Return to Semper Augustus

Conchylomania

"That illustrious pair of true friends, Scipio and Laelius, joined one to another by the bond of affection and also by partnership in all virtues, just as they followed the path of active life with equal tread, so did they find relief together in mental relaxations. For it is agreed that they used to pick up shells and pebbles [conchulas et umbilicos] wandering on the beaches of Caieta and Laurentum."

Valerius Maximus, Memorable Doings and Sayings (VIII.8) from the anecdote related by Cicero, De Oratore (II.22)

In the eighteenth-century, there was a craze for seashells, especially exotic rarities and newly discovered specimens, that rivaled the mania for tulips the previous century. This conchylomania (from the Latin concha, "shellfish") derived from the colonial trade and exploration of the Dutch East India Company, which dominated the market in imported porcelain and spicesas well as shells that were eagerly sought by wealthy collectors.

"It is impossible! Empty! Why, Gloria maris is gone! Oh, what shall I do? Gone! and there are only eleven others in the world."

Darley Dale, The Glory of the Sea (1887, p. 53)

The most desirous was Conus gloriamaris. The earliest specimen was from a Dutch cabinet and is mentioned in a 1757 sales catalog, where it was listed as Gloria maris ("Glory of the Sea"). Now in the University Zoological Museum at Copenhagen, this rather modest (92 mm) and damaged shell (a growth line runs almost its entire length) was the holotype (the definitive type specimen) for the first scientific description of the speciesby Chemnitz in 1777, who borrowed it from the nobleman who had purchased it for 49 guilders (florins) twenty years before. But, because Chemnitz had not used binominal nomenclature in his Neues Systematisches Conchylien-Cabinet, this is the only shell to carry his name; indeed, it would not have been attached at all had he not described C. gloriamaris in a separate publication that did meet the proper naming criteria.

In 1792, four examples of C. gloriamaris were thought to exist; by 1865, there were ten, all originally from Dutch cabinets. Twenty years later, two more shells had been found. None were living specimens and nothing was known about their habitat until 1837, when Hugh Cuming, an intrepid English collector, discovered two immature snails (one three inches long, the other just half that size) on a shallow reef in the Philippines, which later was rumored to have been destroyed by an earthquake. It was feared that C. gloriamaris had become extinct, but then a live specimen was found in Indonesia in 1892 and another in 1896. Other than poorly documented finds, a live shell would not be collected for the next sixty yearsuntil 1957, when a Gloriamaris again was discovered in the Philippines (as excitedly but belatedly reported by The Times of London). By then, only two dozen examples were known, one of which sold that year for $2,000 (now almost $18,000). When Dance's book on shell collecting was published in 1966, forty-one had been found. Three years later, a colony of about seventy C. gloriamaris was discovered in the Solomon Islands and what for two centuries had been the rarest and most costly of shells became slightly more ordinary.



 Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) c.1663

Hanging in a dimly-lit gallery, the painting looks as if it might have come from the wall of a Dutch burgher's canal-side house. It is on loan from the City of Amsterdam, which was bequeathed the painting in 1847 and moved to the Rijksmuseum in 1885, the first Vermeer to hang there. Now there are four.

When displayed in 2017 as part of a show at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, however, the frame was exchanged for an elaborately carved gilded one. As to which is the correct frame, such are the mysteries of international art exhibitions.

 
On April 21, 1796, the extraordinary collection of the Dutch naturalist (and entomologist) Pièrre Lyonet, an avid collector of shells and later paintings, was put at auction, more than seven years after his death. The Catalogue raisonné as du célèbre Cabinet de coquilles de feu Pierre Lyonet lists almost thirteen hundred shells, including a Gloria maris (No. 589) for which he had paid 120 florins. Although it is not known how much the shell realized at auction, another cone shell, a C. cedonulli (No. 473, la plus belle & plus rare) that Lyonet thought to be unique, sold for 273 fl.

But the most prized shell (No. 62) was the Nautile Vitré, as it then was called by d'Argenville. Looking like a small glassine pixie cap, Carinaria cristata ("Glassy Nautilus") was, until the end of the eighteenth century, the rarest of all shells. Lyonet owned the earliest recorded specimen, which seems to have been one of only two examples. It sold for 299 fl., exceeding its weight in gold. (When again put at auction three decades later, it realized 575 fl., more than twice the sum paid for a C. gloriamaris from the same sale.) Indeed, such was the fame of Lyonet's cabinet that both the Cedonulli and Nautile Vitré were illustrated among the tres rares shells appended to the second edition of d'Argenville's Conchyliologie in 1757.

