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Sales to Museums (was Re: New Velociraptorine)



At 05:29 PM 12/10/96 -0500, Caitlin R. Kiernan wrote:

>Paul R. Janke wrote:
>
>> It is my understanding that a permanent museum home is being sought
>> for this specimen. It has *not* been earmarked for any auction, and
>> talk of such things is generally not fruitful since it might
>> adversely affect ongoing negotiations.
>
>But the specimen is obviously being *sold*, correct? And to the highest
>bidder? Does it really matter if we're talking about a public, Sue-type
>auction, when the specimen and the data it will provide are still being sold,
>further encouraging individuals to seek profit from palaeontological
>materials?

Not to start the whole debate again, but...

If a person wishes to sell a particular item only to a certain class of
buyers (i.e., museums), that does not mean they will automatically sell the
item to anyone.  The Sternberg family, to my knowledge, did not make their
specimens available to any bidder, only to museums.

However, your last point is very significant: by putting a particular dollar
value on a specimen, it may encourage other people to assign dollar values
to other specimens yet to be collected...

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Vertebrate Paleontologist     Webpage: http://www.geol.umd.edu
Dept. of Geology              Email:th81@umail.umd.edu
University of Maryland        Phone:301-405-4084
College Park, MD  20742       Fax:  301-314-9661

"To trace that life in its manifold changes through past ages to the present
is a ... difficult task, but one from which modern science does not shrink.
In this wide field, every earnest effort will meet with some degree of
success; every year will add new and important facts; and every generation
will bring to light some law, in accordance with which ancient life has been
changed into life as we see it around us to-day."
        --O.C. Marsh, Vice Presidential Address, AAAS, August 30, 1877