Rediscovery of the Elements: Althofen, Austria and Auer von Welsbach Page: 2 of 3
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Figure 4. Auer von Welsbach-Museum at Buigstna)ie 6, AUtiofon, Alstra, constructtl 1110e
a 12th century dwelling. Inside are six large rooms devoted to exhibits and memorabilia of
the life of Carl Auer von Welsbach. Inset: Plaque on side of building.
Figure 5. A montage of selected exhibits at the Welsbach Museum
include (starting upper-right, clockwise): osmium filament light
bulb; an original Bunsen burner from Heidelberg (where he was a
student); the Welsbach mantle with its "Gluhstriimpf"or "glowing
stocking"; casseopeium (lutetium) oxide; and a gold "Sunday
lighter" showing the detached striker. The vast collection of exhibits
exemplifies the phylogeny of Welsbach's inventions by hundreds of
lighters, strikers, lamps, and bulbs. Welsbach was an expert glass-
blower and made the first use of borosilicate glass.
separated products of lanthanides and
actinides. Welsbach had isolated measurable
amounts of "ionium" (thorium-230) which
were used by Ernest Rutherford in his own
studies of radioactive elements. The plate cam-
era used by Welsbach in his pioneer color pho-
tography studies is included in the collection, as
is the spectroscope and spectra used in the
identification of the rare earths. Welsbach
learned his spectroscopic techniques while a
student with Robert Wilhelm Bunsen at
The entrance room of the Museum includes
photographs and other memorabilia outlining
the life of Welsbach and his family, including a
self portrait, in color, identifying Welsbach as
the first color photographer in Austria. The vol-
umes from the personal scientific library of both
Robert Bunsen and Auer von Welsbach are on
the second floor.
During his later life, Welsbach lived at
Schlog Welsbach (Welsbach Castle), 5 kilome-
ters west of Treibach. Although this is not open
to the public, the proprietor of Prechtlhof kind-
ly drove us to the site, negotiating the serpen-
tine dirt roads through the forest. The castle
(Figure 6) testifies to the magnificence of
Figure 6. Schlofl Welsbach, the home of Carl Auer
von Welsbach, hidden in dense forest 5 kilometers
west of Treibach.
Welsbach and his work, where he nurtured an
exotic garden and pursued hobbies of ornithol-
ogy, photography, and his beloved chemistry."
Figure 3 (LEFT). View westward from Althofen, looking towards
the Welsbach Castle (which cannot be seen) and over Treibacher
Industrie in the Gurk River valley. In the distance are the snow-
covered Alps. Welsbach established this company in 1907
("Treibacher Chemische Werke GesmbH") for the production of
ferrocerium lighter flints under the tradename "Original
Auermetall."Today the company produces various alloys and
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Marshall, James L., 1940- & Marshall, Virginia R. Rediscovery of the Elements: Althofen, Austria and Auer von Welsbach, article, Spring 2002; Indianapolis, Indiana. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc111184/m1/2/: accessed July 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Arts and Sciences.