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How to list my minerals?

Posted by Chris  
Chris October 14, 2001 12:25PM
Hello, I'm having a few problems trying to make a list of my minerals.
The problem is that I want to put in it very important infos about every speciment, but precisely I don't know which infos to consider most important than others.
A few days ago I've found a book that advised to use schedules of DIN A4 or DIN A7 format.
Does anybody know how are these schedules made?Has anyone that form on his PC?Or even if you know where can I find them on the web.
Help me, please!!
Jolyon October 17, 2001 01:53AM
DIN A4 is simply the size of paper used for standard letters in europe - DIN A7 is a (much) smaller paper size.
Tom Boschmans December 16, 2001 07:21AM
When you fold an A4 into 2, you have an A5, fold it again, you have A6, fold it once more, and you have A7, ...
When you put 2 A4 next to eachother, you have A3, two A3 gives A2 and so on...
Al P. December 16, 2001 08:21AM
Hi Chris

Let me see if I can answer the part of your message asking about what is important to record for each mineral specimen.

The most important information is the locality information. Whenever possible, include the name of the site, the name of the town the site is in, the name of the state or province, and the name of the country. Some people also include the name of the county within a state - which is a good idea if you know it. Some even include such information is the level of a mine the specimen came from.

Locality information is actually even more important from a scientific perspective than the name of the mineral. This is because someone can figure out what the mineral is, but probably cannot tell where it came from. Of course, it is standard to include the name of the mineral as well - I don't think anybody labels or catalogs their specimens without that. :~}

When recording the name of the mineral, it is the species name that is most important. That should be recorded whenever possible. Then you can also include the varietal name or any nickname the mineral might be known by. But don't just record varietal or nicknames alone - make sure you include the species name. (Mineralogists do not recognize varietal names, nicknames, and marketing names as being "scientifically valid." It is only the species name that they recognize.)

Also, if you are cataloging your collection, record the "catalog number" for the specimen. This number should appear on the specimen itself whenever possible, on the label for the specimen, and in the catalog record. With the number on the specimen, if the label should become lost, you can look up the information for the specimen in your catalog, cross-referencing using the catalog number, and then make a new label for it. The best - most permanent - way to write numbers on specimens is to first paint a small rectangle of white enamel paint on the back or bottom, let it dry, and then write the number on that using drafting ink or India ink. A 1/8 inch (4 mm) artist's brush works well.

Some specimens are difficult or impossible to put a number on. One way to deal with these is to mount them on some sort of display base - wood or plastic rectangles, plastic mineral boxes, etc. - and then write the number on the base. The glue used to mount the specimen should be semi-permanent: A type that will not easily come off, but which you can remove from the mount and the specimen if you want to. (Many collectors use "mineral tack" or a putty for mounting specimens on bases and in boxes. Specimens can become dislodged from these materials, so they should only be used for specimens that have the number written directly on them. Use an actual glue or similar material for mounting specimens which do not have the number on them. That way you will be sure the specimen will stay on the numbered base.)

Whether or not you record technical data - chemical formulae, crystal system, etc. - is up to you. Some collectors do, others do not - feeling that it can be looked up in a book, so why bother? Those who record this type of information usually do so in order to learn the information: After you have written or typed the chemical formula, etc., for a mineral a few dozen times, you probably won't forget it.

If you want to keep track of the value of your collection, then you should record the price you paid for each specimen - or at least an approximate value for specimens you collected in the field or obtained through swapping. If you do this, record the date of the purchase or estimate. Mineral values change over time, so it is important to know when the value recorded was set.

Some collectors also record who they obtained a specimen from - the name of the dealer, name of the person who actually collected it (if that is known), and when it was collected or purchased. For specimens that come from old, well-known, collections this information can be important: Specimens that have passed through the collections of famous or noted people are often more valuable than specimens which have not.

Most collectors also include a place for notes or comments - recording such information as the Mineral Group or Series a species belongs to, what the mineral is used for if it is one that has practical uses, the fact that the locality is a famous one if that is the case - and even notes about the field trip it was collected during. Whatever you want to add once the "important" information has been recorded.

These days, a lot of collectors are using database programs for their mineral collection catalogs - software such as File Maker Pro (which is a particularly good database program for developing a catalog.) It is probably safest, though, to keep the database files on external disks - floppies or zip disks - in order to avoid loss in the event the computer crashes. Or the catalog can be kept on the hard drive, with a back-up copy on external disk(s). In that case, be sure to update the back-up disk(s) after every session of updating the main catalog. That way if you lose the main catalog, you'll have all or most of the information safe on disk(s).

You can also use index cards and keep them organized in card drawers. It's not as fancy as using a computer, but it is an old "tried-and-true" method that has withstood the test of time: There are a lot of collections in the world that have been cataloged this way - many of those catalogs still in use today. (I maintain both a PC database catalog and a file card catalog. Only once I am certain that the PC catalog system has everything recorded in it and is safe will I get rid of my card catalog... :~} )

Anyway, the most important information to record is complete locality information, the name of the mineral, and the catalog number. Those are the three "critical" items of information to record. After that, anything else is a matter of personal choice.

Hope that helps you figure out how to set up your catalog!


Alan Plante
brian kenney January 29, 2002 05:37PM
Al, when I buy mineral specimens at shows etc. they often have suffixes such as, xl, xls etc. are they just a marketing tool? What do you think?
Thanks to both of you for the info, Brian
David Von Bargen January 29, 2002 07:48PM
The xl and xls are just abbreviations for crystal(s). It is always better to have nice crystals on a specimen.
Al Plante February 13, 2002 05:03PM

"Xl" is simply a shorthand for "crystal" - and "xls" is the plural.

"Xls on m." means "crystals on matrix."

Just a time-saver for folks doing up labels.

Al Plante
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