10 tips how to build a mineral collection
Creating good mineral collection requires certain experience and it usually takes years. Here are ten tips to properly start your collecting. Some tips may seem odd but they will help you to avoid most common mistakes every beginner does.
1. Quality literature is a must
Most countries have some literature about mineral localities. Even rockhounding guides are available for many areas. You can also subscribe to some mineralogy magazines like Mineralogical record or Lapis. The university library or bigger museum library is a good place to look for more scientific papers. Many scientific papers can be easily found and often downloaded for free via Google Scholar.
2. It is hard without geology hammer
The era of geology hammers with wooden handle is definitely over. Get yourself some good hammer like Estwing or Forgecraft. Such hammer may cost about $30 but it's worth every penny. It's easy to handle, reliable and safe. You will never touch again cheap hammers after you try real geology hammer. Later also some chisels and smaller sledge hammer (4 lb.) may be worth buying.
Classic geology hammer can be quite universal and effective tool. Exposed vein of the magnesite in serpentine. Photo: Zbyněk Buřival
3. Display quality specimens
Of course all of us have lots of boxes with rocks everywhere. But quality minerals are worth displaying. Buy some display and keep the best specimens there. At least you can show them to other collectors and visitors. It takes some time to fill the display but it's definitely worth it!
4. Catalogue your collection
You can stick a small label with number on your specimens and keep the data in the database. You can keep the label with all info together with your specimen. But please keep proper documantation of your collection. Start with cataloguing immediately or you will have hard time to recall all info about early specimens.
5. Label your specimens immediately
Put label to your specimen on site or at the show. Sometimes it takes a while to get new specimens properly catalogued. Your memory is not as great as you think. Especially when you have hundreds of minerals.
6. Never use permanent glues!
Many people use instant glues to repair specimen. That is very bad idea because these glues are white when they dry and they can't be removed. Use water soluble disperse glue which is clear when dry. If you need to remake your repair you can easily remove the glue in warm water. The same applies if you glue numbers or labels on your specimens.
7. Do not collect junk
Do not collect everything on site. Choose some good specimens for primary collection and few pieces to swap or donate and just leave the rest there. Otherwise it will flood your house and it will be very hard to sort it. Buy rather one good quality specimen instead of three average. It will pay off very soon!
8. Do not collect more then you can display
This rule is quite harsh but very usefull. It is better to have one display of quality minerals then full basement of junk rocks. If you get better quality of some specimen then let the old one go. This keeps reasonable size of high quality collection. And you have most of your minerals displayed for visitors and not packed somewhere in basement.
9. Second grade specimens shoul'd be separated
You get lot of second grade quality minerals while collecting. These specimens are not so bad to throw them away but they are also not worth to put into display. Keep them properly labeled and outside your primary quality collection. Do not hesitate to sell or swap these specimens. Otherwise they will bury you pretty soon.
What makes collecting fun is building relationships. You need to get fresh information about collecting spots and of course you want to show your rocks to someone. Join some mineral club or get collecting with some rockhounds from your area. It is more fun and it is safer. You can also share pictures of your minerals on the internet and blog about collecting trips.