Sorting Shells

May 22-24 Every afternoon

Tuesday I had to go to work in the morning but we started a project I’ve been excited to work with that afternoon. SHELLS!!! Once upon a time my grandmother and granddad lived in Hawaii and would bring us the occasional shell. I don’t know when my mother started collecting but I do remember my older sister’s science project shell collection and taking the time to identify all of those shells. I fell in love. My mom’s collection continued to grow and I wanted some of my own so I started to collect as did Melinda. Then Mom would add to my collections and to Melinda’s. Eventually all three of us had great collections. Then the bad news. Shells actually flake off a barbed dust that is quite hazardous. (insert sounds of doom) Melinda sent her shell collection to Nanette where it was displayed in jars. Mine languished in boxes since I don’t have a way to display them, excepting the amazing ones that I kept in a lovely glass cabinet (called the Shell Cabinet) that came from my beloved grandmother.

Books & Shells on the dining room table

Bags of shells on the sofa and end table IMG_0933

Well a year or so ago my mom and Melinda shipped me ALL of the shells from their collections. Nanette had changed her decor so those came too. I think there were a couple of exceptions, but I received about 6 big boxes of shells. When you add those to the 4 I already had it was overwhelming.  Thank you John & Bill for carrying all of the boxes up to the living room for processing. And thank you all for helping put them away.

Welks in a tray (thank heavens I have quite a number of these trays) on a box full of other shells

And still more shells in trays and bags IMG_0935

So the goal was to at least get them all sorted out into Families if not Genus and Species. Get them packaged into zip lock bags and into sturdier bins. This was a massive undertaking. I will append the inventory lists (not including quantities) to this post. I don’t know what I’d have done without Melinda. We went nuts. Sorting first into family then labeling, identifying, and working with all of these shells. We did not get to the bivalves (clams, scallops etc) but almost everything else was officially sorted. 212 species into 7 boxes. Boxes: 3 large flattish, 2 medium and 2 small all of which fit onto the shelves in my craft closet.

We even used box lids to sort. This one is full of different kinds of sand dollars

The shell cabinet before the big sort. I had to remove the brass and glass objects IMG_0937

I am grateful to Melinda and her persistence. I am also grateful to my book dragon tendencies. I have been collecting shell identification books for many years so have a lovely stack of them which helped a lot, as did the internet and my iPad. Some shells were elusive enough that we finally set some aside to deal with on another pass.

I had a ton of these labels so thought I might as well use them on this project. And yes we did include the Latin names for all of the shells.

The next step is to weed down the numbers of shells. For instance I think I have 20-30 West Indian Conches (both Fighting and Crown). But that project is for another day. Right now I’m just happy to have the exotic and amazing in the shell cabinet on display and all the rest mostly identified and safely boxed.

The reward for all of this shell madness? Italian food for dinner, I made a huge pan of lasagna and served it with salad and garlic bread to friends & family.   — Jenny

This beautiful shell had turned gray with dust. I gave it a bath and it’s a gorgeous off white again. IMG_0944


The Inventory:

Box 1
1 Ramose murex
2 Pink mouthed murex
3 Regal murex
4 Virgin murex
5 Cabbage murex
6 Apple murex
7 Adjustable murex
8 Festive murex
9 Endive murex
10 Radish. Murex

Frogs and tritons
11 Common frog shell
12 Pause frog
13 Brown frog
14 Red mouthed frog
15 Frilled frog
16 Big triton
17 Perrys triton
18 Pear triton
19 Broad banded triton
20 Common hairytriton
21 Maple leaf triton
22 Common distosios
23 Reticulate distorsios