In writing of Lyonet's collection, Dance briefly comments on these shells and, in the next paragraph (p. 80), compares their prices to two paintings by Jan Steen, which sold for 50 guilders, and two by Franz Hals, which sold for approximately 1 and 10 guilders, respectively. He then remarks that Johannes Vermeer's Woman in Blue Reading a Letter (left) sold for 43 guilders.

(The successful bidder was Pieter Fouquet, a Dutch art dealer, who originally had sold the Woman in Blue to Lyonet almost twenty years earlier, having purchased it himself in 1772 for 40 fl. Reacquiring the painting a second time, Fouquet sold it in 1793 to a wealthy Amsterdam cloth merchant for 70 fl.)

Given that the primary source for Dance is in French (Van Seters) and the juxtaposition of the two paragraphs, the assumption has been that the shells and paintings sold at the same time. In fact, as the provenance of Woman in Blue indicates, the paintings had been auctioned by Lyonet's estate five years earlier, on April 11, 1791. Although the picture was not signed nor was Vermeer's surname even known, its attribution to the Delft painter is described in the sales catalog (No. 181). "In an inner room one sees a young lady dressed in a blue satin jacket standing at a table on which lie a small box, pearls, and papers; she seems to be reading a letter with much attention; on the white wall hangs a large map, filled in with other accessories; this piece is beautifully and naturally treated on canvas, by the Delft van der Meer, the pleasing light and dark lend it a fine appearance as is commonly characteristic of the works of this famous Master."

This conflation of the two auctions invariably occurs in the literature, most recently in a 2009 article in Smithsonian. A Christie's catalog (September 23, 2004) also has the Nautile Vitré and Woman in Blue selling at the same auction in 1791, the Vermeer realizing not 43 but 41 guilders. In spite of the earlier ambiguity, it is clear from a later book (1991) that Dance himself had made the same mistake.


In 1757, the collection of the French ambassador to the Netherlands was auctioned for 22,500 livres, the most expensive shell (a Root Murex, Hexaplex radix, Gmelin 1791) selling for 1,700 livres, as much as a painting by Van Dyck or Poussin. It was one of just seven shells for which a Mme Bandeville had paid 3,200 livres. Lyonet was sufficiently impressed with these prices that he considered selling his own cabinet of shells, certain that it would realize three times as much. But this was conchylomania at its most feverish.

Even as the French craze for shells began to wane, Lyonet hesitated to sell, as he would for the next thirty years, always in hope that he could fetch a better price. And when, in 1787, two years before his death, Lyonet finally did offer his shells to a Haarlem scientific society, his asking price still was too high. By then, political turmoil in Europe had increased. Louis XVI was guillotined in 1793 and the Dutch republic abolished by the French in 1795. The next year, a month before the posthumous auction of Lyonet's estate, Napoleon invaded Italy. As a result of such unrest, only a very few of the shells sold for more than Lyonet had paid for them, and the auction, itself, which also included his collection of insects, minerals, and objets d' art, realized only 6,726 fl., less than a tenth of what he had expected forty years before.


A hundred years earlier, in 1696, when the last voyage of discovery by the Dutch East India Company was taking place, there had been a remarkable sale of 21 Vermeer paintings inherited by the son-in-law of his most important patron. The catalog description allows many of them to be identified. At that auction, View of Delft sold for 200 fl.; The Milkmaid, 175 fl.; Woman Holding a Balance, 155 fl.; The Music Lesson, 80 fl.; The Concert, 73 fl.; and Woman Writing a Letter with Her Maid, 63 fl..

The Girl with a Turban (The Girl with a Pearl Earring), Vermeer's most iconic painting, sold at auction in 1881 for only 2 fl. (plus a 30% premium), the picture too damaged and dirty to have revealed the signature of the artist.



A Young Woman Seated at the Virginal
was the first Vermeer painting to come to market since 1921. In 2004, it sold at Sotheby's for almost £16.25 million ($30 million), more than five times its pre-sale estimate. This small canvas had been the last picture still in private hands but, after a decade of analysis, the attribution to Vermeer finally allowed it to go to auction. There now are thirty-six paintings attributed to the artist, who died when he was forty-three years old.

