Skip to Main Content

Condition Reporting


Point crack.
This stone point has a large crack, a chipped tip, and a rectangular area of shiny adhesive residue where a label was once present. Stone points in tools and weapons may also be loose. The condition record should indicate if they are loose, but also if they are not currently loose.

Photo credit: Alaska State Museum collection II-A-3503

Fill in crack vs vein.
The stone of this sculpture has natural veins but also some serious cracks that have been filled with a yellow material. These should be noted and monitored. If it is possible to identify that fill material, it would be a valuable part of the record. Fill materials sometimes age poorly and cause instability later.

Photo credit: Alaska State Museum collection V-A-517

Hazard poison.
This slate point was possibly used for hunting whales, and the oral history and published literature indicates some cultures used poison. Be aware that stone points may be hazardous in unseen ways. Indicate the possibility of toxins when cataloging items like this.

Photo credit: Alaska State Museum collection II-F-310

Cracked plus inlays.
This argillite bowl has a large crack, and several inlays. The condition record should indicate that all the inlays are present. Better yet to indicate three abalone and six bone inlays.

Photo credit: Alaska State Museum collection I-I-B-1025

Inlays missing.
The stern of this argillite canoe sculpture has a large missing chipped area. There are also six missing rectangular pieces of inlay along upper edge of the canoe under the gunwale. The curve along the edge of the canoe and the shape of the nearby reclining figure are interrupted by a recessed area that seems to have a hole or peg. Something is missing there.

Photo credit: Alaska State Museum collection II-B-822

Argillite lid loss.
Argillite is barely stone and still has a high clay content. This means it is sensitive to moisture, and also when it breaks it often crumbles along the break edges.

Photo credit: Sheldon Jackson Museum collection SJ-I-B-11

Pillar with fault.
This is the pillar in the center of a heavy vase-like argillite object. You can see a fault line of quartz running diagonally across this pillar. Quartz will not shrink or swell with changes in humidity, but argillite can. It is even more vulnerable at these quartz veins. If you look very very carefully in the image, you can also see a long vertical crack. The sections of argillite were joined together with glue, which can be seen reflecting the light slightly in two of the grooves. Analysis suggested it was old fish glue. Adhered areas are another place of vulnerability and should be noted in the condition report.
Fishing lures.
These fishing lures have stone components that are usually stable, but put stress on the other more delicate elements of the lure.

Photo credit: Sheldon Jackson Museum collection SJ-I-B-11

Petrified wood.
This piece of petrified wood has many serious cracks and is crumbling in association with this white and yellow powdery material deep inside the specimen.

Photo credit: Alaska State Museum collection

Fossil jaw.
This is the lower jaw of a mammoth, stained brown from burial with its teeth mostly intact. It is tempting to think of this as stone or a fossil, but really it is sub-fossilized material that is somewhere on a continuum between being bone and being stone. It is only partially mineralized.

Photo credit: Alaska State Museum collection I-B-209

Brucite minerals like asbestos.
Brucite is a mineral form of magnesium hydroxide, but this long grey fibrous crystalline structure looks similar to samples of asbestos in the collection. Be aware that mineral specimens can sometimes be hazardous. These delicate crystals have been wrapped with tape, which should be noted and described in the condition report.

Photo credit: Alaska State Museum collection IV-B-144