Value of a herbarium specimen

Sue Thompson thompsons at CLPGH.ORG
Fri Jan 31 11:07:48 CST 1997

Harvey Ballard's recent posting on the costs of processing a specimen at the CM
herbarium were not quite accurate.  Based on a cost analysis over a several
month period, we concluded that costs average $3 to $6 per specimen, NOT $13
per specimen that Harvey mentioned.  This figure includes supply costs (paper,
glue, packets, labels, genus covers, cases, etc.) and labor for producing
labels, inserting labels with specimens, mounting specimens, sorting and filing
specimens, and databasing (e.g., all activities associated with getting a
specimen that is in hand in newspaper without a label into the cases and
useable by the scientific community).  Our figures DO NOT include costs
associated with acquiring specimens or any judgement on the value of a
particular specimen.  The CM cost analysis was done so that we had an accurate
figure to use in grant and contract budgets for these services.  We presently
use $5/specimen or a negotiable figure for larger sets of plants or for
organizations with which we have long-standing relationships.

Sue Thompson
Assistant Curator
Section of Botany
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
4400 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA  15213

e-mail: thompsons at

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