- I found a fossil, what next?
- Do you deal in fossils?
- I would like to buy a fossil – what must I observe?
I found a fossil, what next?
Advice: Correct behaviour when finding a fossil
In Germany the regulations for the protection of soil documents vary from Federal state to Federal state. When you find fossils, you should inform yourself about the valid local regulations before recovering the object you found, which will depend on the location of the find. Report your find to the Lower Bureau for the Conservation of Historic Monuments or the Bureau for Building Inspection within the municipal administration of the location of your find. Unfortunately the authorities in question do not always know the ropes; that is why it is recommended to turn either to a larger museum with a Geological department– in the region of the find – or to the Land Bureau for the Conservation of Historic Monuments. The expert there can tell you whether the object you found is of public interest or not. If needs be he can make a record of all the data of the object relevant for its scientific description, e.g. its age determination. These data heighten the value of a find. Moreover the expert should be able to inform you about further steps to be taken.
More often than not the Bureaus are very busy so that a response to your inquiry will take long. Hand in a written notification of your find, eventually with a photo so as to have an evidence. Stay patient and do not dig where you are not allowed to. A sound agreement can be reached in most cases.
Should you already have recovered the fossil because you were unaware of the legal situation or because you could not wait, please do report your find as quickly as possible with a fully detailed specification of its location. A late declaration is better than no declaration at all!
There is no general good advice possible for the treatment of a fossil after its recovery.
Generally speaking one can say: Do not wait too long with the preparation because the decaying process might begin once the fossil has been taken out of the environment which had conserved it for thousands of years. Leave the fossil preferably in the state it is in, i.e. no cleaning, no watering, no drying. Seek advice from the expert, we are happy to help.
Do you deal in fossils?
No, we do not deal in fossils, but we can prepare and conserve your fossil.
I would like to buy a fossil – what must I observe?
Ask questions and trust your own good common sense. Take a personal look at the fossil under a magnifying glass. Fossils are no catalogue goods. They will not become any more valuable or any rarer by dodgy stories about the circumstances of finding or rarity.
As a rule one can say that the exact location of the object, its age and its finder should be known to you – if the fossil is not just to be beautiful but also of scientific value. Do not merely rely on certifications, they are mostly only seemingly reliable and of no legal relevance. Fossils that are already prepared should be delivered together with a preparation report, in which the measures of the actual preparation and the materials used are listed. This kind of information will be worth good money in case of a restoration eventually needed later on.
Talk to your dealer. A reliable dealer will willingly answer the following questions:
Where is the piece from; age, location, finder?
Is it an original or a cast, are there additions (completions)
If it is prepared, can one get a report of the preparation listing the measures taken and the materials used?
Complements should always be recognizable at second sight. Unfortunately fantastic fakes are being sold as originals at high prices. Fossils do not get coloured and varnished brilliantly. As a rule you should prefer largely unprepared fossils and have them treated by a preparator you trust. Unfortunately, it happens very often that fossils are being prepared in a hurry and then spoiled- because one can obtain a triple price that way.