Valuation, and security, of specimens

Peter Rauch anamaria at GRINNELL.BERKELEY.EDU
Thu Oct 21 12:46:24 CDT 1999

The question of how to valuate specimens, and an issue regarding
stolen specimens, were recently raised on taxacom and nhcoll-l.

A perhaps interesting sidelight to these issues showed up as an
5in x 6in advertisement in the San Francisco Chronicle, Oct 20,
1999, pg A14.

A picture of a "mounted skeleton reproduction of Utahraptor", and
headline "Natural History Auction", announces a preview and
auction of various collection (collectible) artifacts.

The ad is for an upcoming Butterfield & Butterfield auction (now
owned by Ebay, the online auction company). It gives dates, phone
numbers, contact and site addresses, catalog ordering info, etc.

To quote:

"Highlights include a 75 million-year-old dinosaur skull as well
as a unique collection of gems, minerals, amber, fossils,
dinosauria, a collection of exotic meteorites and a collection of
taxidermy from the Fillmore Museum of Natural History"

How does the fair market value of such material influence the
valuation of scientific collections materials? Do the two realms
cross paths at the tax and/or insurance office?

How has the increasing "collectibles" interest by the general
(non-for-science) public, and seemingly more conspicuous (in
particular, legal) marketing (e.g., this auction ad, and local
"bone stores"  in many cities), of natural history specimens of
all kinds affected risk management policy and practices of
scientific museum collections?


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