Otto Merseburger was born as the son of the accountant Johann Joachim Merseburger (1784-1865) and Rosine Caroline Merseburger (1789-1837). He attended the Allgemeine Kunst-Akademie Dresden and from 1845 the Königliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich after which he established in Leipzig as draughtsman and lithographer of portraits. He joined his elder brother Carl Merseburger at his publishing company in 1853 which he took over when Carl passed away in 1885.
From 1870 onwards Otto became an avid collector of numismatics, mainly of Albertine and Ernestine origin. His collection comprised over 11.000 pieces and was sold to the Leipzig coin dealers Zschiesche & Köder in 1894 who published a sale catalogue dedicated to the collection. This sale catalogue remains an important standard work on Albertine and Erestine numismatics until today.
The Stadsgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig preserves a sketchbook album with portrait drawings in pencil and a self-portrait of Otto with his oval German Silver spectacles which became popular from ca. 1835.
In this splendidly drawn recently discovered self-portrait Merseburger has depicted himself in a somehow bold and cunning way without the slightest attempt to present his personal characteristics more beautiful than reality by showing his broken front tooth on purpose with open mouth, pointing out to the spectator who might feel intimidated by his gesticulations.
 Sammlung Otto Merseburger umfassend Münzen und Medaillen von Sachsen. Albertinische und Ernestinische Linie. Zschiesche & Köder, Leipzig 1894
 Selbstporträt von Otto Merseburger als junger Maler im Halbprofil mit Bruststück den Blick rechts vom Betrachter abgewandt.
Sketchbook of portraits, ca. 1848. Stadsgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig, inv. no. M 54/2/Gb