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What to do with a collection in the event of the owner’s death

Unfortunately, it happens only too often that beautiful and/or large collections of fossils, minerals or rocks, that were once so carefully collected, end up in the trash in the event of the collector’s death. This is why it is important that a collector stipulates during his lifetime what should be done with the collection in case of his death. Perhaps you want to donate  the collection to a family member or to another collector who can proceed with it? When it concerns a large or valuable collection, it is wise to  draw up a last will.

Collectors: discuss with your friends and relatives what should be done with your collection  and draw up a document to record your wishes.

What to do with an inherited collection?
In many cases it is not known what the collector’s wishes for his collection were. Heirs do not know what should be done with it. Should it be sold? Or should it be given to a museum?

In a museum usually not the entire collection is kept together, unless the whole collection is of great scientific value. This means that it should contain very special pieces in terms of types, or in terms of finding location or history. A museum has little interest in pieces where they already have too much of. Also, for each piece, specific data need to be known, such as the finding location. If such data are missing, the collection has no value for museums. Also, museums often have no, or a very limited, budget for purchases. Acquisitions happen often by means of donations.

Sell or donate
Another possibility is to sell or give away a collection to someone who wants to continue with the collection. In the case of sale it is important that an expert first estimates the value of the pieces. For example, sale is possible through the geological association of which the collector was a member. Another possibility is to sell through a forum for collectors. For comprehensive collections it is also possible to contact an auction house.

What steps to take?
Fossiel.net can advise you (free of charge) what the possibilities are with respect to collections of fossils, minerals and rocks. Our motivation is that we want to see the pieces end up in the right place, and to avoid that important pieces disappear forever. We can refer you to other parties if necessary. All we need you to do is to send us some information about the size of the collection, together with one or more photos. It can be sent to the below-mentioned mail address.

Do you have additional information for this article? Please contact the Fossiel.net Team.