Karl August Theodor Reinbold

Karl August Theodor Reinbold was born on September 16th, 1840, in Hannover (Germany). He attended school at Stade (Elbe), where his father did military service as a member of the medical corps. T. Reinbold also became a soldier, in 1858 Second Lieutenant in the sovereign’s own regiment, and finished his military career as Lieutenant Major.

After his retirement in 1885, Theodor Reinbold began a civil career, working as an amateur botanist and a highly successful one at that. In Kiel, he met Johannes Reinke (1849–1931) who had just at that time been appointed professor of botany at the Christian Albrechts University and who was a member of the “Commission für die Wissenschaftliche Untersuchung der Deutschen Meere”, an official committee for German high sea research. In this context, J. Reinke, who had already done major pioneer work on seaweeds, was managing several research projects, most importantly the “Atlas Deutscher Meeresalgen”. As part of this project, Reinke hired a small coast steamer and made many cruises in the Baltic. T. Reinbold became his research assistant and constant companion on these voyages. Besides other results, these expeditions yielded impressive publications: “Algenflora der westlichen Ostsee” (1889) and “Atlas Deutscher Meeresalgen” (since 1889).

Later on, T. Reinbold became independent from his teacher and started his own outstanding career as a specialist in marine algae. His bibliography, not yet complete, comprises some 40 papers, several of which are rather voluminous (see AlgaeBase – Literature). His papers deal with marine algae from all phylogenetic groups and from all over the world. He was in contact with many phycologists in a number of countries where marine research was going on. The National Herbarium of the Netherlands, Leiden University branch, holds his extensive correspondence with Anna Antoinette Weber-van Bosse (1852–1942). T. Reinbold worked until 1894 in Kiel (KIEL), later when his residence was in Itzehoe, he worked in Hamburg (HBG).

All these efforts resulted in one of the most voluminous seaweed herbaria in Central Europe. At the age of 75, Reinbold decided to sell his collection. In a letter to A. A. Weber-van Bosse he gives a detailed description. He hoped to sell it to Leiden. However, an agreement was not reached, probably because Weber-van Bosse’s and Reinbold’s herbaria were too similar. Thus, T. O. Weigel, antiquarian in Leipzig, acted as a commissioner. In 1915 the major part of the collection with an estimated 80,000 specimens of marine algae (for content see Index of the Collectors) was sold to the SNSB – Botanische Staatssammlung München (M). The purchase was funded by the “Mannheimer Fond” of the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften with 5026 Reichsmark.

Karl August Theodor Reinbold died on March 29, 1918, in Itzehoe (Germany). Material collected and/or determined by T. Reinbold is available in M but also in many other herbaria such as in B, C, FH, HBG, L, NY, W, WRSL.

For an overview of his collection, see Bionomia

(text by Dieter Mollenhauer, FIS Gelnhausen, modified)