Reply To: Curation of Personal Collections

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Bill Heimbrock

Since my name is being bantered about I thought I would be “social” and chime in on my methods of labeling.

George, I agree with Jack and Lisa. (@george-powell, @egardner, @jkallmeyer) You have a very thorough method of cataloging. I also tip my hat to Jack’s excellent data collection tips.

I must say that there is no single method or software used by the Dry Dredgers as a group. Everyone has their preferences. As long as all parties understand the needs, the solutions can be diverse. Here are a few details about mine.

My specimen catalogue number is 8 alphanumeric characters – a 4-character site ID and a 4 digit specimen number.

A trilobite from my Colerain Ave site is numbered like this.

CA – Location Identifier (Colerain Avenue) Multiple sites on one street is no problem. Get creative. It’s just 2 characters AA BB whatever.
2 – Level/layer 2 for that site. The higher the number the lower in the strata. Right or wrong, be consistent.
R – Richmondian Stage. This can also be a formation or member name.
4 digit specimen number left justified. This number is only unique within the 4-character site code.

Of course somewhere on paper and in a computer file I have a list of these site codes and specimen codes along with extensive, extensive, extensive site data.

Jack in his post mentioned my tiny fossil labeling method. I think I should talk about this. I used to have to label everything. I’m better now, but here’s what I did back in the 90’s.

The idea is to print and affix specimen labels that are so small, I can label tiny trilobites with unique ID’s. I needed to do this in order to sequence all the trilobites by volume to make a growth sequence. When I was done I could see that volume is not the same thing as apparent size, but that’s what learning and science is about, right?

See  for what my trilobites looked like. See also for a close-up where you can read the label on the trilobite.

I did it with a 600 DPI (dots-per-inch) laser printer. I made the page size as big as I could and the font size as small as I could. I was able to fit 10,000 labels on one sheet by printing multiple pages on one side of a sheet. I used Avery full-sheet adhesive label stock so I could cut it the way I wanted and printed the numbers in blocks of 250.

Here’s what the sheet looks like –

First I cut out a block of 250 labels with a scissors and peeled the adhesive backing. Then I prep the specimen and cut out one TINY label with the scissors. This is where the self-stick adhesive comes in handy. It doesn’t hurt the fossil because it’s too weak but it keeps the tiny flake from flying away while you affix it to the fossil.

Here’s what one block of 250 labels looks like compared to my hand which I used to cut the individual labels. –

As soon as your label is where you want it on the specimen, brush clear nail polish over it and along the edges so it sticks. The nail polish is easy to remove so it won’t hurt your specimen. It also protects the printer ink from rubbing off with time. But it’s possible for the printer ink to smudge while applying the nail polish. It depends on the ink you are using. The dry ink from a laser printer I used did smudge the print if I fussed with it too much.

I did 400 trilobites this way. They were all from one horizon in the Ft. Ancient member of the Waynesville Formation. In addition to a growth sequence exhibit for our Geofair, the trilobites were used by Greg Schumacher and Marcus Key for the JP paper “Paleoecology of commensal epizoans fouling Flexicalymene (Trilobita) from the Upper Ordovician, Cincinnati Arch region, USA” in which I was named co-author. Hard work does pay off!

Thanks for reading. – – Bill Heimbrock, Dry Dredgers