Given the notorious forgeries of Han van Meegeren (who managed to sell a fake Vermeer to Hermann Göring and confessed to the fraud at his trial after the war only to avoid an accusation of collaboration with the Nazis), it is perhaps understandable that the painting might have been suspect. Twenty years before, in 1927, Van Meegeren's The Lace Maker (detail right) had been declared "a genuine, perfect, and very characteristic work of Jan Vermeer of Delft" when presented for authentication to Wilhelm von Bode, the first curator of what is now the Bode Museum (Berlin), where the forgery first was exhibited.

It was not so much the imitation of Vermeer's style that convinced the experts but Van Meegeren's ability to capture what they themselves imagined that style to be. By appealing to their pre-existing notions of what a Vermeer should look like, the forgery simply confirmed that sensibility. And this may explain why The Lace Maker now looks so unprepossessing, in spite of its pointillés, the small bright dabs of paint looking like sequined points of light that are so characteristic of Vermeer.

Later that year, the painting was sold to Andrew Mellon, who also had purchased The Smiling Girl, another forgery by Meegeren (although it is possible that both were by his mentor Theo van Wijngaarden). It, too, had been pronounced by Bode as a "characteristic work" of Vermeer, and the figure in the portrait does look very similar to The Lace Maker—only smiling. At Mellon's death in 1937, both pictures were donated to the National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC), which he founded and where the pictures were exhibited. They now are in storage and not on view (to some consternation at the time, surprisingly).

 


One cannot feel too much sympathy for the defrauded Mellon, who had the Internal Revenue Service help in the preparation of his tax returns, and the Secretary of State secure a foreign contract. Not surprisingly, his personal wealth more than doubled during his tenure as Secretary of the Treasurer under President Calvin Coolidge. Both men had vigorously opposed the publication of individual tax information then being reported in the press and, in 1926, Congress prohibited such access, as well as repealing the gift tax. Mellon also had proposed a Board of Tax Appeals, which was established in 1924 as part of the same Revenue Act that had permitted the publication of personal tax filings. And in 1937, just after Mellon's death, the Board finally absolved him of tax fraud.



The Portland Vase (British Museum)

One of the last items to be sold at auction was a first-century BC Roman blue cameo glass vase (No. 4155), which the Duchess of Portland had purchased two years before from Sir William Hamilton. It realized £1,029, an extraordinary sum when one considers the cultural economics of the time.

(In 1845, the eponymous vase was shattered into more than two hundred pieces by a drunken visitor. Pieced back together that same year, it was restored in 1949 and then more meticulously forty years later.)

 
One of the largest and finest collections in England, if not in Europe, was that of the second Duchess of Portland. It later was described by Thomas Martyn, who illustrated one or two of her shells in The Universal Conchologist. "So rich a display in the number as well as rarity and perfection of these subjects, together with every other species of marine productions, perhaps is not to be equalled" (p. 10). But her purchase of shells and objets d'art was so extravagant that it had to be sold to meet the demands of her creditors. The auction began on April 24, 1786, nine months after her death, so long did it take to prepare the sales catalog.

It included shells brought back by Captain James Cook from his voyages to the Pacific, one of which was an "exceeding fine and large Cypræa Aurora, S. or the Orange Cowry, from the Friendly Isles. in the South-Seas, extremely scarce" (No. 3831) that realized £3.5s. This was on the thirty-fifth day of the auction, on June 2, 1786. That day in The Times of London (which had begun publication just the year before), there was an advertisement for a performance of Handel's Messiah at Westminster Abbey the following week. The price of admission was one guinea, a gold coin weighing approximately a quarter ounce that was the equivalent of £1.1s or twenty-one shillings. Seating at the opera that evening was half a guinea. Because the birthday of George III was being celebrated, there also were more popular amusements: plays and performances, musicals and displays of horsemanship that could be enjoyed from a box seat for 3s.—the price of Robert Burns' Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect which was published the following month.

Such London entertainment may seem inexpensive but, as Hume indicates, only about three percent of the English population in the eighteenth century had an annual income of more than £200, of which about £16 per year (27s. per month) could have been set aside for discretionary spending. An evening at the theater in Covent Garden or Drury Lane for a family of four, coach fare, and dinner at a tavern afterwards would have been the extent of their entertainment for the month. To purchase a novel in four volumes (as books often were published) required almost a full-day's pay. Few families, in other words, earning less than £200 per annum could afford to buy most of the books sold in England or attend the theater on a regular basis.

