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Best way to ship fossils

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I am considering letting go a few of my mammal fossils but want to know the ins and outs of the shipping process. What’s the best and safest shipping, fed ex, ups etc.

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I've sent a few packages lately and a lot in the past, and I used to sell stuff on everyone's favorite auction site back when I was in high school. I almost always use USPS, and I've never had any of my shipments lost, broken, or anything go wrong like that with them. I also typically use flat rate boxes when applicable to save costs, and almost always get a tracking number for the receiver. When it comes to packing up the box, I usually use way more packaging and cushioning then necessary. Better be safe than sorry! Bubble wrap, old clothes/ scraps, news papers, styrofoam pellets, plastic baggies, and paper towels all work well as cushioning I find. Be sure if you end up shipping overseas or to other countries that you check up on their import/export laws on fossils too. Hope this helps.

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I can only mimic what Jackson has stated.  The more packing the better. If you can jiggle the item in the box while holding it, it is almost guaranteed to be broken by the time it gets to the destination. overpacking is the key!!!

And don't pack items with the assumption that the box will remain completely upright and therefore not need to be cushioned on top as well.

The second you hand it off to the shipper it gets tossed around, bumped, banged, and positioned upside down in with lots of other heavy packages piled on top of it.

You almost can't put too much cushion between the item and the outside world. ;)


I too have only dealt with the postal service for my shipping.  The other services were always much more expensive as opposed to the "flat rate boxes" from USPS, especially with as heavy as fossils

( rock ) can be.

The same weight sent by other means can easily be twice as costly.


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I agree with the above. What matters most is how the items are packed.

I try to make sure there is little room for movement of the items, with plenty of packing material in between the items and box. 

Usually each item is individually wrapped. Then packing material totally surrounding it. Where I can, I try also to double box the items. 

Flat plates are surrounded by sturdy, flat cardboard on both sides, then the cardboard is taped or plastic wrapped together.


So, packing material on bottom, individual wrapping, packing material on sides and top in first box.

Then, second box, packing material on bottom and sides, first box, packing material on top. 

I have never heard of my fossils having broken upon arrival at their destination. 


I've used both USPS and UPS, with no issues.

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Agreeing with all of the above. Pack as though you expect it to be drop-kicked off a wall a few times. Use extra reinforcement on anything thin. If you have a long bone to ship, I'd advise wrapping it in a tube or stiff sleeve. For a mixed lot of smalls and large pieces, I've had good results with packing the smalls in a plastic tub (with lots of padding) to prevent crushing.


And don't bother marking it "Fragile". It's been said in similar discussions on TFF that there are postal workers who will not only ignore such labelling, but will give the box an extra kick or throw!


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  • 2 years later...

The best delivery is the one that can be tracked. I'm telling you this from my experience, as I've been ordering from various sites for probably five years now. It would be best if you understood that anything could happen to your order. Maybe read the mistakes. It simply will not be sent or somewhere to be lost. Or perhaps you've stumbled on a scammer who will not deliver anything to you.

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Yeah, I believe in overpacking but don't make it too complicated to unpack.  People have sent me stuff in baggies that have too much tape.  You have to carefully clip the tape or use a scalpel/X-acto knife to slice it sometimes because pulling on the tape risks damage to a fragile fossil inside.


For fragile and/or valuable fossils, I like to put them in a box/container within the box with extra cardboard to protect from possible punctures though that almost never happens. 


For other things such as bones or jaw sections or sand dollars I like to wrap them individually in paper towel or toilet paper and then float them within a padding of plastic grocery bags with padding above and below and other padding around the item.  You should shake the box after it's packed to hear if the item(s) move around.  Pack securely but not necessarily super-tight.


For large heavy items like a well-mineralized whale vertebra or fossils in a matrix chunk, I like to wad up pages of newspaper and create a layer on the bottom of the box and add a layer of wadded-up thicker plastic grocery bags you can get your groceries packed in at Wal-mart.  The bones or matrix chunks get wrapped in bubble-wrap with more padding in between and around so they don't knock together or against the inside of the box.  Put another layer of plastic bags and wadded-up newspaper on top to the point that nothing moves around when you shake the box when it's closed.  You don't have to wad up the newspaper too tight because you want it to have some springiness like a shock absorber.


All that has worked well for me in the past.



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