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Some people buy minerals and immediately throw out the labels - there are a few reasons you might not want to do that.

updated 2018

Mineral Articles

Storage - Documentation

page 3 - thinking about the future of your collection

If you have no interest in maximizing the financial return on your minerals or no interested in maintaining the scientific value of your mineral collection - then i guess you can throw out the labels.

A few rock and mineral dealers today try to maintain the whole history of the minerals they sale. Ideally, you should want to know who originally found the item, the location where the mineral was found, the name of the collectors that have own the piece. And, of course the mineral name. To retain any scientific value the minimal information a mineral label should have is the name of the mineral and the location it was found.

Mineral with locality information are more valuable than minerals that lack the information. But, how do you insure the locality information will be paired to the specimen when it comes time to resale, particularly if it is your children, or grandchildren, who end up disposing of your collection?

You could add catalog numbers to each specimen with indian ink but if you die, or become incapacitated, will anyone know to look for your catalog and be able to match your specimens to their descriptions? 

Thoughts about maintaining the documentation on your mineral collection

Inventorying your collection (at least the best pieces) in a spreadsheet, as you acquirer them, is a good idea. I take photos of my minerals and pair them with the locality information. I do not rely on having just a hard drive, cloud, or CD (does anyone still use them) record of my inventory.  I print out labels for each of my minerals (including a photo) and attach it to a 3x6 envelope. Any receipts, original labels, etc I include within the envelope.

ideally, your “hard copy” catalog of your collection should be on acid free paper (as should any envelopes you use) and you should use no glues. Dry mount tissue can be used in place of glue. Acid free printing paper is readily available but the archival quality envelopes, I have looked at, seemed rather costly.  I ended up using regular envelopes for the catalog and I am now wondering if that was smart. If, some time in the future, acid from the envelope’s paper starts damaging the mineral information on the outside of the envelope, I can always print a complete inventory from the computer’s copy. I have no way to replace the original labels and receipts kept with in the envelopes. In the future, I am thinking, I will stop using the envelopes and use photo albums for filing the “photo ID” labels. Old labels and receipts can be filed in the album’s pocket with the mineral’s “photo ID”label.

Some collectors choose to glue (or mineral tack) small labels directly to the bottom of their specimens. That way the labels are never separated from the mineral. This works well for specimens with obvious bottoms.

How you document your collection is a purely personal preference, I hope the above will give you some ideas to think about.

Know your Rocks - what is a mineral, what is a crystal?

How do you want to store your rocks and minerals? There are several options, box storage, display storage, pile storage, outside storage, the list goes on...