Dr. Albrecht Ulrich - Portrait of a coin collector

17. February 2022

Albrecht Ludwig Ullrich was born on 3 December, 1930, the eldest son of Gustav and  Johanna Ullrich in Bamberg. The family lived in the small village of Sand am Main in rather modest circumstances, supporting themselves primarily from the weaving of wicker baskets traditionally practiced there, in which the children too had to help out. Nevertheless, Albrecht attended secondary school in Bamberg as one of the few in his age group. At the end of the war he was drafted as an anti-aircraft gunner’s helper, but was fortunately spared having his young life ended like so many others as part of the last contingent of the hopeless so-called “Volkssturm” against the advancing American tanks.

The boy, who came from the simplest of backgrounds, succeeded through his own efforts with extraordinary intelligence, great diligence and iron discipline in achieving his secondary school Abitur degree and then studying chemistry at the university level in Bamberg, Würzburg and Innsbruck, whereby he received excellent grades -- certainly an extraordinary achievement at the time.

This was followed in 1959 by a doctorate in chemistry at the Karl Franzens University in Graz with the grade “excellent”, which earned him a scholarship to continue chemical-medical research work at the internationally renowned Institut Pasteur in Paris. Although he initially spoke not a word of French, he drove his Vespa motor scooter to the French capital, where he quickly settled in and eventually almost married a French woman. Throughout his life, Albrecht Ullrich felt connected to France and the French language, which was later expressed in his numismatic activities and focus.

Back in Germany he found work in Munich at the Isar-Chemie chemical company, and found also the young, attractive foreign language correspondent Gertraud Herrmann, whom he married in 1965. The young couple first moved to Brussels, where Dr Ullrich worked for the Kleber chemical company. When he received an offer from the German Patent Office, Gertraud and Albrecht Ullrich moved back to Munich, where their son Christoph was born in 1967 and then their son Mathias in 1968. In 1971, the young family moved into their newly-built house in the Munich suburb of Vaterstetten.

His remarkable professional career finally led Dr Ullrich to the newly-created European Patent Office in Munich in 1979, where he worked as a patent examiner until his retirement in 1993.

The spartan harshness with which Albrecht Ullrich had grown up continued to shape his family life as an adult, and sometimes led to conflicts. Although there was a soft heart behind the rough exterior, it was not always easy for the head of the family to give his family members proper recognition and to show them his pride in their achievements. Nevertheless, his wife always stood by him and kept the family together.

After a prolonged illness, Dr Ullrich passed away at home among his family on 4 April 2013.

During his childhood, youth and college studies, Albrecht Ullrich had to make do with the bare necessities and thus developed strong, sometimes extreme habits of thriftiness and discipline. He was to maintain these traits even later when he could easily have afforded more. Throughout his life the only luxuries he allowed himself were the numerous trips based on cultural and historical themes, which formed the foundation for his later passion, numismatics. His broad interest in history -- with a focus on antiquity -- coupled with an adventurous spirit led him on the trail of ancient cultures beginning in the early 1960s. With a Vespa scooter and then a VW Beetle he traveled from Casablanca to Constantinople, then later with his family and a tent across Europe and Asia Minor, and still later from the pyramids of Yucatán to the cataracts of the Nile and the ruins of Babylon.

Because of his pronounced urge to collect and hoard, coupled with his short stature, his sons jokingly referred to him as “Alberich” after the suspicious dwarf guardian of the Nibelungen treasure hoard in Germanic legend. Dr Albrecht Ullrich fortunately managed to overcome his otherwise extraordinary thriftiness when it came to his important coin collection, and to leave behind a treasure hoard that is anything but mythical. His excellent coin collection has as its focal points the Gothic coins of the northern and southern Netherlands (especially of the local mint lords from the House of Wittelsbach) as well as the gold coins of the last century of the Roman Empire.

The undersigned is grateful to have had a respectful, friendly relationship with the scholar and numismatist Dr Albrecht Ullrich. May this catalogue keep alive the memory of this extraordinary Francophile with his great enthusiasm for numismatics -- and with all of his rough edges as well.

Osnabrück, December 2021

Dr Andreas Kaiser