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Profiting from the past: Are fossils a sound investment?
1 Dept. of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, North Carolina 28223-0001, USA;
2 Dept. of Economics and Finance, West Chester University, West Chester, Pennsylvania 19383, USA
The role of the amateur collector in the field of paleontology has been controversial to say the least. Additionally, the value of rare, museum-quality vertebrate fossils and object d’art invertebrate fossils appears to be, at least from anecdotal evidence, quickly rising. Both factors continue to fuel the debate regarding the problematical relationship between amateur collectors, professional paleontologists, and commercial fossil dealers, especially as important fossils disappear from the research community into private collections. Complicating this issue is the poorly understood value of many of the fossil specimens that commercial dealers claim are ideal investments.
Commercial dealers have long claimed that fossils are an excellent investment opportunity, and other sources, including the New York Times, have remarked that fossils have outperformed other investment options (McClain, 1996). Additionally, anecdotal evidence of dramatic increases in fossil prices, especially for rare vertebrate fossils, is common in large-circulation financial magazines (Rohleder, 2001).
Manuscript received 5 April 2013; accepted 19 May 2013