Labeling and Cataloging
Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils

Why ? !

You went on a field trip and found a wonderful specimen that you and the folks you were with could not identify in the field. You had some tantalizing suggestions and carefully brought it home, along with a detailed description of where you found it and what minerals were around it. And after two weeks of working through every test in all your fieldbooks, you finally decide it must be Leaverite and put it on the shelves with the rest of your collection.

Fast forward too many of years.

You died in an earthquake when your rock collection was shaken off the shelves and collapsed your house as it hit the floor. Your kids are settling your estate and selling off or claiming what you left behind according to your Will. They come to your rock collection. How are they going to identify the rare specimen of Leaverite that your Will says they should donate to the Smithsonian because the write-off will eliminate all the estate taxes?

Duh! The specimen was properly labeled. And please forgive me for the horrible drama.


Labeling should have two parts; marking the stone with an identifier, and creating a label with the same identifier and the significant details (recording of all the details is left for the catalog, connected by the identifier). The identifier is nothing more than a serial number, but allows you to connect stone and label (and catalog) should they ever become seperated because the same, unique number is on each.

A label is typically something like a blank business card that has been folded in half to the shape of an L. The part that sticks up has the name of the mineral and where it was collected written on it, along with the identifier for the specimen. A label might look like


The catalog entry (more below) contains the identifier.

The stone itself has the identifier attached to it. There are many ways to do this.

The identifier is nothing more than a sequence number; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc..


A catalog is a list of all the rocks you have in your collection, along with their identifier and all details about them. You probably know more about each rock you have than will fit well on a label, and a catalog gives you a place to keep this information. Your catalog may be nothing fancier than a stack of index cards, or it might be a computer database.

Each catalog entry will contain the label information, the identifier, and additional details such as when found, full details of where found, the chemical formula, assiciated/secondary minerals identified, and for larger collections, where the specimen is physically stored. It might also contain pictures of the specimen and the field trip you collected it on, what identification tests you performed, and a list of what shows you have displayed it at. And if you specimen was purchased, the details of the purchase and everything from the original label would be included.

A catalog entry might look like
Principal Mineral(s) Formula Picture Locality When Collected Matrix Secondary Mineral(s) Comments Reference Hardness Streak Specific Gravity Crystal Form(s)
Azurite Cu3(OH)2(CO3)2 Too Ugly
broke camera
Mexico Purchased from Rozema's Rockpile in 1963 None Malachite Named after the mineral's color by Robert Jameson in 1805; an earlier name was Blue Malachite. #0001 3 1/2 to 4 Blue 3.7 - 3.8 Monoclinic and radiating

Some Help

I have put together some files containing all the numbers between 0000 and 9999. You can download one and print it out from your word processor. The type size used was deliberately large so that clear labels would result when printed 2-up or 4-up pages to a regular 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. Cut the paper into strips, cut off each label, and stick them to your rocks with glue or clear finish as described above.

The first set of files contains only the numbers

View Numbers Only as Text file (no formatting)
Download Numbers Only as Text file
Download Numbers Only as MacWrite Pro 1.5 file
Download Numbers Only as WORD 6 file

The second set of files contains the numbers and a prefix you will need to change with your word processor from my name to yours (or your initials).

View Numbers w/ Prefix as Text file (no formatting)
Download Numbers w/ Prefix as Text file
Download Numbers w/ Prefix as MacWrite Pro 1.5 file
Download Numbers w/ Prefix as WORD 6 file

When you load one of these text files into a word processor, make sure you set the format to include 8 (or 10) columns or you will waste a lot of paper.

The .bin suffix was appended to some of these files so that your browser would download instead of displaying them - you can simply rename the file when it arrives on your hard disk.

Some of these files have a page at the end where the numbers are prefixed with a question mark. If you cut/paste this page into a new document, you can change the question mark to a new thousand to extend the file quickly.

You can return to The Tomaszewski Family Public Home Page, or visit my personal homepage for more Rockhounding information, or check out my collection of links for rockhounds, or view some specimens from my collection, or review some field trip reports, or learn how to make your own lapidary equipment, or send me Email at

Current date and time is Tuesday, 30-May-2023 21:09:43 EDT and the Greenwich date and time is Wednesday, 31-May-2023 01:09:43 GMT. You are viewing this page from: and are visitor number 25659. This page was first published on 26 August 1998 and was last updated on Friday, 02-Sep-2022 18:42:17 EDT.