Johannes Kinker, 1823 - 1900

by Brian Stevenson
last updated August, 2018

Henri Van Heurck wrote, “Holland had only one diatomist of renown: Mr. J. Kinker”. Kinker was a bookkeeper and stock broker who, ca. 1877, began serious investigations on the diatomaceae. His extensive collection of diatom material, including slides that he prepared, is held in the Museum of the University of Groningen, Netherlands. Even so, microscope slides that were prepared by Kinker are occasionally encountered in private collections, presumably originating from exchanges between Kinker and other diatom enthusiasts.

Johannes Kinker was born on January 31, 1823, in Amsterdam. He was the son of Hendrik and Maria Kinker, and a grandson of noted Dutch philosopher and poet Johannes Kinker (1764-1845). Our diatomist married Johanna van Mansum on November 11, 1847. They had one son, Jan, born February 18, 1850. Johannes left his scientific collections to his son.

During his spare time, Kinker undertook studies of insects. He developed a substantial reputation as an entomologist. A species of moth that he described was named after him, Dactylotula kinkerella (originally Dactylota kinkerella).

Around 1877, Kinker turned his attention to diatom studies. Some thirty species have been named after him. Kinker learned details on diatom-mounting from J.D. Möller, and afterwards prepared over 180 high-quality arranged type slides (“typenplatten”). Van Heurck noted that Kinker communicated with essentially all of the eminent diatomists of his day, with whom he undoubtedly exchanged raw and prepared materials. However, he did not publish any papers on results of his studies. Toward the end of his life, Kinker produced numerous photomicrographs of diatoms.

Johannes Kinker died on May 16, 1900, in Baarn, Netherlands.

Figure 1. A microscope slide that was prepared by Johannes Kinker in February, 1881. It contains a single, perfect specimen of a Surirella fastuosa diatom.


Figure 2. Johannes Kinker, 1877. Adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from



Darwin Correspondence Project (accessed August, 2018) Photograph album of Dutch admirers, to C. Darwin in his 69th birthday, 12 February 1877,

de Wolf, H, and F.A.S. Sterrenburg (1993) The legacy of the Dutch diatomist J. Kinker (1823-1900), Quekett Journal of Microscopy, Vol. 37, pages 30-34

de Wolf, H (1993) History of diatom research in the Netherlands and Flanders, Proceedings of the Twelfth International Diatom Symposium, Hydrologia, Vol. 269/270, pages 1-9

Stainton, H.T. (1885) On the very interesting, but long overlooked, Dactylota kinkerella, The Entomologist's Monthly Magazine, Vol. 21, pages 70-65

Van Heurck, Henri (1900) J.-J. Kinker, Le Micrographe Préparateur, Vol. 8, pages 225-226

Wie Was Wie (accessed August, 2018)