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great great grandmas shell collection
05-09-2008, 12:11 PM,
great great grandmas shell collection
Hello, im knew to this forum, my name is Sarah and i live in Melbourne Australia. i have recently inherited my great great grandmothers shell collection which has been sitting in a cupboard for around 80yrs. initially i thought there were a few hundred shells but on closer inspection there are at least a few THOUSAND!

i have started sorting them into families (at the rate im going its going to take a couple of years  <img src="images/icones/icon9.gif" alt="images/icones/icon9.gif" style="border:0" /> ) What is the best way of sorting the shells and howon eart do i store them, at the moment they are in old cardboard boxes and only a few of them are named. Im sure most of them are common boring shells because that side of my family is known for hoarding, but out of all those shells at least a few of them must be valuable, i know my great great grandmother did a lot of traveling. i dont really wanna throw any of them out, but i live in a tiny house and dont have any room for thousands of shells. Maybe one day i will sell them but i want to knwo what im dealing with first. are there any shell valuers in Australia?

please help, any good books around with big pics? ill probably start posting some pics to get at least a few of them named, and to make sure the ones that are already named are correct.

thanks for your help


05-09-2008, 01:05 PM,
great great grandmas shell collection
Hello Sarah,

Welcome to the website. I hope we will be able to help you in some way. Regarding sorting the shells into families - have you seen the family identification page on this website?  That may be helpful, and some of the smaller pictures on that page will be updated shortly so that they will show more species.

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As far as books go, there are two general types - inexpensive books that show a small sampling of the commoner shells from a given family or a given location; and large, high quality books that cover a particular family or a particular geographic location in great detail, which are usually very expensive. Your local library is likely to have a number of books in the first category, but is not likely to have very many of the more specialized books. There is an excellent 2-volume set called Australian Marine Shells by Barry Wilson which your library might have.  That would be well worth looking at if you can find it, though chances are the majority of your shells are not from Australia. Shells of the Philippines by Springsteen & Leobrera is quite good, though the pictures are not of the quality seen in the Australian book. Of the more general types of books, the Compendium of Seashells by Abbott is probably the best, simply because of the large number of species illustrated. But again, it can be hard to find and expensive to buy.

Most collectors house their collections in a cabinet of some sort with shallow sliding drawers or trays. A shell collection takes up a lot more space than a stamp or coin collection! Here is a view of some of my cabinets. Not fancy, just functional:

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As a shell dealer I need a bit more room than the average collector. I have 7 more rows of 5 like the row you see here, for a total of 40 cabinets, each 7 feet tall and 2 feet wide.

Do feel free to post your pictures and we'll do what we can to put names on them (though it may take us a week or more to ID several thousand shells) :-) You can include more than one shell in a picture, but not too many. When a large number of shells are included in one picture the images are necessarily small, and there isn't enough detail to distinghish between similar species. If you are only going to provide one view of a shell, a straight-on ventral view (like you see in most books) is usually best.

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