Insights into the History of the Collection
Emil Joseph Ruef
30.12.1863 – 3.5.1913
Born in Freiburg, Emil Joseph Ruef was a businessman by profession. He was trained as a travelling salesman in Cologne and in the Hanseatic cities. His father Joseph Ruef ran the colonial goods store J. Ruef Sohn, Freiburg i. Br. Wholesale trade in colonial goods and national products, motorised coffee roastery at the Münsterplatz and later in the Schiffstrasse. In 1878 his father bade him and his brother Julius to come Freiburg to work in the company. In 1881, both sons were granted power of attorney for the company until their father finally withdrew from the business in 1887.
Emil Ruef was not only an entrepreneur but also active in city politics. He was a commercial judge at the Chamber for Commercial Matters at the Regional Court and for many years he was the chairman of the city council. From 1898, he was also a member of the Freiburg Chamber of Industry and Commerce, becoming its vice president in 1911 and, from 1911 to 1913, its president. He died in 1913.
Emil Ruef is something of an exception among the majority of donors to the museum. He didn’t donate any objects or a collection as such, his support for the museum being exclusively financial. In 1903, he pledged 100 marks to the museum annually up until 1907, which, over the years, amounted to a total of 500 marks. In 1904, he donated an additional 100 Marks to enable the purchase of a carved ivory tusk from the Kingdom of Benin (present-day Nigeria). The ivory tusk was purchased by the merchant K. Hoppe in Hamburg for 450 Marks. Whereas Ruef was thanked for direct financial support by being included on the roll of honour, the report of his purchase for the museum in the local press didn't mention him by name.