Private collections

Giulio Cuccodoro giulio.cuccodoro at MHN.VILLE-GE.CH
Thu Sep 26 18:40:01 CDT 2002

> Sean Barry wrote:
>My concerns are that too many small but
>significant private assemblages have in fact been discarded in the trash
>when their stewards pass on, but so too have too many small institutional
>collections been neglected "to death" when _their_ stewards lose interest,
>space, or employment (been there, done that, at one of those "small"
>(<10,000 specimens) but scientifically significant collections at a
>"large" institution).  Whether the private collection is the best place
>for type material is debatable, but I don't rule that out either.  In my
>opinion, generalities on this topic are inappropriate.

I share your opinion.

To make

Having redactorial duties, I've been on several occasions on the fire line
with this problem of type depositories. I could convince some authors to
deposit the holotypes in a institutional research collection (not always
ours), I had to reject papers (published in another journal without
modifications) of others who didn't want to give up on this issue, however
it also happened that I gave up and accepted taxonomic papers describing
new taxa on specimens deposited in private collections, just because I know
these are adequately curated and that their collaborative owners have
already made arrangment insuring that their collections will end up in an
institutional research collection, thus meeting the spirit of ICZN, Rec.

And by the way, as outlined by Bernard, Deposition in a 'institutional
research collection' is raised in ICZN, Rec. 16C, and the responsibilities
of these institutions are detailed in ICZN, Rec. 72F.
The Museum of Natural History of Geneva has its roots some 150 years ago.
We do not pretend to figure in the top 10, but among other things we house
something like 1'200'000 specimen and 50'000 species of Coleoptera, about
the same amount of Lepidoptera and Hymenoptera. We've got several thousends
of primary types in these groups, including the priceless Forel collection
of ants. We've got adequate conservation condition and our institution has
(so far and for the middle term) proven its perrenity and commitment to
curration and collaboration.
The only thing is that we do not have and will not be able in the future to
publish a list of name-bearing types in our possession or custory (ICZN,
Rec. 72F.4).
Thus if ICZN, Rec. 16C and 72F were Articles, despite its more than average

There are definitely a lot of greys between black and white.

Giulio Cuccodoro                Voice   +41(0)22 418 63 90
Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle
C.P. 6434                       Phone   +41(0)22 418 63 00
CH-1211 Genève 6, Switzerland Fax     +41(0)22 418 63 01

Colis/parcel :
Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle, Rte de Malagnou 1, CH-1208 Genève

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