Value of Scientific Specimens

christian thompson cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV
Wed Jul 25 11:35:31 CDT 2001

The point is that this is another indication of low regard our science,
Systematics, has.

The IRS takes a purely commerical view==> Fair Market value.
So if there is no market for scientific specimens, then IRS consider the
specimens worthless.
And as Fish & Wildlife is so set on destroying a commerical market in
butterflies and beetles the value of our scientific specimens will remain
worthless as most museums no longer have funding to purchase collections and
thereby set "fair market" values.

AND obviously we, the readers of TAXCOM, need to be aware of this
situation. We should try to encourage our museums to purchase collections
and make KNOWN to all that they are doing so and at what rates.

For example, has any one purchased a HOLOTYPE recently? And if so, how much
did you pay for it?

A few days ago I responded to Barry's comments about cladistics versus
alpha taxonomy. And how all NSF, etc., funding was going into discovery of
phylogenetic relationships, not species.  And couple of people responded to
my negative remarks by saying how valueable ecologists, etc., find names,
etc., to be to their research. But again the response to them is how often
do ecologists, etc., PAY for identifications and names? The answer is not
very often as most view identifications and name checking as a "free"
service that taxonomy should provide.

So, what is the commerical (fair market) value of those tools (voucher
specimens) that we use to provide identifications, etc.?? Nothing!

There is only one good thing in all of this is: Secretary Small, whose view
of the collections at the Natural History Museum is that they are
"ill-conceived and ill-managed," can't sell them as they are of no
"commerical" value!

Smile :-)

F. Christian Thompson
Systematic Entomology Lab., ARS, USDA
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D. C. 20560-0169
(202) 382-1800 voice
(202) 786-9422 FAX
cthompso at
visit our Diptera site at

>>> Una Smith <una at LANL.GOV> 07/25 11:13 AM >>>
On Wed, Jul 25, 2001 at 10:58:23AM -0700, Barry M. OConnor wrote:

>But remember, it's the tax man we're dealing with here! - Barry

Then perhaps you should direct this question to the IRS, not TAXACOM.

        Una Smith

Los Alamos National Laboratory, Mailstop K-710, Los Alamos, NM  87545

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