Hume uses a multiplier with a range of 200–300 to determine contemporary purchasing power, which he feels is less problematic than a simple conversion multiplier. For the period 1740–1792, he calculates 3s. (a box seat at the theater or a single book volume) to be the equivalent of £30£45 and a guinea seat at Westminster, £210£315. (A conversion multiplier calculates the relative value of a guinea in 1786 to be worth considerably less, approximately £115.)


In 1990, Vermeer's The Concert was stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, having been acquired almost a century earlier. Because her will stipulated that the exhibit remain on view exactly as she had arranged it, with no picture to be removed or replaced, the empty gilded frames still hang in silent reproach to the crime, a $10,000,000 reward unclaimed.

The American Museum of Natural History purchased a C. gloriamaris in 1922, when there were only two other specimens in the United States and about twelve in the world. An article at the time excitedly announced the acquisition and plans to exhibit the shell, which would be "the most highly prized of all the ones in the Museum." Accompanying it was a photograph of a slightly smaller Gloriamaris owned by Mrs. F. A. Constable, which she donated to the Museum in 1929. Almost thirty years later, in October 1950, the first shell (about four-and-a-half inches long, the size of the one pictured above) was stolen from its display case just outside the Hall of Ocean Life. A photograph and description were sent to the principal dealers, but neither it nor the painting has ever been recovered.

The theft is mentioned in the conchological literature (always but mistakenly as occurring in 1951). But there seems to be no primary account of the robberyat least not in the press clippings on file at the Museum or in The New York Times, which nevertheless related the theft of blowgun darts in 1954 (which were returned when the young thieves learned that they may have had poisoned tips) and, ten years later, the Star of India, the world's largest star sapphire (also recovered).


A study published by the National Academy of Sciences offers a fascinating computer simulation of how mollusks construct and pigment their shells. A network of nerve fibers in the mantle, the tongue-like protrusion that wraps around the leading edge of the shell, is connected with secretory cells that stimulate the deposit of calcium carbonate, proteins, and other organic material, including pigmented compounds that are the nitrogenous waste products of metabolism. Different rates of calcium carbonate secretion determine the shape of the spiraling shell and the rhythmic secretion of pigment, the pattern. What is intriguing is that this pattern, laid down at the edge of the growing shell, itself regulates the incremental layering of shell material, the mantle sensing the calcium carbonate layer deposited the previous day to create a new layer the next.

For example, when a pigment-secreting cell inhibits the secretion of pigment by surrounding cells and the same pattern is repeated, a stripe is displayed. Pigments secreted one day that are inhibited for a few days from further secretions result in an on-off pattern of bands parallel to the growing edge. And when pigment inhibits secretion at one site but excites it at another, the pigment is secreted laterally on successive days, which produces zigzags, chevrons, and other patterns.

As beautiful as these shell patterns are, they seemingly are irrelevant to the mollusk, which typically hides during the day under rocks or in the sand and hunts at night. Too, the shell may be obscured by a rough translucent periostracum (and the algae attached to it) and the pattern not visible even to a potential mate. Rather than display or camouflage, the deposit of pigment helps the mollusk build a shell of the right shape by getting its mantle in register, so to speak. The pattern of the growing shell, itself, is only an epiphenomenon, a secondary record of neurosecretory activity. And yet, it is no less beautiful for that. Unwhorled, the shell can be imagined to look like the traces of an electroencephalogram. But instead of a graphic record of human neural activity, it is the neurological record of the mollusk as recorded in the pattern of its pigmented calcium carbonate.

Equally varied are the venoms of cone shells. Each species has evolved a unique concoction of toxic proteins, which are delivered by a sharp harpoon-like tooth in the proboscis that darts out and spears the victim, paralyzing it. Because the mollusk cannot chase its prey or risk injury when a fish or marine worm is caught, these conotoxins have evolved to immobilize almost immediately. It is this specificity of these toxins that has made the study of cone snails so important in pharmacological research—and the patterns of their shells so desirable to collectors.


