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MERZBACHER , family of numismatists. abraham merzbacher (1812–1885), rabbi, banker, numismatist, and bibliophile, was born in Baiersdorf (near Erlangen), Bavaria. His education at the yeshivah in Fuerth and the universities of Erlangen and Munich was followed by a short career as rabbi of Ansbach. Although running a business in antique books and prints in Baiersdorf, Merzbacher lived in Munich from 1833. In 1846 he became an associate of the banking firm J.N. Oberndoerffer, owned by his father-in-law at Munich, which was also the leading German coin dealer, and later the house of Rollin et Feuardent in Paris – Rollin was a foremost European expert in numismatics. He exposed the "Becker Counterfeits," a famous case of counterfeiting of ancient coins. He became an expert on Polish medals, and also took a special interest in Jewish coins and medals, building up a valuable collection. In 1873 he retired from business and turned to collecting rare Jewish manuscripts and prints to assist R.N.N. *Rabbinovicz in his monumental Dikdukei Soferim (Variae Lectiones in Mischnam et in Talmud Babylonicum, 1876ff.), also financing its publication. His library grew to over 4,000 volumes, including 156 manuscripts and 43 incunabula, and eventually became part of the city library of Frankfurt (see *Libraries). Merzbacher was also active in the Jewish community, becoming a member of the central committee of the Alliance Israélite Universelle. He held several leading positions in the Munich Jewish community and used to practice – gratis – as a mohel. Merzbacher's son eugen (1845–1903) also became a numismatist. Born in Munich, he took the *shekel as subject for his thesis (De Siclis… 1873). Merzbacher had a vast knowledge of classical and modern coins, but his main interest was in Jewish numismatics. He started a successful business in coins and numismatic books in Munich in 1881.


Mitteilungen der Bayerischen Numismatischen Gesellschaft (1885), fasc. 4., on Abraham; ibid. (1903), on Eugen; J. Perles, Trauerrede… A. Merzbacher (1885); R.N.N. Rabbinovicz, Ohel Avraham (1888), catalog of A. Merzbacher's library; L.A. Mayer, Bibliography of Jewish Numismatics (1966), nos. 457–60.

[Arie Kindler]

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