Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mineral Specimens--Save Your Old Labels

Old Labels On Minerals...

Often you will see an old label on specimens for sale. When you do see these little tidbits you get a glance at the life and history of the specimen. I love old labels, but when I am reselling a specimen some people complain that the old label says it was only $0.50, and I have $100 on it. Just because a specimen has an old tag with one price doesn't mean that is what the dealer paid for it. I usually pay a lot more than what the old label says, and then put my label and price with it. These old tags are meant to tell the new owner a part of the history of that specimen. It is sort of like having an old journal or diary for that piece of geologic history. Many dealers get these old specimens and throw the tags away so that customers don't think they paid pennies on the dollar for what they are asking for the specimen. Although this is understandable, considering the confusion it can cause, when that happens a little piece of history is lost.

Many minerals appreciate with time just like any other investment. I have specimens I paid a few dollars for and are now worth thousands.
Old labels themselves add to the value of a specimen in many ways. If a particular specimen was owned by a famous collector or museum, it can double the value. For example, a specimen of Vauxite from the Vaux collection (from the late 1800's) can be worth several times the amount a specimen of vauxite without that information would command. Sometimes a particular dealer's label (not mine) can add to the value of a specimen. For example, a specimen with a label from the Foote Company of Phil'dia will be worth several times the same specimen without that info.

Specimens with a history like this are said to have a pedigree.

Old labels without that kind of info or history can simply add to the pleasure of owning the specimen. This is the most common kind of label (sometimes it is only a scrap of paper with a hand written note) yet I love them the same.

Some collectors pay top dollar so they can have the special label or only collect specimens that they can get labels signed by the person the specimen is named for. What a specialty collection!

So when you are collecting always try to get at least a label from the dealer you are buying it from. Don't just throw them away--someday they may be worth something. Heck, even one of mine might someday be valuable.

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