This hitherto unpublished introduction to the fascinating pursuit of collecting the labels from mineral specimens was written by label experts Bideaux and Bently in the early 80s, but surprisingly found little interest. Newly made available by The Mineralogical record site, this document explains all the fundamentals of this fascinating but under-appreciated hobby.
Photograph: A mineral speciman label generator: Dr. William S. Newcomet (1872-1958)
As B&B point out, however, the lack of recognition of mineral sample labels as collectibles in their own right has meant that significant collections have been lost as uncaring and foolish curators re-label their collections, simply dumping the old, but infinitely more lovely, labels.
But why collect these lithic accoutrements? B & B sum it up best:
Mineral labels are a record of those individuals and institutions collecting minerals, as well as a record of changing tastes in label design and styles. They have an intrinsic interest bearing on the historical aspects of mineral collecting. The oldest labels offer a direct record of the growth of mineralogical science, sometimes predating the mineral being named (as, for example, "gelb bleispath" = yellow lead ore = wulfenite) or giving only a chemical composition (green arsenate of copper). Their study is an education in languages, especially regarding the different forms mineral names have taken, and also a memory exercise; both kinds of challenges are useful training for evaluating collections, individual specimens and their probable dates. A label collection can also assist in the authentication of unknown labels, and provide verified examples of the handwriting of a particular collector.
An Introduction to Mineral Label Collecting >>
by Richard A. Bideaux and Ronald E. Bentley