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Formed Rod Mounts 

"Shadowbox Mounting" 

By: John Barlowe

Shadowboxes can present unique challenges in how to mount the items being featured. They need to be mounted securely, but in a non-invasive way, that does no damage to the item. Here is a unique method of mounting, called "Formed Rod Mounting". Not all framers are skilled in this technique, which requires precision placement as well as custom forming of the bent rods. The rods also need to be padded so as not to cause abrasive damage over time. As you can see from the detail photos, this methods holds securely and is almost invisible.

The bent rods were formed and color matched to these 4 million years old, fossilized Giant Scallop Shells / Chesapecten Jeffersonius

Close up of formed rod mounts

Interesting tidbits about Chesapecten Jeffersonius

Governor Wilder signed a bill naming Chesapecten Jeffersonius Virginia's official state fossil. This fossil scallop from Virginia's coastal plain is the first fossil figured and described from the New World.

In 1687, Martin Lister published the first known drawing of the scallop. While traveling near Yorktown in 1824, geologist John Finch gathered what was to become the first comprehensive collection of fossils from North America. Fossils were so common in this area in the late 1800s that local inhabitants used them in building foundations and as dishes and water ladles.

After collecting a large variety of mollusks specimens, Finch bestowed his collection on the prominent scientists at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. These scientists had the task of describing and naming the fossils, all of which were new to science. One scientist, Thomas Say, described the species and named it Pecten jeffersonius to honor Thomas Jefferson. For unexplained reasons, the scientists at ANSP believed the specimens had been found along the St. Marys River in Maryland, where Finch had also done some collecting.

In 1975, Dr. Lauck Ward, then employed by the United States Geological Survey, conducted research that proved the specimens had come from Virginia, and renamed the fossil Chesapecten jeffersonius. Ward's study revealed the named fossils had originated from a much younger geological unit than that exposed on the St. Marys River. The confusion over localities had confounded paleontological literature for more than 150 years and caused the Virginia Pliocene fossil names to be wrongfully applied to the Maryland Miocene fossil species.

Ward approached the VMNH staff and board and suggested that the historically significant shell deserved the honor of becoming Virginia's official fossil. Five years later, after having joined VMNH as Curator in Invertebrate Paleontology, Ward visited the fossil-rich deposits along the James River across from Jamestown and collected over 150 specimens of Chesapecten jeffersonius. The specimens were mounted in oak frames and distributed to members of the Virginia General Assembly in March 1992. That summer, Ward's suggestion was reinforced when members of the General Assembly received more Chesapecten jeffersonius samples. These had been collected by a group of honor students led by Dr. Gerald Johnson at the College of William & Mary. It was no wonder that, when Chesapecten jeffersonius was suggested as a state fossil, most General Assembly members were already quite familiar with the unique fossil. The fossil bill successfully passed both the House and Senate.

Credit for works found in the Virginia Explorer 

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