PROFESSOR HENRY OTLEY BEYER
1883-1966

Written By Aubrey Whymark 2007-2017
Henry Otley Beyer was born in Iowa, America in 1883. His passion for Anthropology first brought him to the Philippines in 1905. Beyer married an Ifugoa Filipina in 1910.

Henry Otley Beyer first encountered tektites in late 1926 in Novaliches (Quezon City, Metro Manila) in the course of conducting an archaeological survey of the area. He was the to first described Philippine tektites, which he named Rizalites, in 1928. He carried on his work, alongside his archaeological and anthropological studies, culminating in a large two volume monograph entitled 'Philippine Tektites' in 1962, which included most of his past papers. Beyers work was disrupted in second world war with many tektites and his papers being destroyed.

The First Philippinite

Henry Otley Beyer was the first person to describe Philippine tektites, which he named Rizalites, in 1928. The first Philippine tektite was found in 1926 and Beyer went through many drafts before publishing his paper.
 
ABOVE: A magazine from 1965 celebrating the H. Otley Beyer Symposium, which was held at the University of the Philippines to mark his achievements.
ABOVE: Dr. H. Otley Beyer stands beside some of his collection of stone implements and tektites from various Philippine archaeological sites. (from Sevilla, 1962).
ABOVE: Professor Beyer stands beside his showcases filled with tektite, artifact and library collection (from Lirazan, 1962)
Amonst others, Beyer appeared to have good relations with George Baker (Australian tektites) and the distinguished Gustav Heinrich Ralph von Koenigswald (Javan tektites and Java-man).

Beyer Tektite Collection

Beyer had a huge tektite collection, mainly from the Philippines. Some specimens were destroyed in WWII. According to Beyer's grandson Henry II, the collection was decimated when the Marcos government confiscated many of the specimens by presidential proclamation during martial law. Much of the remainder was sold in Henry II's antique store in Baguio City. Other parts were auctioned off in 2005. Some turned up in other antique stores in Manila. The nicest specimens were all sold by the time I met Henry Beyer in 2008. Some made it to American collections including the Futrell collection. Some of the low grade (but scientifically interesting specimens have made it into the Whymark Collection.
 
ABOVE: Two papers by George Baker, signed by Henry Otley Beyer.
Beyer's tektite collection was reportedly the largest in the world, reaching to more than half a million pieces. It also contained the largest tektite in the world (at that time) and now the third largest Philippinite at 1069g - it's is now located in the Corning Museum of Glass. Beyer attached a high level of importance to tektites, believing that they came from outer space.
ABOVE: The largest known Philippinite at the time. Two slightly larger specimens have now been found in localities very close to where this one was recovered in Bicol, Philippines (from Lirazan, 1962)
Beyer lived to an age of 83, passing away in 1966. His literary collection was acquired by the National Library of Australia in Canberra in 1971. His tektite collection appears to have been sold off in parts to collectors. A small collection of tektites from Beyer also resides in the National Museum of the Philippines.
ABOVE: Professor Henry Otley Beyer examines some skulls. I'm not sure where this is, but it might be Paco Leper Cemetery in Manila.
ABOVE: Professor Henry Otley Beyer at the site from which the first Philippine tektite was recorded. This is the Santa Mesa site (from Beyer, 1962).

References

Guide to the Papers of Henry Otley Beyer, MS 4877, National Library of Australia.

Beyer H. O. 1961-1962. Philippine Tektites: Volume 1 (Parts I and II). University of the Philippines Publications in Natural History and in the new field of Space Science. Quezon City.

Lirazan R. S. 1965. The Remarkable Beyer Collection. Philippines International Magazine. 9 (3): 20-25 (Tektite collection on page 25).

Sevilla A. T. 1962. Presenting: H. Otley Beyer. Philippines International Magazine. 6 (10): 13-15. (Philippine tektites on page 15).

Sevilla A. T. 1965. H. Otley Beyer: Dean of Philippine Anthropology. Philippines International Magazine. 9 (3): 2-4, 39.