photocopying, scanning herbarium sheets

Sean Edwards mzfses at MAIL1.MCC.AC.UK
Fri Oct 4 14:37:52 CDT 2002

In response to:
     1) Monique Reed wrote: More than one botanist I know has
     taken to calling such photocopied (the 11" x 17" paper is
     conveniently about the same size as a standard herbarium
     sheets) or scanned-and-printed images "xerotypes" or

     2) Stephen Manchester replied: I was taught never to turn a
     herbarium specimen upside down due to the damage from
     pieces that will fall away from the sheet.  How does one
     prepare photocopies or scans of herbarium sheets without
     causing more damage than would have occurred by actually
     loaning the specimens?

Sean Edwards replies:
Half-an-answer here, plus a question: Yes you are quite right. We
have played with an A3+ card (same size as photocopier platten)
with a hinged transparent cover to stop bits falling off when
photocopying. Pop the sheet in, invert onto platten, photocopy, turn
right way up, remove sheet and return to collections. But life is
never so simple:

Every transparent cover we have tried so far (e.g celluloid) tends to
be electrostatic, with the very real risk of parts of the plant being
pulled from the herbarium sheet when the cover is opened. We do
currently have two overworked technicians playing with the idea
(copy of this email to one of them, sorry Ron), trying different
materials, or drawing a metal bar over the cover before opening.
Even a photocopier's glass platten will (apart from facing the wrong
way) tend to electrostaticity(?), especially if cleaned first with a
cloth as often happens. This presumably might still cause damage
even with upside-down photocopiers which I believe exist at a no
doubt prohibitive cost to most herbariums.

Maybe digital photography (increasing quality, decreasing cost of
equipment and file storage) will overtake the need to photocopy,
and be in colour to boot.

Has anybody else gone down this road?


Sean R. Edwards BSc PhD,
Keeper of Botany,
The Manchester Museum, Manchester University, Manchester M13 9PL, UK
'Phone: +44 (0)161-275-2671/2; fax: +44 (0)161-275-2676
Email: sean.edwards at

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