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Ex so and so’s collection
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John S. White
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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 07:31    Post subject: Ex so and so’s collection  

Am I the only one who is appalled by the practice of including the names of former owners of specimens in captions with photographs of mineral specimens? Unfortunately, examples abound in the new publication by The Mineralogical Record “Mineral Collections in California.” Astute readers will recognize that in numerous cases the specimen labelled “Ex so and so collection” was never in that person’s collection at all but was part of his or her inventory. I fail to see the reason for this apart from being eager to boast over having a specimen that was not good enough for its former owner. I fail to see the justification for publishers agreeing to include this information in the captions. I greatly respect collectors who have the good sense to eschew this practice, allowing their specimens to stand on their own rather than hoping to earn greater respect because they formerly were in the collection of some more or less prominent other collector.


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Debbie Woolf




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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 07:49    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

I do not see the necessity for this information in a publication but I do like the history of ownership that comes with a specimen.
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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 07:56    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

The one situation where I do appreciate seeing an "ex-so-and-so's collection" is when So-and-so was the field collector, or a locality specialist for the area, so the annotation lends some extra circumstantial evidence for the accuracy of the locality. Likewise if the species is difficult to identify and the So-and-so was a mineralogist. Otherwise, as you say, John, it's meaningless fluff. Especially if said So-and-so is still alive, when it might mean "not good enough to keep".
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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 08:05    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

alfredo wrote:
...Especially if said So-and-so is still alive, when it might mean "not good enough to keep".

Or "I changed on mind and I want to collect other kind of minerals" or "my family don't like the collection, so I prefer pull out the best specimens before I pass away" or "I like it so much but as is good I can sell it immediately and so get some money that I need now" or "is not transmitting positive feelings to me anymore" or.... (the minds of the collectors tend to be complex ;-)
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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 08:25    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

In general, I like or at least don't mind, having the provenance of a piece as part of its label. It seems to be the norm in some other type collectibles as well as minerals. But, for me, the provenance should ideally be an add on type label as the true original label for each piece should not have any previous owners, other than the original collector. BOB
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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 08:33    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

Jordi Fabre wrote:
alfredo wrote:
...Especially if said So-and-so is still alive, when it might mean "not good enough to keep".

Or "I changed on mind and I want to collect other kind of minerals" or "my family don't like the collection, so I prefer pull out the best specimens before I pass away" or "I like it so much but as is good I can sell it immediately and so get some money that I need now" or "is not transmitting positive feelings to me anymore" or.... (the minds of the collectors tend to be complex ;-)

I do think Jordi is right. There can be a lot of reasons to get rid of a specimen other than "it's not good enough for me".
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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 08:45    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

Yes, indeed, that's why I wrote it "might" mean... I've changed my collecting focus too over the years, from Bolivia minerals to (currently) Japan minerals. Collecting would be boring if we had to keep the same focus our whole lives.
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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 08:52    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

Having this information is always good, disclosing it publicly is questionable.
As a collector, and for all the reasons mentioned by others, this information can be a double-edged sword when made public.
I am more than happy to know that I am buying a specimen that used to be in Joe’s, Jack’s, or Cathy’s collection (Especially if I know and have interacted with the ex-owners), but that information doesn’t add much value in my view.
And if I think it does impact the selling price, I just walk away.
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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 09:03    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

I for one like to keep all the old labels I get with my minerals. But I only use the EX when I know it comes out of a old collection, and not dealer stock. The Little Three Topaz could be one of those that was collected by Bill Larson on a field trip with Josie Scripps and then in her collection since they were both field collectors in San Diego. Bill drove Josie around collecting minerals just like I did. She had her rules about minerals found on those trips.
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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 09:28    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

With very few exceptions, I don’t sell minerals. My collection has become a Supermassive Black Hole of Beginner Rocks.
That said, the best specimens often have a history of their own and that creates a certain legend. Recalling the facts remains a positive comment.
To talk about the King of minerals, the diamond, what a great story that links the French Blue from Tavernier to the Hope !.
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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 09:35    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

