The label problem. 

a) and b) Transcription of ambiguous dates as exemplified by two handwritten labels from the locality (town) of Ruislip pertaining to different specimens; the middle number (month) on the date from the left label could be interpreted as February or November, depending on whether the number was written as a Roman numeral or not. The label on the right (b) has been handwritten by the same person and shows unequivocally that the middle number is indeed a Roman numeral but this finding also suggests that the collector also wrote 11 in the other label. c), d), e) and f) Transcription of emergence and collection dates. (c) Collection and emergence dates clearly stated on the handwritten label. (d) Emergence date inferred by known symbols (e.g., crosses and asterisks) and abbreviations or initials (e.g., ‘B.’ standing for ‘Bred’,  ‘l.’ standing for ‘larva’), (e) ‘o’ standing for ‘ova’, or (f) ‘R.’ standing for ‘reared’. g) and h) Transcription of faded information from (g) barely legible label produced with a mimeograph; (h) A similar type of label in a better conservation state. i) and j) Transcription of a barely legible, smudged number (corresponding to the year that the specimen was collected) from a printed label was easily performed by zooming in its corresponding image, as shown in the enlarged detail on the right. It became apparent that the stamped number was 96, and consequently the collection year was assumed to be 1896 (century inferred based on known period of activity for W.M. Reid).

  Part of: Paterson G, Albuquerque S, Blagoderov V, Brooks S, Cafferty S, Cane E, Carter V, Chainey J, Crowther R, Douglas L, Durant J, Duffell L, Hine A, Honey M, Huertas B, Howard T, Huxley R, Kitching I, Ledger S, McLaughlin C, Martin G, Mazzetta G, Penn M, Perera J, Sadka M, Scialabba E, Self A, Siebert D, Sleep C, Toloni F, Wing P (2016) iCollections – Digitising the British and Irish Butterflies in the Natural History Museum, London. Biodiversity Data Journal 4: e9559.