Voucher specimens

Pavulaan at aol.com Pavulaan at aol.com
Sat Sep 13 12:11:29 EDT 1997

In a message dated 97-09-12 , Ken Philip writes:

<< In my estimation, the increased  interest in and understanding of insects
that can arise through collecting  is desirable--even if the specimens are
not being obtained for scientific  purposes. (I still would encourage anyone
engaged in collecting to seriously  consider donating the specimens to a
museum, since the collection can be  useful for science even though it was
accumulated for other reasons.)   >>

Good point, Ken, but it might help to point out too, that most butterfly
collections of a serious size and scope (except for many of those childhood
shoebox collections) eventually DO either get donated to a museum, or sold to
other collectors (in which case they eventually may yet get donated).  Thus,
fewer collections disappear with the passing of the owner (or loss of owner
interest), than some would like to think.  After all, where else do museums
get all their vast specimen holdings from?

The fact that some people collect purely for the pleasure of it, provides a
potential pool of research specimens which future generations will benefit
from.  Especially when it will be illegal for schoolchildren to hold a net,
or place a caterpillar into a jar, someday.  

I might go one step farther, and thank all those commercial
collectors/dealers upon who I depend for many of the research specimens which
either are not available in museums in this area, or are from places where I
otherwise would never be able to go to (or be economically feasible, for a
mere handful of specimens).  Without such specimens, many taxonomic research
projects would never be possible, or would take years longer to complete.
 And note: all my commercially-obtained specimens will ultimately be added to
some museum collection.

One final comment: I found it amusing, several years ago, when press reports
mentioned that some collectors had series of certain butterflies larger than
those in some museums.  How shocking!!  But, for anyone who knows anything
about collections, there is nothing unusual about that.  I probably have a
larger series of Azures than most museums!  Anybody doing research on a new
taxon may have the largest series of that taxon, in existence, or the ONLY
series!  Statements of a relative nature such as this can be very decieving
and misinforming.

Harry Pavulaan

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