"A true practical philosopher, dear old Mussard lived without a care in the world in a very agreeable house he had had built for himself and in a very pretty garden he had planted with his own hands. While excavating under the terraces in this garden he had found some fossilized shells, and had found them in such quantities that his exalted imagination began to see shells everywhere in nature, and so that he came in the end to believe that the universe was made up of shells and the remains of shells and that the whole earth consisted of nothing but crushed shells. Wholly absorbed in this subject and in his singular discoveries, he became so excited by his ideas that they would in the end have combined themselves in his fevered brain into some system, which is to say some folly, if, very fortunately for his reason, but most unfortunately for his friends, to whom he was very dear and who found his house the most agreeable of sanctuaries, death had not snatched him from them through the strangest and most cruel of illnesses."

Rousseau, Confessions (II.8)

Rousseau, who completed the first six books of his Confessions in 1766–1767, uses the word conchyliomanie to describe his cousin's mad preoccupation with shells. The English equivalent "conchylomania" (or "concholomania") has not yet found its way into the revised Oxford English Dictionary, where the entry for "conchology" still derives from the first edition of 1891. There, the Elements of Conchology: or, An Introduction to the Knowledge of Shells (1776) by the British naturalist Emanuel Mendes da Costa is cited as the first use of "conchology" in English. The word seems to have appeared several years earlier, however, in Conchology, or Natural History of Shells (1771) purported to have been co-authored by da Costa. The French term conchyliologie had been introduced by d'Argenville in the first edition of his book on shells (1742) and defined in the second edition (1757).

This was at a time when mollusks were studied almost exclusively in reference to their shells, upon the external calcareous shell rather then the soft decomposable body that it protected. "Malacology" (malacologie in French, first used in 1814) is the branch of zoology that deals with the study of mollusks and, although the distinction between the two words can be muddled, conchology tends to refer in popular usage to a study of the shell, malacology to the snail that produces it.

The Oxford Latin Dictionary translates concha as "mollusk" or "shellfish"; so Plautus in his play Rudens ("The Rope") speaks of fishermen returning with conchas (line 297). Later, it is the shell from which Venus herself was said to have been born (line 704). More particularly, the word also denotes the murex and oyster, as well as the shell of the mollusk, mother-of-pearl, and pearls. Although sometimes translated as cockle or mussel (as in the Smithsonian article), Plautus, in describing the fishermen's catch, uses musculus to denote mussels (line 298).

Mollusks comprise the phylum Mollusca and are classified according to the characteristics of their shells. The word derives from the French mollusque (1783), "soft-bodied" (Latin mollis, "soft," as in "mollify") and denotes several classes of snails that are protected by their exoskeletons. Gastropoda such as Conus, for example, have a single (univalve) spiraling shell, bivalves such as oysters and mussels have two valves or shells, hinged together. "Mollusk" tends to be the American spelling of the word, "mollusc," the British.




 
 
When Jean Guillaume Bruguière published the first volume of his Encyclopédie méthodique, histoire naturelle des vers in 1792, he relates on the very last page that four examples of Cone gloire de la mer then were known to exist in Europe. This superbe coquille was in "les cabinets de M. Lyonet, Moltke, Calonne et Hwass" (p. 757). The shell belonging to Pierre Lyonet also was mentioned by d'Argenville in La Conchyliologie, where it is described as très-rare (p. 343). That belonging to Count von Moltke in Copenhagen was the shell auctioned in 1757, which he lent to Chemnitz, who described and illustrated it, giving the shell its scientific name twenty years later. D'Argenville also mentions this Gloria maris, remarking on its de sa beauté & de sa rareté (pp. 811-812). There is some confusion regarding the shell owned by Charles-Alexandre de Calonne, Controller General of Finance to Louis XVI, which may have come from the estate of the Duchess of Portland. The last specimen belonged to Christian Hwass, whose description of Conus was edited by Bruguière in the Encyclopédie méthodique (p. 601). (Hwass himself introduced 109 new species names for Conus, more than anyone else.)

In 1801, the Earl of Tankerville purchased Calonne's shell for £30 (now about £2,200). which became the most celebrated shell in his collection and beautifully illustrated, each tented line faithfully copied, when it was auctioned after his death in 1825. G. B. Sowerby, who was commissioned to manage the sale, states in the Catalogue that he had seen only one other example and that the one now for sale (No. 2463) "is by far the finer, both in respect of size and colour," as proven by "the faithful representation we have given of it" (pp. iv-v). It was purchased by William Broderip, whose own collection was acquired by the British Museum a dozen years later. It now is in the Natural History Museum (London).


