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Subject: Insects in amber

Insects in amber

From: Sally Shelton <libsdnhm>
Date: Wednesday, October 25, 1995
Annie Armour <aarmour [at] seraph1__sewanee__edu> writes

>I have a collection of insects in amber and I need to know how to
>store it properly.

There are several articles on the conservation of amber that have
appeared in _Curator_ and _Collection Forum_. You might want to
start there. There are several more or less related resins that are
generally described as "amber" as well as a host of fakes and
frauds. (Fake amber goes back a long way, even before the Bakelite
forgeries, and has mushroomed again in response the _Jurassic Park_
mania. Caveat emptor.) In general, amber benefits from very stable,
dark, inert storage conditions. Creating microclimates is highly
recommended (to control both oxygen exposure and RH variations) for
very sensitive pieces. Blocking all UV exposure is very important,
too, and any acidic storage materials will affect amber. I have used
a variation on the anoxic enclosures described by John Burke for
WAAC (and archived on CoOL) for protecting oxygen-sensitive
geological specimens with good results to date.

There are several kinds of amber/insects fakes: they can be loosely
grouped as fake resin with modern insects and real amber with modern
insects implanted. The latter can be done seamlessly and have planes
of weakness that are almost undetectable (from the implantation,
heating, fusing, etc.). While the storage suggestions above are
pretty basic and will work for anything, it's important to be sure
that you know what you have. Real amber is, ironically, often more
stable in good storage than many of its fakes.

Sally Shelton
Director, Collections Care and Conservation
San Diego Natural History Museum
P.O. Box 1390
San Diego, California  92112
619-232-3821
Fax: 619-232-0248

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                  Conservation DistList Instance 9:37
                Distributed: Thursday, October 26, 1995
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Received on Wednesday, 25 October, 1995

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