Somewhere in the gulf between paleontology and sanity....
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
7000 of anything is a lot,
even if it is just phonograph needles. These were manufactured at some point before 1954 when Pfanstiehl Chemical Corporation changed their name to Pfansteihl Laboratories. Why do I look these things up? Apparently I don't have enough to do. I'm looking for a volunteer to count them all and see how many needles have been used in the past 56 years. I'm guessing about 30.
[Edited to answer a very good question, this was supposed to be part of the original post]
Q:Were these used as blanks to make needle styli for mechanical prep?
A:Yes, in fact, in the old days before drill bits or carbide were cheap enough or readily accessible enough, phonograph needles were used as a stylus to pick grains of rock from specimens. In lieu of the handy pin vises we use today, these styli would be pounded into a dowel rod, much like many inexpensive dissecting probes are constructed today.
Thanks to Dr. Wann Langston Jr. for comments on the historical background.
Matthew Brown runs the vertebrate paleontology collections at the University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences. Previously, he worked at the University of Chicago, Field Museum of Natural History, the National Park Service at Petrified Forest, and has taught course in laboratory methods in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, Cal State San Bernardino, and UT's Department of Geological Sciences.