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Private Collectors....a defence

    I would like to add my two cents to something I see often on this list.  
Private collectors seem to be getting a real bum rap by the academicians 
   I would like to point out that Barnum Brown and Sternberg were private 
collectors, they found, excavated and sold vertebrate materials.  Though most 
of these specimens ended up in large institutions that now serve as permanent 
repository, they were collected by private individuals paid only through the 
sale of collected material.  There are several outfits today that also serve 
as a primary means of excavation and preparation of materials, that are then 
sold to both the scientific community and to private collectors.  The 
scientific community often receives a fair portion of these specimens...hey 
how bout _Bambinoraptor_? (prime example). 
   Also most of us with leases in the vertebrate rich formations of Wyoming 
and Montana often have to pay a land owner for access to lands.  These 
ranchers protect sites and also aid excavations with use of personal large 
machinery.  Are they wrong for charging us to make "improvements" to their 
land?  I can think of several local fossil collectors that will only sell 
their rare and important (relative depending on ones perspective of important 
im sure) specimens to professional institutions.  Most large specimens, and 
often small ones also, ultimately end up in a professional institution at 
some point.  It seems that over time (a generation or two in some cases) a 
good deal of donations are made to institutions from collectors, or 
collectors relatives once an estate is liquidated.  I have known two 
professional institutions who have received wonderful material because of a 
donated bone collectors collection.  I have also know institutions to turn 
down valuable specimens because they don't have the room, or the particular 
interest in the material being donated (now that seems a crime...kinda 
hypocritical of us)?  
   I would warn that the bitter resentment of the academician 
(generalization) towards private collectors has burned too many bridges that 
would have lead to donations, or relatively cheap material.  Remember, for 
every hour in the field collecting, and private collector spends upwards of 
ten hours in the lab preparing and preserving the collected materials.  When 
an Oligocene skeleton is collected and prepared by a private and then sold to 
an institution at a specific cost.  The institution is paying for collection, 
liabilities, preparation, materials, and "hunting" time.  These costs would 
have otherwise been incurred by said institution.  
   Several private collectors take exquisitely detailed locale information, 
and publish in peer reviewed journals the information necessary for 
population demographics.  Is it so bad that they are recuperating costs 
through the sales of fossils?  All of us know all to well, there are few jobs 
within the field of paleontology.  Grants are small and scarce, departments 
are limited in funding, positions available going extinct, replaced by 
something deemed more important by the administrations of large institutions. 
 Ever faced a budget cut?  Im sure you have.  Let us ease up a little eh?  
Sorry to rant, but I feel strongly about this issue.  I have seen 
professional men degrade private collectors a few too many times (the same 
men, and women, that have recently purchased a specimen useful to their 
research that would have otherwise been lost to errosion).
   The academicians are not the only ones to blame, that much is for certain. 
 Commercial collectors have done damage to the paleontological community, 
lets not hold the grudge. Blame falls equally upon the shoulders of us all, 
academic and commercial alike.  Can we put aside these prejudices and work 
together?  Outside of the closet?  Thanks for listening (or rather reading) 
my argument....commentary is greatly appreciated, on or off list.
Thanks again,

Dave Lovelace
Casper College
Tate Museum

(this is my opinion, not necessarily that of my institution)