Primary types in private collections

Bernard Landry bernard.landry at MHN.VILLE-GE.CH
Thu Sep 26 16:57:12 CDT 2002

Hi folks,

Types should be deposited in public collections. Period. The Codes
should make that mandatory. This simple rule would help the poor
image that taxonomy has in certain circles, I think.
Now (ICZN, Art. 16.4.2), descriptions are required to provide a
"statement of intent that the type will be (or is) deposited in a
collection and a statement indicating the name and location of that
collection."  Deposition in a public collection is Recommendation
16C. This recommendation should be made part of  Article 16.4.2 for
the validation of new names.

This thread makes me think of a situation I came accross. A
technician in our Museum has a friend who collects bugs in amber.
This person has an amber piece with a nice nymphalid butterfly. Our
technician brought it to me, I examined it, returned it, and only
later did I realize that there are only very few specimens of
butterlies in amber known. Knowing this I wanted to borrow the
specimen again to make a picture, but not only is that impossible,
the collector does not want me to know who he is! A bit frustrating...

I don't think that I would be a taxonomist now if I had not been
allowed to make my own collection. I still have part of it. But I
don't think a new organization will solve problems with regards to
access of private collections. One good way to find private
collections is looking into the membership lists of societies and
associations dedicated to the advocational study of the taxa one is
interested in. But some people who have collections don't like to
belong to these groups and I am willing to bet that they will not be
interested to join an organization of private collectors either.


At 9:58 -0400 26.9.2002, Barry M. OConnor wrote:
>At 9:16 AM -0400 9/26/02, Bill Shear wrote:
>>Trying to return the discussion once more to the original thread-- Does
>>anyone out there think that primary types belong in private collections?
>No.  The last types for a major revision I am conducting are held in a
>private collection in Europe.  I have been informed by his countrymen that
>the owner/describer of the taxa does not communicate with anyone, so I
>shouldn't feel slighted.  There were also at least two major private mite
>collections holding types that were largely destroyed by their owners who
>developed mental problems late in life.
>         So in my opinion, keep your personal collections for your personal
>reasons, but put your types in an institution where they are available for
>study.  Yes, this may mean a long voyage to see them, but at least they're
>not at the bottom of the sea where the types noted above were ultimately
>deposited. - Barry
>Barry M. OConnor
>Curator & Professor             phone: (734) 763-4354
>Museum of Zoology               FAX: (734) 763-4080
>University of Michigan          e-mail: bmoc at
>1109 Geddes Ave.
>Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1079  USA

Muséum d'histoire naturelle, C.P. 6434, CH-1211 Genève 6, Suisse

Tél. : 41 (0)22 418 63 42
Fax : 41 (0)22 418 63 01
Courriel : bernard.landry at

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