Value/Cost of Collections

Peter Rauch anamaria at GRINNELL.BERKELEY.EDU
Wed Mar 25 22:33:04 CST 1998

Two postings on entomo-l ask about/discuss the value and cost of insect
collections. (I hope this crossposting will not alienate anyone;  if you
want to follow any further discussion posted to entomo-l, you can
subscribe to entomo-l).

I guess I would wonder what the value of those old, published data are
worth in assessing the value of a collection _today_, at a time when the
cost of replacement (of any class of terrestrial organisms) is likely to
be astronomical to impossible to afford given the recent development in
restrictions on collecting, the loss of habitat to such an extent that
much of the site-specific material is now irreplaceable, etc?=20

>>> Posting number 18571, dated 25 Mar 1998 16:41:04
Date:         Wed, 25 Mar 1998 16:41:04 +0100
Reply-To:     Entomology Discussion List <ENTOMO-L at LISTSERV.UOGUELPH.CA>
From:         Loic Matile <lmatile at CIMRS1.MNHN.FR>
Subject:      cost of insect collections

Dear listers,

The Paris Museum is beginning a series of workshops on its collections and
the problems involved in their curation, growth, etc. I have imprudently
accepted to give a short communication on the cost to an Institution of an
insect collection, and its commercial value. Of course I have some data for
France, but practically none on other countries. Your help would be deeply
appreciated on two points.

1. I am certain I read 10 or 15 years ago a paper by someone from the
Smithsonian Institution giving the cost of an insect properly pinned,
labelled, identified and included in the collection. This cost included
buildings, salaries, overseas collecting trips and so on, and amounted to
about (if I remember well) 10 US dollars. Now I find I am unable to lay my
hand on the xerox or original reference. Can somebody help me there?

2. I would glady accept any data on the selling price of scientific
collections of insects or other invertebrates, provided it is accompanied b=
additional data such as number of primary and/or secondary types, number of
species and drawers or vials. For example, The Smithsonian Institution
acquired at an auction in France the Poisson Collection of aquatic true bug=
for 30 000 US dollars. Counting the number of types, specimens and drawers
(large size), the mean present cost would be (grossly, the sale was in 1979=
465 dollars for a drawer,
70 dollars for a type (in this case mainly paratypes),
5 dollars for a specimen.
Any data of this kind would be very welcome. You may answer me directly, bu=
the matter may be of interest to others on the list.

Looking forward to your answers,

Department of Diptera, MNHN

>>> Posting number 18573, dated 25 Mar 1998 14:13:58
Date:         Wed, 25 Mar 1998 14:13:58 -0500
Reply-To:     Entomology Discussion List <ENTOMO-L at LISTSERV.UOGUELPH.CA>
From:         Vladimir Gusarov <gusarov at AMNH.ORG>
Subject:      Re: cost of insect collections
In-Reply-To:  <2.2f.16.19980325154315.45473dfa at>

Dear Dr. Matile,

Some time ago there was a kind of conference in the UK on the value of
Natural History collections. Afterwards the contributions were published as
a book. I saw the book as a new arrival in a library in St.Petersburg a
year ago. One paper was written by somebody from the British Museum and
dealt exactly with the costs involved in collecting, handling and
preserving the specimens. I do not have the reference at hand but I think
the title probably started with the words "Natural History collections...".

Hope this helps.
Bien cordialement,
Vladimir Gusarov
Dr. Vladimir Gusarov
Entomology Department
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192             \ //
phone (212) 769-5296           oooooOOO-OC
fax (212) 769-5277                  / \\
e-mail: gusarov at

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