Valuing scientific specimens

Bill Shear wshear at EMAIL.HSC.EDU
Fri Jul 27 09:50:27 CDT 2001

On 7/25/01 6:07 PM, "Barry M. OConnor" <bmoc at UMICH.EDU> wrote:

> At 2:25 PM -0400 7/25/01, Ron Gatrelle wrote:
> ... I donate specimens to the FSCA/DPI
>> in Gainesville, Florida as they have a detailed standardized list of prices
>> for all kinds of specimens - curated, non-curated, various types of types,
>> etc.  At the end of each year they automatically send me a letter fully
>> itemized with prices listed and totaled. They have done this for many many
>> years. So don't tell us it can't be done. They only problem is that the
>> prices are 20 years behind the time. We at the Museum of the Hemispheres /
>> International Lepidoptera Survey use this same system for those who donate
>> to us (we were formed in 1998)....
> I am very surprised to hear this.  Can anyone at FSCA verify that the old
> "value list" is still being used?  As Sally Shelton pointed out, the museum
> cannot put a value on specimens donated to them - it's against the law.  We
> were informed by an IRS agent some years back that the old FSCA value list
> was meaningless to them - it's all "fair market value" even if the FMV is
> zero. - Barry
> Barry M. OConnor
> Curator & Professor             phone: (734) 763-4354
> Museum of Zoology               FAX: (734) 763-4080
> University of Michigan          e-mail: bmoc at
> Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1079  USA
 Barry is correct and this has been the case for many years.  I donated a
large collection to a public museum and wanted to claim a tax write-off (the
collection had been gathered at considerable expense over the years).  It
was necessary to get the services of a disinterested third party (although
since the party was paid a pittance by the museum he might not have been
really disinterested) to value the collection on behalf of both of us.  I
claimed the deduction and it was not questioned by the IRS, though it was
quite substantial.  I wonder if anyone has any more recent experience, since
I am contemplating another such donation.

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (434)223-6374
email<wshear at>
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