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Heinrich Gatke
Dates: 1814 - 1897
Biographical Account: Heinrich Gätke was born in Pritzwalk, Germany in 1814.  At the age of 23, he visited the island of Heligoland (known as Helgoland in German), off the coast of Germany.  He liked the island so much that four years later, he decided to move there to work as a painter.  In 1843, Gätke began to study the birds living on the island, ultimately amassing a large collection of bird skins.  Like most Victorian naturalists, Gätke must have been quite generous with his collection, exchanging material with other ornithologists.  This is probably how material collected by Gätke ended up in the possession of Sheffield ornithologists Charles Dixon and Henry Seebohm, and from them, into the collections of Sheffield Public Museum.  Most of Gätke's collections were donated to the North Sea Museum on Heligoland Island in around 1891.  Sadly Heligoland became a major Nazi naval base during the Second World War and was regularly raided by the RAF and in 1944, the North Sea Museum was hit and Gätke's collections were completely destroyed.  It isn't known how much material collected by Gätke survives other than in Sheffield and it could be that Museums Sheffield hold the only surviving collections of this significant German ornithologist left anywhere in the world.
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