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Durable Specimen Labels

Purpose

The purpose of this contribution is to suggest a label material that is stable and will hold up well under most museum preparation and storage conditions.

Author(s)

Julio Gisbert
Museo Nacional
de Ciencias Naturales
C/ Jose Gutierrez Abascal, 2
28006 Madrid SPAIN.
Phone: 4.11.13.28
Fax: 5.64.50.78

Rosa García-Perea
Museo Nacional
de Ciencias Naturales
C/ Jose Gutierrez Abascal, 2
28006 Madrid SPAIN.
Phone: 4.11.13.28
Fax: 5.64.50.78

Fernando Palacios
Museo Nacional
de Ciencias Naturales
C/ Jose Gutierrez Abascal, 2
28006 Madrid SPAIN.
Phone: 4.11.13.28
Fax: 5.64.50.78

Photographs:
Rosa García-Perea

Publication: 1992

 

Description

The labels are made with a synthetic paper-like film made of spunbonded olefin fibers (Fig. 1). 

Figure 1. Examples of spunbonded olefin labels. top, Dot matrix printer. middle, Electric typewriter. bottom, Handwritten.


It is light-weight, highly resistant to tearing, easy to cut and perforate, and economical. It is a good material for specimen labels because:

  • It can be easily embossed with a hard pencil, fine point ball-point pen without ink, or a typewriter or dot-matrix printer without a ribbon. The inscription is permanent and can be read directly or with a raking light (Fig. 2).



    Figure 2. Label engraved with a dot matrix printer without ink, photographed against light.

  • It also can be written and printed on with pencil, permanent ink, typewriter, or dot matrix printer. However, certain permanent inks have a tendency to “bleed” on this material.
  • It has been proven very good for labeling specimens stored in standard preserving and fixing fluids (70% ethyl alcohol and 10% formalin), and under freezing conditions, including liquid nitrogen.
  • It has been successfully used in common procedures for cleaning skeletal material, such as maceration, chemical cleaning and degreasing.
  • It is resistant to conventional and enzyme detergents.
  • It is not affected by skin tanning procedures using salt and potassium aluminum sulfate.
  • During tissue preparation, it is stable in 5% nitric acid, xylol, toluol, paraffin, chloroform, acetic acid, and Bouin’s fixative (in the last case, labels stain yellow because of picric acid).
  • It remains stable in fumigation with some commonly used pesticides.


Materials Tools Supplies

  • High density fiber, spunbonded olefin sheeting, with corona and anti-static surface treatment, type 1056D


Comments

This synthetic film cannot be used in a laser printer because the heat reached by such printers exceeds the melting point of the spunbonded olefin (135ºC). It shrinks in temperatures over 100ºC. The manufacturer recommends keeping temperatures below 79ºC .

Commercial tanning preparations cause it to wrinkle making the label difficult to read. It is eaten by dermestid beetles and therefore should not be used on specimens being cleaned in beetle colonies. The material becomes fragile after more than five years exposure to outdoor conditions.


Adapted From

Gisbert, J , F. Palacios, and R. García-Perea . 1990. Labeling vertebrate collections with Tyvek® synthetic paper. Collection Forum (6)1:35-37.

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