Abafi-Aigner, Lajos (Ludwig Aigner)
Ludwig Aigner was born on the 11 February 1840 at Nagyjécsa, Torontál Shire, Transylvania, Hungary, now Romania. His family moved to Temesvár, a large town in Transylvania, where he received a formal education in commerce and begun his career as a book merchant. His family was of ethnic German stock and young Ludwig only learned Hungarian when, in 1858, they moved to Pozsony (now Bratislava and in the Slovak Republic), a large town with predominantly Hungarian inhabitants. From here he soon moved on to Pest (now Budapest) and in 1863, as it was the custom in those years, he wandered all over Austria and Germany.
He completed his studies in Köln and Stuttgart before returning to Pest. He always had an interest in entomology and he became a keen amateur lepidopterologist. However, besides entomology, he had a great variety of other interests too, especially in the field of publishing, writing, historical research as well as aspirations in business. He found success in publishing and in establishing a popular bookshop. In 1870 he was initiated as a Freemason and eventually he rose to the highest positions in the Order.
For 12 years he has worked on an extensive monograph of the history of Freemasonry. He used his Hungarian pen name “Abafi” in a hyphenated form with his original family name: Abafi-Aigner and changed his German Christian name “Ludwig” to the Hungarian equivalent “Lajos.” However, despite his successes in publication and writing his business begun to decline in the 1880s and within a few years he faced financial difficulties, which ultimately led to the closure of his famous bookshop. Disillusioned, he discontinued most of his business activities, and from 1890 he devoted all his time and energy to lepidopterology. In 1895, he published the results of his studies in the Természetrajzi Füzetek (Notebooks of Natural History), the journal of the National Museum’s Natural History Department and he was one of the authors of Fauna Regni Hungariae (Catalogue of Hungary’s Fauna).
He resurrected Rovartani Lapok (Entomological Papers), which was established in 1884 but ceased to exist in 1886. His treatment of the butterfly fauna of Hungary won the coveted Bugát Prize. Based on this work he published Butterflies of Hungary in 1907. The book was (and probably still is) one of the most popular entomological publications in Hungary. It has inspired countless young entomologists and made the name of Abafi-Aigner well known to every naturalist in the country. He passed away on the 19 June 1909.