24 Caribbean vases
25 Pacific top vase

26 Spiral moons
27 Bladder moons
28 Golden moon
29 Lined moon
30 Calf moons

31 Great Australian baler
32 Crowned baler

33 Vibes bonnet
34 Gray bonnet
35 Cherboard bonnet
36 Scotch bonnet
37 Iredales bonnet

38 Gold mouthed tun
39 Spotted tun

40 Major harp
41 Minor harp

42 Worm shell (2)
43 Cats eyes operculum (2)
44 Sea bean (1)

45 Modest sundial
46 Partridge sundial
47 Grand sundial

48 Prickly drupe
49 Grape drupe
50 Purple drupe

51 Spotted nautical
52 Channeled nassa

Box 2
53 Queen conch
54 Melongena
55 West Indian fighting conch
56 West Indian crown conch
57 Aurora conch
58 Silver conch
59 Florida fighting conch
60 Pacific crown conch
61 Queen conch roller
62 Trapezium horse conch
63 Blood mouthed conch
64 Milk conch
65 Dog conch
66 Hawk wing conch
67 Listers conch
68 Lancinate conch
69 Little frog conch
70 Diana conch
71 Marginate conch
72 Rooster tail conch
73 Humped conch
74 Little bear. Conch
75 Yellow spider conch
76 Common spider conch
77 Great spider conch
78 Millipede spider conch
79 Chiragra spider conch

Box 3
80 Lightning whelk or left handed
81 Knobbed whelk
82 Channeled whelk
83 Pear whelk

84 Areolate Babylon
85 Spiral Babylon
86 Indian Babylon

87 Commercial top
88 Strawberry top
89 Tall top
90 Radiate top
91 Mottled top

92 Silver mouthed turban
93 Heavy turbans
94 Gold mouthed turban
95 Tapestry turban
96 Bubble turnip
97 Black turban snail
98 Cantaloupe turnip

Turitella/Screw Shells/Augers
99 Strong ribbed Turitella
100 Common shell screw
101 Brown turitella
102 Telescope shell
103 Marlinspike auger
104 Episcopal miter
105 Common creeper
106 Dimidiate auger
107 Rugose miter
108 India tibia
109 Shinbone tibia

110 Ornamented spindle
111 Dupetit’s spindle
112 Wavy edge spindle

113 Atlantic fig
114 Variable fig

115 True tulip
116 Banded tulip

Land Snails
117 Hawaiian tree snail
118 Giant African tree snail
119 Philippine land snail
120 Striped cherry land snail

121 Princely volute
122 Bat volute

123 Tyria delphinula (dolphin shell)
124 Opinion limpet
125 Open dye shell
126 Channeled nassa
127 Common periwinkle
128 Crowned prickly winkle
129 Triumphant star
130 Cummings cerith

131 Ass’s ears abalone
132 Black abalone
133 Corrugated abalone

134 Gold mouthed olive
135 Purple mouthed olive
136 Textile olive
137 Blood olive
138 Tree colored olive
139 Gibbose olives
140 Little black olive
141 Tesselate olive
142 Olds olive
143 Widow olive
144 Ornate olive

Box 4
145 Leopard cone
146 Lettered cone
147 Bough cone
148 Oak cone
149 Virgin cone
150 Fig cone
151 Hebrew cone
152 Wood cone
153 Fleabite cone
154 Abbreviated cone
155 Weasel cone
156 Livid cone
157 Striated cone
158 Textile cone
159 Captain cone
160 General cone
161 Australia cone
162 Soldier cone
163 Obese cone
164 Imperial cone
165 Cat cone
166 Nicobarese cone
167 Knobby top cone
168 Ivory cone
169 Magical cone
170 Geography cone
171 Flag cone
172 Golden yellow cone
173 Prefect cone
174 Rayed cone
175 Tesselate cone
176 Circumcision cone
177 Rat cone

Box 5
178 Turtle cowrie
179 Tiger cowries
180 Teulere’s cowrie
181 Map cowrie
182 Common egg cowrie
183 Arabian cowries
184 Snakes head cowrie
185 Thick edged cowrie
186 Annette’s cowrie
187 Golden cowrie
188 Miliaris cowrie
189 Chestnut cowri e
190 Money cowrie
191 Boivin’s cowrie
192 Gold ringed cow rid
193 Pacific dee r cowrie
194 Carnelian cowrie
195 Zigzag cowrie
196 Isabellas cowrie
197 Ocelate cowrie
198 Eglantina cowrie
199 Eroded cowrie
200 Four. Spotted cowrie
201 Nucleus cowrie
202 Honey cowrie
203 Depressed cowrie
204 Cypraea lutea cowrie
205 Banded cowrie
206 Fingerprint cyphoma
207 Humpback cowrie

208 Sand dollars
209 Sea stars. Starfish
210 Barnacles (3)
211 Sea horses (3)
212 Radians trivia

Box 6
213 Bivalves (needs collation & identification)

Box 7
214 Beach shells
215 Corals
216 To be identified shells

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