Caring for Your Rock Collection

Most of us have probably picked a rock or fossil up from somewhere and never written down where it was from. Well here is a quick ‘what to do’ guide to caring for your collection, no matter its size.

1. Put the specimen in a sealed bag or specimen box. These can be picked up cheaply at craft shops or online.

2. Always label the box/bag with what it is and where it came from. It is also useful to put a date of when you found it. If you can give the location a grid reference this is very useful too.

3. Inside the box/bag put a small card with the following information on it – specimen_labels
   a. Specimen name e.g. Calymene blumenbachii (trilobite)
   b. Location e.g. Wrens Nest, Dudley
   c. Stratigraphy e.g. Much Wenlock Limestone Formation, Nodular Member
   d. Age e.g. Silurian
   e. Date collected
   f. Specimen number (more detail on this below)

To download a pdf page of specimen labels for printing click here.

4. Record in a notebook or if you fancy being a bit more technical use a spreadsheet, the information about the specimen. Again this must include where and when it was found and more importantly what it is. It is also useful to write a brief description so if you were to hand your collection on to someone else or drop your box, you will be able to re-identify your collection and match it to its original box.

5. Always give your specimen a number. This will help link your collection to your list on your computer or in your notebook. Mark this specimen number on the specimen using a small line of tip-ex and a black waterproof fine liner pen.

6. Always store your collection in a clean, dry environment because humidity can cause your specimens to decay. In particular if you have anything with pyrite it is recommended that you place it in a sealed box with a small pack of silica gel.

7. If you have a fossil which is in two halves, wrap the two halves up individually in tissue paper and place them in the same box/bag. This will stop any fragile bits getting broken off.

8. If you have something which you aren’t sure about, such as what type of brachiopod you have found then there is plenty of help at hand. Dudley Museum & Art Gallery hold regular ID sessions throughout the year. Or take a look at the many guides to rocks fossils and minerals which can be found in the shops at reasonable prices.

9. Finally enjoy your collection!

This page has been adapted from an item in Newsletter 202 by Chris Broughton & Alison Roberts.