I think that for serious publication purposes "ex-so and so" should pass the same minimum hurdle that being on currency or postage stamps does (at least in the US)...you gotta be dead. I think it's historically germane to note if a piece belonged to Roebling, Romero or Pinch but (although I want to keep the labels with the piece) until someone IS history it isn't. Personally I'm a bit embarrassed and mystified when someone puts ex-Megaw on a caption or posting, and would prefer they not...but if they own the rock it's up to them, remembering that as long as I am still around to be asked why I "got rid" of the piece they are taking the risk I will give a less than value-enhancing answer.

Note that I said "minimum" hurdle because I agree with John that simply passing through a dealer's hands does not merit adding another name to the "ex-X" list. I also share his disdain for labeling "iconic" specimens with extended pedigrees listing everyone who ever previously owned the piece, even if just long enough to add their, name to the list and pass it on. In these cases I would argue that taste would decree that at least there should be fewer names in the "ex-X" department than there are lines of information on the species and locality...

I realize there are now vanity stamps where you can pay to put your picture...or your dog's...or your favorite mineral specimen on them. To some degree that is analogous with the publication John is citing...the individuals paid for, and in most cases wrote, the content for their personal contributions, so what they include is up to them and a matter of taste. That is different from a professionally produced and/or peer-reviewed publication. But again, much of the content in our most esteemed mineral "hobby" publications is volunteered and I'll happily tolerate a few extra "exs" in the captions as the price for the content we receive monthly or bimonthly.

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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 10:02    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

Apart from the reasons Alfredo gave, I have the impression that the 'ex-a, ex-b, ex-c, ex-whoever) is merely part of the hyperbole used to add extra value to a specimen.
This 'ex so and so' seems to be so important in some circles that they're willing to pay an extra buck for a specimen. As an investor one simply has to think of something to make the investment increase its value. Pump it around, add even more names and create a nice mineral collecting bubble :-)
Apart from the 'ex so and so' some collectors seem to be very vulnerable to often ludicrous verbiage used to describe how fantastic, unique, special, best of, interesting, etc etc an often mediocre specimen is.
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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 10:12    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

Vanity and insecurity seem to go hand in hand--aren't we all susceptible to some degree?
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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 10:13    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

Simply put, I abhor the practice in any publication. Keep the information in the provenance records (and all labels) but it is not necessary to publish unless there are historical (deceased collector) reasons to do so. Thanks for bringing up this point, John. See you in Denver!

tlp

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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 10:44    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

Well, Tony and all

I have no position on this. I like to read provenance in a photo, and I love even more to have the collection of labels in my now specimen.
But one time, when I let a very nice (by the way, bought from Jordi...) El Horcajo pyro, I was asked to let it so be photographed for a publication. I had no trouble, and I bring it. When asked to place my name as owner, I said that I pass, and publisher asked me "why so? have you not paid the piece? It is not yours?..." when I answered that by sure I have paid it and is mine, he answered, that well, then place your name
Which I think that is just normal.

And, as a quote, I remain collecting what I begin to collect from when I was very young, around 8 y.o. One time destroyed.... (I learned very young that to have an hygroscopic material living in front of sea is not a good idea) and one sold (I became very depressed when I saw the collection of Mr. Folch many, many years ago, when still in Via Laietana (then... now Pau Claris) in Barcelona. But later I continued... (and I collect several things...)

Say me odd.... :-)

With best wishes

Lluís
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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 11:16    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

I agree that indicating who a specimen once belonged to in a publication might not be necessary. However, to know who owned a specimen before I obtain it is interesting to me. When an old label is provided with a specimen, I always try to research the person(s) who previously owned it. To me, knowing more about prior owners gives the specimen a history -- and to some extent, an additional "personality". It is particularly a pleasant surprise when I find a specimen I want to purchase which belonged to someone I have known or who was a good friend, but who has passed away.
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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 11:52    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

II fully agree with Jordi and almost entirely with John. Alfredos point adding indeed it is very interesting if it comes form a field collector, much more so than a serie of 5 dealers where the specimen wished through in a few months or a couple of years... those are NO REAL collectors, they are simply DEALERS.

