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MINERAL MATTERSMINERAL MATTERS
BUILD A COLLECTION

Introduction
How to Clean Minerals
Get Organized
Display and Storage

Mineral Matters
Regional Minerals

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Get Organized

To get the most out of your collection -- scientifically and aesthetically -- you'll need to organize your specimens in a meaningful way. Organizing your collection begins with labeling and cataloguing your specimens. Labeling gives each specimen a unique identification within your collection. Cataloguing allows you to keep a record of everything you know about each specimen.

Labeling Your Specimen

To label a specimen, you'll need white acrylic paint and a very fine-tipped permanent marker.

[Small geode, 1 x 0.5 inches, cut side showing, lined with quartz]
Small geode, 1 x 0.5 inches, cut side showing, lined with quartz.
Small geode, 1x0.5 inches, cut side down, identification numbre 002 showing]
Small geode, 1 x 0.5 inches, cut side down, identification number 002 shown on bottom of specimen.

Find an inconspicuous spot on your sample, i.e., one that can't be seen if it's displayed. Dab that area with a small dot of white paint. When the paint is dry, use the marker to write in a unique identification number. For example, if you are just beginning, you might label your first sample 001. The next would be labeled 002, and so on.

Cataloguing

You can use index cards, which are inexpensive, reliable, and easy to use. The cards can be kept in a filing box, filed alphabetically by mineral name or numerically by label number. If you have access to a computer, you can use a database. In either case, this is the basic information you'll want to record:

1. The mineral's name and variety, if you know it.
2. Its label number.
3. The mineral's chemical composition, if you know it.
[4X6 index card with mineral specimen information on it.] 4. The mineral's physical properties: color, streak, transparency, luster, hardness, cleavage or fracture, crystal system. You may not be able to determine all its properties, but noting them is very useful, especially if you don't know the name of your sample.
5. When and where you found it. You may want to include geological information about the location and the names of other rocks and minerals you found with the specimen.
If you purchased the specimen, record its source and value.
6. And last, the date you cataloged your sample.

Once you have labeled and catalogued your specimens, it's time to decide how to display and store your collection.

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