White Ink Pens and FIC

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    • #131779

      I have two questions:

      1. Does anyone know where good white ink pens (for labeling items that are metal or wood, but are in very dark colors) can be purchased. I can’t find them on Gaylord’s or other websites. I’m seeking quality marking pens that will last.

      2. We are reviewing a previously completed accessions list, and as part of the item code, the letters “FIC” were written. For example, 86 FIC.xxx.xxx

      Does anyone know what this might refer to? The person involved in recording these accessions is no longer able to answer any questions.

      Thank you.

    • #131792

      FIC-Found in Collection

    • #131791

      I used to use mapping pen nibs with white drawing ink, but switched to Pilot gel pens in white (fine) and have found them to be lightfast and very easy to write with. I protect the surface with a layer of Paraloid (Acryloid) B72 in acetone first, and protect the number with a further layer when the ink has dried. Pilot pens are often available from art supply and craft shops or online from suppliers like http://www.cultpens.com/
      Hope this helps

    • #131790

      Thanks, Carolyn,

      So you are stating that in 1986, this item was found as part of a collection, but not previously documented?


    • #131789

      Thanks, Helena. I’m also assuming that clear nail polish would suffice for Paraloid (Acryloid) B72 in acetone?



    • #131788
      Kevin Nunnelee

      An FIC accession number is usually put on items that are “found in the collection” without any other tags or clues as to where they may have come from. Additionally, as is the case for my collections, I assign an FIC accession number to items that fall under one of the cataloguing methods that were used in the past.

      FIC numbers generally tell you what year the object was found, as well as a number that is assign to show the order in which the number was found. For example, at my museum, our FIC number looks like this: FIC2014.00.01. The first number is the year the object was found, the second number (the 00) tells us that the object was not part of an accession for that year, and the last number (01) tells me that the item was the first object that was found in collections for that year. Now, if your FIC number looks like: 86FICxxx.xxx, the 86 could be the order or the date, without knowing what the “xxx.xxx” is. Hope this helps!


    • #131787

      Noooo ! Please don’t use clear nail varnish – it is only intended to last for a few days and is usually made of cellulose nitrate or similar. It will deteriorate, darken, crosslink, shrink and become acidic. It is not safe to use on objects and may make numbers unreadable in a few years.

      Paraloid (Acryloid) B72 is a copolymer of ethyl methacrylate and methyl acrylate and is extremely stable. It is a Feller Class A polymer, meaning it should remain substantially unchanged (colorless, transparent and soluble in solvents) for at least a century. You can buy it from a variety of conservation and paint suppliers as dry beads which you mix up to a 20% weight/volume solution (20g resin to 100mls acetone). You can keep it in a clean glass jar with a solvent-proof lid.

    • #131786
      Janice Klein

      You took the word (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO) right out of my mouth. Nail polish has a ton of contaminants in it (including perfume) that will damage your object. There are a number of publications on how to apply numbers to objects. The most recent is in Museum Registration Methods 5 (“the registrar’s Bible”). If you are working with collections in any way you need to have this resource. It has answers to both of these questions and many more. Another resource that will provide excellent best practice information is the Registrar’s Committee listserv. If you are not on it, join NOW. Here’s how: http://www.rcaam.org/Listserv

    • #131785
      Jim Hansmann

      As previously mentioned, FIC stands for Found in Collection and refers to objects, as Kevin says, that have no identifying information on where they came from. Another format might be 2014.FIC.1, for the first item, without any donor or other info, found in your collection this year.
      I’ve heard of some museums that don’t want to mix alpha and numeric will use a “code” number such as 999 in place of FIC thus, 2014.999.1, others think that may be too dicey.

    • #131784

      Thanks, everyone!


    • #131783

      Just checking that FIC might be used in the accession catalogue as a reference to provenance, but would not be written on the object?

      The Accession number is the object’s unique identifier and might include the year e.g. 2014.1 or 2014.65 but would not include other references about donor, origin or material type.

      If an object is going on loan to another museum, it is good practice to include the museum’s code. In the UK the Museum Documentation Association assigns a 5 letter code to each museum to avoid duplication e.g. BRPMG Bridport Museum (and Gallery). Nationals may have a shorter code (BM British Museum).

      You want as small and simple a number as possible to write on the object, so I wouldn’t recommend writing anything other than the accession number itself as a normal practice.

    • #131782
      Becca DuBey

      There is a wonderful post from last year that describes using numbers typed (ink jet printed) on paper and glued to artifacts using Acryloid B-72 in Acetone. I’ve been using it successfully,and since I have a tremor in my hand I find it much easier and quicker. It’s the same method, a barrier layer, press the paper into place, and coat it.

      Also, yes, I do label artifacts with an FIC number, usually a tag that is tied. This is the only way to begin documenting the artifact, at least to catalog it and find it when searching. Sometimes, when going through the old catalogs, or doing shelf inventories, I manage to match the original record with the artifact. I replace the FIC number, but record it in the catalog. I use Past Perfect and have given all my FIC artifacts the Accession number FIC, then add the year and object number within the year as the Object ID. This way I can compare all my FIC from one file.

    • #131781

      That’s fine – there’s a big difference between labelling an artefact (tieing on a tag) as this can be easily removed and marking an artefact. Labels can also be used for loan numbers, temporary numbers, entry numbers. Marking is more permanent and is only used for the Accession number. Even though it can be removed or changed, doing so causes stress and risk to the object (as well as the person…) and so is a last resort.

    • #131780
      Sharon McCullar

      In support of the points being made by colleagues, I also try to affix FIC numbers to objects with paper tags rather than a physical mark. When the original record is found, the process of properly marking the object with the Object ID number is made much easier with this procedure. I would also point out that a note needs to be made in the FIC record as to the correct Object ID number for the FIC object to ensure that FIC records are cleared from the system properly. I use YEAR.001 as the Accession for all FICS, Object ID YEAR.001.xxx. When an FIC is solved, I make a note in the database FIC accession record, delete the FIC object ID # and make a note in the FIC paper record. If an exhibit record or other document bears the old FIC Object ID # it is transparent what the object ID is for the object going forward for someone looking in the FIC file.

      I appreciate everyone’s input!
      Sharon McCullar
      Curator of Collections
      Lakeshore Museum Center
      Muskegon Michigan

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