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Magnetic Label Holders for Metal Storage Equipment, System No. 2


Magnetic labels provide a flexible and versatile identification system for use with all-metal storage equipment and does not damage the surface paint.


F. G. Hochberg
Dept. of Invertebrate Zoology
Santa Barbara Museum
of Natural History
2559 Puesta del Sol Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93105 USA
Tel (805) 682-4711, ext. 318
Fax (805) 569-3170

Henry W. Chaney
Dept. of Invertebrate Zoology
Santa Barbara Museum
of Natural History
2559 Puesta del Sol Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93105 USA
Tel (805) 682-4711, ext. 334
Fax (805) 569-3170

Photographs: Henry W. Chaney

Publication: 1992



Magnetic identification or label holders are flexible, rubberized, and come in a variety of sizes. The most practical size is 1in wide x 1/8in thick. The identification holders can be ordered in a variety of lengths up to 1000ft. They can be ordered pre-cut from the factory in standard (e.g. 5in) lengths.

Labels are generated on a computer and printed on paper or card stock in a variety of type sizes depending on the taxonomic level that is being indicated (e.g., family label in all capitals and in larger type size than genus labels). Colored papers can be used as well to impart additional information. The labels are cut to size and inserted into the holders (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. top, Storage cabinet with metal drawers demonstrating the use of magnetic label holders. 
                bottom, Detail of drawers with magnetic label holders

Materials Tools Supplies

  • Computer-generated paper labels or typewritten paper labels or handwritten paper labels
  • Magnetic label holders, 1in wide or magnetic tape, 1in wide or magnetic sheets, cut in a variety of dimensions
  • Plastic label tape made with punched letter/number system


In the dry collections a genus or species label is applied to the right side of each drawer and a family label is applied on the left and at the top of a bank of drawers containing similar material (Fig. 1, top). A similar configuration can be used in the wet collection where magnetic label holders are applied to the flat earthquake barrier on the front of each shelf. As collections grow and space allocations change, the labels can be replaced easily or the holders simply moved to new locations and reinstalled.

Another label product is flexible magnetic tape which comes in a variety of lengths and widths. Tapes which are 1in wide work best. One side is coated with a pressure sensitive adhesive to which labels can be adhered when the protective backing is removed.

One inch wide plastic labeling tapes, in a variety of colors, can be punched with letters (words) or numbers and then adhered to the magnetic tape. The tape can be applied where needed and moved as required. However, this system does not provide as much flexibility as the magnetic label holders in which a paper label is inserted. Moreover, the adhesive backing on the plastic punched tapes often fails, especially when the tapes are moved frequently or with changing environmental conditions (e.g., high humidity).

Thin sheets of flexible magnetic material, cut in a diversity of dimensions and shapes, can be printed to produce a variety of commonly used signs. Special notices, such as “Fumigation in Progress,” “To Be Identified,” or “To Be Catalogued” can be made and applied to metal storage cabinets and shelving in collection ranges.

The name and logo of an institution can be printed on the same material and applied to the door of a car or truck when used on field trips or other official business. Donor plaques can be produced and applied to a cabinet in appropriate locations.

By utilizing thin sheets of flexible magnetic material, this system provides considerable flexibility in design potential in contrast to permanently adhering a metal name plate to the front of the cabinet or painting on a donor acknowledgment.

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