As I’ve mentioned before, orphaned collections are are major source of acquisitions at VMNH. Collections can become orphaned for all kinds of reasons, but a common one is when a prolific researcher spends a career at a university building a large collection and then retires. Most universities don’t have the space or personnel to deal with large collections if there’s no faculty member specifically working on them, so these collections often end up being transferred to museums.
Dr. Stephen Scheckler is Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences and Geosciences at Virginia Tech, and spent several decades building a large collection of fossil plants, mostly from Virginia and West Virginia. With Dr. Scheckler’s retirement, Virginia Tech decided to transfer this important collection to VMNH, where it will be integrated into our existing paleobotany collections.
The collection is pretty large, consisting of 16 specimen cases (which were included in the transfer). Crucially, it also includes locality and geologic data for each specimen, which is what makes this collection so valuable from a scientific standpoint. In fact, without the associated data, we most likely would not have accepted the collection. Dr. Scheckler also included a large number of reprints of paleobotany papers, many of which were based on specimens in this collection, for the VMNH library.
When we picked up the collection almost everything was already boxed up for shipping, so I’ve not yet seen most of the specimens. But there were a few oversized pieces that weren’t in boxes:
I’d like to thank Dr. Scheckler, as well as Dr. Brenda Winkel and Jacob Waller from the Virginia Tech Department of Biological Sciences, and the VMNH Foundation and our paleontology and buildings and grounds staff for making this transfer possible.