Behind the camera: István Skoflek

In István Skoflek’s pictures, not only the figure of an enthusiastic local patriot is drawn but also his love of nature and collecting. Skoflek was not a professional photographer – just like Elemér Révhelyi – this is why his collection is so special. What architecture meant to Révhelyi was that nature meant to Skoflek. The common thing is Tata with a difference of a couple of decades. In our actual selection, you can skim through his pictures; his legacy is preserved by the Kuny Domokos Museum of Tata, whom we would like to thank for enriching our database.

Beloved city Tata

04427.jpgIstván Skoflek was born in 1934 in Felsőgalla that is a part of Tatabánya presently. He finished elementary and grammar school here and later received his teaching degree at the Biology-Chemistry department of university ELTE. He worked as a teacher at the Eötvös József Grammar School of Tata from 1957 to 1980. He always remained loyal to his beloved city, though he was invited to teach in Debrecen and Budapest too. He recorded almost all places of interest in the city on his slides, from Esterházy Castle to the Castle of Tata, but his real passion was nature. His commitment was revealed as early as at grammar school, when his botanical collection contained a thousand species.

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Passion for collecting and love of nature

09545.jpgHe was the first to introduce the usefulness and importance of the discipline archaeobotany to archaeologists in Komárom County.Besides his work, he was also engaged in processing his archaeological botanic finds (seeds and crops mainly) as of 1969. He established the Herman Ottó Circle of Tata, owing to which a whole troop of students took to natural history. His former students remembered him like this:

“Back then in the seventies, we were photo amateurs with my fellows; our desire to eternalize nature carried us and we explored it. Our small company got to know of the Herman Circle, visited István Skoflek and joined his group. This time, he worked on the top floor of the Tata Castle; there, he spent almost all his free time working of course. The notion “working hours” did not exist for him – and this applied to us, enthusiastic amateurs, as well. Sometimes, we still had a talk there at midnight. The storey was full of collected finds and we felt like being in a stone-quarry or a digging site.

In 1974, he became a part-time employee of the Kuny Domokos Museum. This is how regular natural scientific collecting and processing could start in Komárom County. The museum wanted to develop palaeontology and archaeobotany principally. He was not unknown for the museum; he had worked together with László Vértes’s archaeologist team at the excavation in Vértesszőlős, where they found the fossil of the prehistoric man called Samu. He worked indefatigably until 1981, when his fate ordained that he died from a wasp sting on a collecting tour.

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Translated by Zita Aknai

Sources:

Fülöp Éva – Kisné Cseh Julianna (szerk.): A tatai múzeum története 1912-2002 - A természettudományi gyűjtemény kialakulása, gyarapodása.

Dr. Skoflek István, a fáradhatatlan természetbúvár

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