© 1999 Rik Dillen

Rik Dillen has produced the following good suggestion when trading minerals or fossil that you should study before proceeding.'s also a good place to wrongly condemn, as we've seen here before on these lists.
I think caution is definitely called for in this. Mistakes happen from time to time, and shipments get lost in transit sometimes.
There are also bad eggs out there, too, but I think we do have to be somewhat careful in our approach, as you have been. You asked whether anyone had heard from this person, rather than just saying that he did you wrong. That seems like a good approach.
>Best wishes,
>George Campbell
>OsoSoft Mineral Connection

Yes, George, you are right that this is a risky medium. Therefore I thought it could be a good idea to write down some suggestions for less experienced collectors who want to exchange minerals.
I have put a list of ideas together (from my viewpoint), and this list is open for discussion. If you have more ideas, just go ahead : post them to the list - it's right on topic (I hope).
1. Before sending anything, make sure the other party agrees with what you send. If necessary send 5-6 e-mails back and forward, rather than sending specimens that in your eyes are masterpieces, but in the eyes of the other collector... junk :>)) Describe the specimens you propose to send honestly, and don't exaggerate the quality. On the contrary, it is even better to under-estimate somewhat the specimens you will send. There will be more satisfaction afterwards.
2. Start small (few specimens, not bad quality !) with someone you don't know. After a few shipments you will be able to judge whether the person can fulfill your wishes AND vice versa.
3. It's always best that one sends first, whilst the other one waits until the parcel arrives. This allows for a fair trade. Next time the other one of the exchange partners sends first. If one of the two partners involved has much more to offer than the other one, it might be best that the one who has the fewest specimens to offer sends first ; the other one has than certainly enough stuff to make up a fair exchange.
4. Acknowledge reception of any parcel immediately. This costs you only a few keystrokes !
5. If you don't have the time to send your exchange parcel immediately (maximum e.g. 2 weeks) make sure you notify the partner of the delay. This is just a matter of politeness.
6. It is in certain circumstances acceptable that there is even a very long delay, even a year or so. But in that case I would suggest that you clearly describe the situation for the partner, and that you send regularly (e.g. every 2 months or so) a short message as a sign of life with a brief description of the situation and the E.T.A. (estimated time of arrival)...
7. If you are not interested in an exchange proposal you receive, it's better to tell this honestly right-a-way. In this way you avoid frustrations later.
8. An exchange operation should always be what the psychologists call a "win-win-situation", meaning that the operation should be beneficial for both partners. A good example is the exchange of own found very rare minerals : you give something away that did cost you almost nothing (depending on the case, of course), and in its place you get a specimen that didn't cost your partner anything but that for you is very valuable.
9. Before any shipment discuss the method of shipment, documents, custom's declarations, insurance issues etc. with your partner. In some countries you can get a fine due to ignorance of the sender (e.g. here in Belgium). For a small parcel "minerals for study purposes - no commercial value" will do, but a large, valuable parcel needs a more sophisticated treatment.
10. Be aware that shipping cost depends much on 1°/ the choice between Air Mail, surface Mail and fast delivery services, 2°/ the weight of the parcel and 3°/ the country of the sender. Mail cost from Europe to the USA is usually much more expensive than the reverse (the jetstream comes usually from the USA to Europe... they just use less fuel I think :>)).
11. If a parcel is valuable, it is probably a good idea to insure it. Keep all tags and documents after sending ! Take into account that your destinee might have to pay duty and taxes on the INSURED or the declared value, whichever is the HIGHEST.
12. Pack your specimens very carefully. They should be packed so that you can drop the parcel from a height of 2 m on the floor several times without any damage... This does not imply that you should drop every parcel once out of your window before sending, but it's just a rule of thumb. Use an extra plastic bag inside, and if the box is not full fill it up completely with light styrofoam, bubble sheet or whatever you have available, so that (even individually packed) specimens can not move around. Wrap the outer side with water-resistent paper or plastic, and close the whole thing with cord. Make sure that postage stamps, adress labels etc. are fixed firmly (especially on plastic packing material) to avoid that they get lost.
13. If applicable, use the necessary custom's documents (at least the small green declaration label) ; if you don't know what's necessary, contact the destinee first before sending.
14. Tune with the destinee if it is necessary to avoid putting any labels, prices, letters or whatever in or on the parcel. In Belgium e.g. the difference between azurite and linarite is 21 resp. 6 % of V.A.T., plus, for azurite, a special permit for import (in principle azurite is considered as a "stone that can be used for the production or ornaments", even if only crystals of 2 mm are present). Not all custom officers understand exactly what the target of a law is. More ideas ? You disagree with certain statements ? Post it !
Rik Dillen Doornstraat 15 B-9170 Sint-Gillis-Waas Belgium Tel. + 32 3 770 6007 E-mail
Homepage :
>>> Belgian minerals (ardennite, vantasselite, ferristrunzite and more)
>>> An own find on a Korean (and now again on a Guinean) postage stamp !
>>> Exchange list

To subscribe or unsubscribe to the Rockhoundz List, send mail to <> with the following keys: # # subscribe rockhounds (or) unsubscribe rockhounds # # |

©2001- GeoNord