Poppy's exclamation of despair over the loss of her Gloria maris quoted above, where she declares that there were only twelve examples in all the world, derives from an article in the Memoirs of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society (Vol. 10, pp. 76-90), that was published the same year as Dale's book (but reprints a paper read in 1885). There, J. Cosmo Melvill, having acquired an example of Gloriamaris himself, sought "to enumerate the whereabouts of the 11 or 12 specimens known to exist." His is the first attempt to make such a list, and he counts twelve examples altogether, including the two specimens found by Cuming, the Tankerville cone in the British Museum, a shell owned by a Mrs. de Burgh, another purported to be in the American Museum of Natural History, and one in the collection of the King of Portugal.


There does not seem to a collective noun for shells (what has been called a noun of multitude, such as an "exaltation of larks"). But, if there were, a "Caligula of shells" might be appropriate, given the anecdote related by Suetonius, who records the emperor's planned expedition against Britain in AD 40, which did not advance beyond the English Channel.

"Finally, as if he intended to bring the war to an end, he drew up a line of battle on the shore of the Ocean, arranging his ballistas and other artillery; and when no one knew or could imagine what he was going to do, he suddenly bade them gather shells and fill their helmets and the folds of their gowns, calling them 'spoils from the Ocean, due to the Capitol and Palatine'" (Life of Caligula, XLVI).


So expensive were exotic shells from the South Seas that they often were regarded as investments (which actually was the name of one such specimen) and celebrated in seventeenth-century Holland pronkstilleven (from the Middle Dutch pronken, "to show off"; from which the Middle English pranken derived and from it, "prank" and "prance"). These ostentatious or sumptuous still lifes of luxurious and precious objects included both tulips and shells, the attraction of one being its ephemerality, the other its immutability. There not only was the satisfaction of collecting these works of nature and the aesthetic appeal of their variety and beauty, but the status such rare objects bestowed upon the owner. Wealthy collectors identified with their collections, sought to preserve them and be known for them—and be remembered as a result.

The most famous painter of these pronkstillevens was Balthasar van der Ast, whose painting (top) is in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery), Dresden. Two of the shells, which are so common now, are the Tiger Cowrie (Cypraea tigris) and Marble Cone (Conus marmoreus), which Rembrandt etched in 1650, more than ten years later. Curiously, it was drawn as he observed it (and not reversed) so that, when the paper was pulled, the image did not reproduce correctly. The aperture appears on the left (as it would in a sinistral shell) instead of the right.


