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Re: describing private specimens

Doesn't it make sense to describe an important fossil while one has the 
chance to do so? Wouldn't it be a large loss to science if that private 
owner decides remove the specimen from public viewing before any one 
could write a paper on it.  Granted, donation would be ideal, but don't 
let the chance go. Describe then talk them into donation.

On Wed, 1 Mar 1995, NEIL CLARK wrote:

> I have a problem with the collector retaining ownership of the 
> fossil, despite the fossil being held in a museum.  It is certainly 
> against the policy of the museum I work in that specimens published 
> on are owned by private collectors.  As far as I know, no journal 
> should accept a scientific paper describing material in private 
> collections as there is no control, no proper registration, and no 
> knowing what the intentions of the collector are WRT the specimen in 
> the future.  No matter how scientifically inportant a specimen is, we 
> cannot expect a museum to take on the responsibility of looking after 
> such a specimen without full control.  I suppose the way round this 
> is to give the owner special priviledges, invite them to exhibition 
> openings etc, IF they donate the specimen to the museum.
> There have been too many problems with private collection specimens, 
> that have been published on, going missing or the owner having a 
> misunderstanding with the museum staff and removing the specimens he 
> legally owns.  There are just too many problems with long term and 
> permanent loans from private collections of material that is, or 
> will, be published on that these types of loans are abolished at this 
> museum at least.
> I hope this doesn't rile anyone, but it is important to understand 
> why scientifically important specimens should be owned by a public 
> institution and not the private individual.  I would like to know what 
> the policy is in other museums on this matter, but please reply off 
> the list as I think this discussion is of limited application to 
> the dinosaur group here (perhaps of more relevance to the fossil_nut 
> group?).
> Neil
> Neil Clark
> Curator of Palaeontology
> Hunterian Museum
> University of Glasgow
> email: NCLARK@museum.gla.ac.uk
> Mountains are found in erogenous zones.
> (Geological Howlers - ed. WDI Rolfe)