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I'm new to shell collecting. Help?
01-20-2007, 04:25 PM,
I'm new to shell collecting. Help?
Hello, everyone. I'm new to shell collecting and need some help. I live in New York and I'm an artist. I had this beautiful shell for
years and it was the only beautiful object in my otherwise monastic bedroom. One day I began to look at it carefully and realized I knew nothing about it. So I began to do some research and found out its an atlantic tiger triton. I've since bought several books. But now I have questions. I'm interested in buying gem condition shells so how do I know whether they are supposed to come with the operculum? What are great websites for collected rare shells? Are there seashell trade shows that come to New York City? Why is the Reeve abaster murex from 1839 considered the finest of its type? I can go on and on with questions but this seems to be a good start. Thanks to all of you respond.

01-23-2007, 01:13 PM,
I'm new to shell collecting. Help?

Welcome to the website. Gem specimen shells are available from a number of reputable dealers, myself included. The only way to know if a shell should have an operculum is to read about the families and learn which ones have opercs and which don't. Cowries (Cypraeidae), Harp Shells (Harpidae), Nutmegs (Cancellariidae), Abalones (Haliotidae), Miters (Mitridae), Margin Shells (Marginellidae), Bubble Shells (Bullidae), Limpets of various kinds, most Olive Shells (Olividae) and many Volutes do not have an operculum. Most other gastropod families do. In some families, like Murex Shells (Muricidae), Tritons (Ranellidae), Whelks (Buccinidae), Conchs (Strombidae), Turban Shells (Turbinidae), Frog Shells (Bursidae) and Spindle and Tulip Shells (Fasciolariidae), the operculum is considered very important by serious collectors. In other families like Sundials (Architectonicidae), Carrier Shells (Xenophoridae), Augers (Terebridae), Turret Shells (Turritellidae), Ceriths (Cerithiidae), Helmet and Bonnet Shells (Cassidae), Mud Whelks (Nassariidae), etc. the operculum, while considered a "plus", is of less importance to many collectors. Cone Shells (Conidae) have a very small operculum. Serious Cone collectors like to have it whenever possible, but it is often not possible simply because those who collect the shells often don't bother to find and save the tiny thing. If you select the "Collectors Websites" link on the homepage of this website, you'll find many more sites offering a great deal of information.

Which shell is "the finest of its type" is of course a matter of personal opinion. However, the Alabaster Murex is, in my opinion, surely one of most visually impressive species that is fairly easy to obtain. It is quite large (more than 6 inches sometimes), and the thin, elegant varices are truly exquisite. (I have a number of outstanding specimens of this species).

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