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Professional fossil preparators at the British Museum (Natural History), 1843-1990*Since the inception of the British Museum (Natural History) in 1881 (now the Natural History Museum, London), the collection, development and mounting of fossils for scientific study and public exhibition have been undertaken by fossil preparators. Originally known as masons, because of their rock-working skills, their roles expanded in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when, at the forefront of the developing science of palaeontology, the Museum was actively obtaining fossil material from the UK and abroad to build the collections. As greater numbers of more impressive specimens were put on public display, these preparators developed new and better methods to recover and transport fossils from the field, and technical improvements, in the form of powered tools, enabled more detailed mechanical preparation to be undertaken. A recurring theme in the history of palaeontological preparation has been that sons often followed in their fathers’ footsteps in earth sciences. William and Thomas Davies, Caleb and Frank Barlow, and Louis and Robert Parsons were all father-and-son geologists and preparators.