As Jordi wrote, Indeed the reasons for a real collector to sell may very well be a little more complex then "it was no longer good enough"

Now I have not yet seen the issue. Various personalities have various needs. The insecurity mentioned comes sometimes with rather recent collectors but is typically linked to personality. Anyone, not only could, but should ask the advice from a few independent collectors and if they know a TRUSTABLE (do not necessarily equal "reputable" dealer with a big ad).

However there is a huge difference with very insecure people, for whatever reason, who need reinforcement from their clan of collectors or dealers.

In a publication I would put only such information for some specimens.

I have a very old exceptional Topaz from the Urals. its history is lined with personal friends until the 1940, some deceased, two still alive. It was one of the favorite specimens in all of these collectors specimens and is treasured by myself. That one I would certainly add such information to, although two great collectors and one dealer are still alive.

Another specimen, an aquamarine found in 1910 by Professor Herman Banks father, I would also ad such information, as with a few others.

I have no problem if someone puts a row of previous collectors, however there is absolutely no enhancement whatsoever in the specimens attractiveness, value just because 5 dealers "had it" for a brief moment in time.

Another example, an Elbaite found by john McLean at the Himalaya Mine in July 1988, went straight to Bill Larssons vault, and remained there until January 1989 when he took it to his store to prepare it for a Tucson exhibit featuring this one extraordinary crystal and many from a recent find of Elbaite from the Royal Pocket, which lower extension found in April 1989 was named the Million dollar pocket (the upper half had the best crystals by the way).

Bill is still active, alive, likely for some more decades. I would certainly add his name for the reason that the specimen by itself is extraordinary. Anyone who really appreciate great specimens, and have studied thousands of tourmalines from this mine would immediately recognize its uniqueness. It is not for sale. Value s at it is, no matter who owned it, or owns it now.

It is about a million times better and rarer than a big quartz specimen exhibited in Tucson with an over exaggerated name and price. It would fit outside a museum of natural history to attract people, and let kids and adults touch it. Such is the hausse, trying to make so so mediocre specimens lok attractive and get someone to put out huge money for nothing, like the tulip scam in Holland i the 1600s.

Just my take on things.
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lluis




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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 12:08    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

Hi, Peter

Well, not minerals.... (even if they grow in Earth...)
What you say "tulip scam" in The Netherlands, was just a stock option market collapse. As we had many times in our time lapse and as was many times before and would be even more times after...

Just maybe too picky... Stock options markets is or all a scam or it is not a scam....
Depend on who sees it....
To me, a serious way to destroy money.... But if people like it.....

With best wishes

Lluís
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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 12:53    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

Hi Lluis,
Yes, too much is a scam, I agree and as I recall, although I read it 30+years ago, a tulip bud value in this "stock market" was huge money, 1000 gulden or something ridiculous.
Cheers
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PostPosted: Aug 10, 2017 13:28    Post subject: Re: Ex so and so’s collection  

Personally, if I am going to include the provenance of a specimen with the photo caption, I think it should add some sort of historic context to the specimen, i.e.: the specimen has come from the collection of an individual or institution that is recognized for it's past contribution to the science of mineralogy and/or the history of mineral collecting. For my own personal records, I like to keep as complete a list of past owners as I can as it adds "traceability" to a specimen in case there are questions about the veracity of the attributed identification or location.

I sometimes think, however, that adding a genealogy of recent (non-historic) owners can seem more like name-dropping than providing important background information on the specimen in question. But then, we all engage in this business/hobby for our own reasons. I have come across many collectors who seem insecure enough in knowing their own tastes that they need some sort of independent validation that the specimens they have likely spent a lot of money on are really worth having. Citing the names of famous or well-known past owners of the specimen might be one way to do this.
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