For field-work the collector will require a strong digger or trowel, in order to obtain tubers, bulbs, & c., in an undamaged condition. The blade should be 6in. or 7in. in length, concave on the upper surface, 1 ½in. broad at the base, tapering to a narrow, rounded end, with sharp edges. The shank should be continued upwards for about 4in., and should have a piece of puriri or other hard wood riveted in the front and shaped to form a convenient handle. An old file may be made into an unbreakable digger by any intelligent blacksmith.
The vasculum, or collecting-box, may be of any convenient size or shape, according to the fancy of the bearer. It should be made of light sheet-zinc or tin, and lacquered both inside and out. Where a large number of specimens is not required, its length may be from 20in. to 24in. by 6in. or 7in. broad, and from 4in. to 5in. in depth. The sides and ends should be convex, and the lid should open nearly the full length and width of the upper side. A stout handle, large enough for the hand to be passed through, should be attached to the upper end, and two strong loops should be fixed on one side to allow of the box being carried by a strap when required.
Many collectors prefer to use a portfolio, which, like the vasculum, may be made of any convenient size; usually it will be found most advantageous if of the same dimensions as the herbarium-sheets. It can be made of two stout millboards covered with American cloth, and connected by a leather back. The whole should be secured by two light straps, with buckles, so that pressure may be regulated as required; and a convenient handle should be attached. It should be filled with folded sheets of any thin soft paper, about ¼in. shorter and narrower than the covers. Old newspapers cut to the proper size will answer the purpose. The specimens should be laid in the loose sheets, and the sheets removed to the drying-press on reaching home. It saves much time and trouble to keep small, delicate, or flaccid specimens in these rough papers until they are thoroughly dry.
For very small specimens a pocket press the size of an octavo volume is very serviceable. It may be made of common blotting-paper, with cardboard covers secured by stout twine, or even by elastic rings. A book may easily be utilized for a pocket press if nothing better can be obtained.
Thin sheet guttapercha will often be found a great convenience especially when collecting aquatic plants, in the absence of a portable press. Isoetes, Naias, Potamogeton, and other water-plants, it tightly wrapped in this material, and packed so as to prevent bruising, may be kept in good condition for a week of ten days, and carried hundreds of miles without injury.
Many plants may be kept in the vasculum for several days if needed without sustaining injury. During protracted excursions this is occasionally a great convenience, but as a rule specimens should be placed in the drying-press as soon as possible after they are collected.