References: Shell Collecting: An Illustrated History (1966) by S. Peter Dance (the standard reference for the history of shell collecting); A History of Shell Collecting (1986) by Peter S. Dance (a revised edition of Shell Collecting: An Illustrated History); Rare Shells (1969) by S. Peter Dance; Classic Natural History Prints: Shells (1991) by S. Peter Dance and David Heppel; Tulipmania: Money, Honor, and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden Age (2007) by Anne Goldgar; A Prosperous Past: The Sumptuous Still Life in the Netherlands, 1600-1700 (1988) by Sam Segal [exhibition catalog]; "Mad about Shells" (August 2009) by Richard Conniff, Smithsonian Magazine, 40(5), 44-51; "The Case History of a Rare Shell: Conus Gloriamaris Chemnktz 1777" (September 1970) by E. R. Cross and Rutn Fair, Hawaiian Shell News, 18(9), 1, 3-8; "Conus Gloriamaris Find at Guadalcanal (September 1970) by Wally Gibbins, Hawaiian Shell News, 18(9), 7; "High Hopes to Fallen Dreams" (May 1971) by Alan Solem, Field Museum of Natural History: Bulletin 42(5); "Shell Sales. II" (1942) by J. R. le B. Tomlin, Journal of Molluscan Studies, 25(1), 25-33; "Type Specimens and Identity of the Described Species of Conus II. The Species Described by Solander, Chemnitz, Born, and Lightfoot Between 1766 and 1786" (1964) by Alan J. Kohn, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 45(304), 151-167; "The Neural Origins of Shell Structure and Pattern in Aquatic Mollusks" (2009) by Alistair Boettigera, Bard Ermentroutb, and George Ostera, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(16), 6837-6842; "The 'Glory of the Sea'" (1923) by Roy Waldo Miner, Natural History, 23(4), 325-328; "Diversity of Conus Neuropeptides" (1990) by B. M. Olivera et al., Science, 249(4966), 257-263; Vermeer of Delft: Complete Edition of the Paintings (1978) by Albert Blankert; The Man Who Made Vermeers (2008) by Jonathan Lopez; Pierre Lyonet, 1706-1789: Sa Vie, ses Collections de Coquillages et de Tableaux, ses Recherches Entomologiques (1962) by W. H. Van Seters; Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Confessions (2008) translated by Angela Scholar (Oxford World's Classics); Valerius Maximus: Memorable Doings and Sayings (2000) translated by D. R. Shackleton Bailey (Loeb Classical Library); Mellon: An American Life (2006) by David Cannadine; "Glory of the Sea: The Rarest and Most Coveted Prize in a Shell-Collector's Cabinet" (May 23, 1959) The Times (London); "...Shell Collection, Now Valued at $30,000, Given to Museum by Widow of Merchant" (July 16, 1930), New York Times; "Revised List of the Specimens of Conus Gloria-Maris Chemnitz in the Collections of the World" (1949) by W. S. S. van der Feen-Van Benthem Jutting, Bijdragen tot de Dierkunde, 28, 153-163; "Cylinder gloriamaris (Chemnitz, 1777), the Quintessential Rarity" (2012, October) by Diana Carvalho and António Monteiro, The Cone Collector, Issue 21, 14-19; The Glory of the Sea (1887) by Darley Dale (the pseudonym of Fanny Steele; about which Dance commented "The book is probably scarcer than the shell nowadays—and deservedly so"); "On the Type Specimen of Conus gloria maris" (1945) by Anton Fr. Bruun, Videnskabelige Meddelelser fra Dansk Natur-historisk Forening, 108, 95-101; The Duchess's Shells (2014) by Beth Fowkes Tobin; "The Value of Money in Eighteenth-Century England: Incomes, Prices, Buying Power—and Some Problems in Cultural Economics" (2015) by Robert D. Hume, Huntington Library Quarterly, 77(4), 373-416; "The Rarest and Most Coveted Prize in a Shell-Collector's Cabinet" (May 23, 1959), The Times (London), p. 8; "Le Naturaliste Hollandais Pierre Lyonet, Sa Vie et ses Œuvres (1706-1789)" (1910) by Emile Hublard, Mémoires et publications de la Société des sciences, des arts et des lettres du Hainaut, 61, 1-159; "Mobile Objects: The Space of Shells in Eighteenth-Century France" (2006) by Bettina Dietz, The British Journal for the History of Science, 39(3), 363-382; The Naturalist's Repository (1823) by E. Donovan; M. Bruguiere, Encyclopédie méthodique, histoire naturelle des vers (1792), "Cone gloire de la mer," Vol. I, pp. 756-757; Catalogue raisonné, du célèbre cabinet de coquilles de feu Pierre Lyonet (April 21, 1796); La conchyliologie, ou, histoire naturelle des coquilles de mer... (3rd ed.) (1780) by [Antoine-Joseph] Dézallier d'Argenville; A Catalogue of the Shells Contained in the Collection of the Late Earl of Tankerville (1825) by G. B. Sowerby; A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century Based on the Work of John Smith (1908-) translated and edited by Edward G. Hawke; A Catalogue of the Portland Museum, Lately the Property of the Duchess Dowager of Portland, Deceased (April 24, 1786); The Universal Conchologist (1789, second issue) by Thomas Martyn; Johannes Vermeer (1995) edited by Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., Exhibition Catalog, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; American Museum of Natural History, Research Library (April 11, 2019), personal communication.

The article in Smithsonian is one of very few to appear in the popular literature. The classic is "Shells Take You Over World Horizons" (July 1949) by Rutherford Platt, The National Geographic, 96(1), 33-84 (with 41 color pages), written at a time when the golden cowrie (Cypraea aurantium) was worn only by tribal chiefs and could not be exported from Fiji. Another important article is "The Magic Lure of Sea Shells" (March 1969) by Paul A. Zahl and Victor R. Boswell, The National Geographic Magazine, 135(3), 386-429.

 Return to Top of Page