metal specimen tags

Bob Drewes casherp at SFSUVAX1.SFSU.EDU
Tue Nov 2 15:00:44 CST 1993

To Herpetology Curators and Collections Mgrs.

        During the period roughly from the turn of the century until the
1950's our predecessors at the Academy used tin-based metal museum tags
exclusively for alcoholic specimens.  The Stanford University collection,
accessioned by us in 1970 had about 10,000 specimens tagged in metal as well.

        Over the years we have noticed signigicant damage caused by these
tags.  In many cases the tags are actually larger and/or heavier than the
specimen to which they are affixed, and we are observing actual physical
damage to the specimens; i.e., limbs torn off, etc.  It is our impression
that this damage is not just sustained when the specimens are handled but
possibly even during simple alcoholing or routine maintainance of the

        A problem of equal gravity is that many of the metal tags are
becoming illegible due to corrosion; individual specimens are difficult or
impossible to correlate with their original catalog numbers.

        We would like to know how many other major collections are facing
similar problems, and if there are, what has been done about it.

        I would be most grateful for an e-mail or letter response.


        Bob Drewes
        Chairman, Herpetology
        California Academy of Sciences
        Golden Gate Park
        San Francisco, CA 94118

More information about the Taxacom mailing list