Category Archives: Correspondence

Season’s Greetings

Since I became so interested in networks between malacologists in the past, my Season’s Greetings for this year are devoted to this topic. Here you find the original of this card, with further context. But below is the explanation given for those who want to know if they know all these malacologists.

kn2016explanationAnd above (inverted in gray) is the answer on the question “Who is the man whose son can be seen here twice?”…

Moricand: a letter in a book

A large collection of reprints and separata are owned by the library of the Centre de conservation et d’étude des collections in Lyon. Reading a binded volume of miscellanea of Stefano Moricand (1779-1854), we found inside a letter written by Moricand addressed to Ange-Paulin Terver (1798-1875). The handwritting style is quite similar to his correspondant, with a minute handwritting and thick downstrokes.

The letter is dated on 21 May, 1836, and reads as follows.

“Monsieur, j’ai reçu dans le temps l’ouvrage de Mr. Michaud que vous avez bien voulu m’envoyer ; qui m’a fait grand plaisir. Ayant inutilement cherché et attendu une occasion pour vous faire passer mes petits mémoires & craignant que mon silence en se prolongeant se pût être mal interprété, je me décide à vous les envoyer par la messagerie, ils vous serviront de catalogue pour vos desiderata, car je ne crois pas avoir conservé de note de ce que je vous ai envoyé. Quand vous recevrez vos coquilles d’Alger je me recommande à votre bon souvenir; je vous prie d’agréer l’assurance de mon (ill.) dévouement. Stefano Morricand” [signed with double r].



The interpretation of this letter sheds a new light on the activities of Terver. As collaborator of Michaud, he drew the lithographs for the Supplement to Draparnaud (Michaud 1831); this was likely the book sent to Moricand. Terver was apparently preparing his study of the Algerian fauna (which was published in 1839). From the letter is becomes obvious that Moricand and Terver exchanged not only books but also shells. And finally, we learn that the catalogues of Moricand (1834, 1836) were likely to be used to mark the oblata!

[1] Source: CCEC.

Michaud G. 1831. Complément de l’Histoire naturelle des Mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles de la France, de J. P. R. Draparnaud. Paris / Montpellier, 1–128, pl. XIV-XVI.
Moricand S. 1834. Note sur quelques espèces nouvelles de coquilles terrestres. Mémoires de la Société de Physique et d’Histoire naturelle de Genève 6: 537-543, pl. I.
Moricand S. 1836. Mémoire sur les coquilles terrestres et fluviatiles envoyées de Bahia par M. S. Blanchet. Mémoires de la Société de Physique et d’Histoire naturelle de Genève 7 (2): 415-446, pl. II.
Terver A-P. 1839. Catalogue des Mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles observés dans les possessions françaises au nord de l’Afrique. Paris / Lyon: J.-B. Baillière, Crochard & Savy, 1–39, 4 pl.

An unknown women shell collector

There are probably a lot more people who could be added to the list of 2400 years malacology (Coan & Kabat, 2016). E.g., we found a letter and a postcard, sent in 1880s, from a British women named Fanny Maria Hele. She was interested in mineralogy and land and marine conchology, and there is evidence that she tried to enlarge her collection by exchange and purchase of shells. She lived in Fairlight, Elmgrove Road, Bristol, England. Her name regularly appears in the Hardwicke’s Science-Gossip journal, at the section “Exchanges”. E.g.:

Capture d’écran 2016-08-30 à 00.20.39

(1875: 168)

Capture d’écran 2016-08-30 à 00.17.49 (1875: 283)

The letter is dated on July 14, 1882 and is written in a bad French, probably to the Italian malacologist Del Prete. In the letter both a mineral and land shells are mentioned:

Numériser 2

Numériser 1

“Cher Monsieur,

Je suis très obligé pour votre lettre. Quand la Posse Parcelle est etablie dans Angleterre j’envoyerai vous une bonne boîte de coquilles. Je vous envoye cette pour la lettre Anglais. Je recevre de Londres disant que cette Posse Parcelle sera pour toute la continent aussi de notre pays.

Il n’est pas encore etablée. Il sera dans deux ou trois mois temps. Je serai alors capable d’envoyerent six livres (Lei il peso d’una libra) pour environ deux francs a la continent.

J’ai grand adminration pour votre Clausilia et belle grand Helix. La mineral je desire est la precieux (berillo gemma). Avec mes bonnes egards et mes dévoués.

Je suis, Cher Monsieur, vous (ill.) Fanny Maria Hele”.


The postcard is dated on 16 June, 1887. It was addressed to Raimondo del Prete, in Viareggio, Italy:

Numériser 4

Numériser 3

“Bristol June 16-87

J’oublie dire deux Isocardia cors ils étaient rompre en plusieurs morceaux. La Volute Angulata est très belle. Avez vous une seconde en doublon (donnez moi – J’envoyais votre desiderata (et 36 plus). Hier au soir – Plusieurs très rare species. Avez vous votre (Mediterranean Sea) (Mers) Cardium Intercostatum dans doubles avec bonnes Egards. Je suis votre (ill.) F. M. Hele.”

Dance S. Peter 2013. Fanny M. Hele and the var. exalbida. Mollusc World, 12: 18 (portr.) [here]

[1] Source: Audibert, private collection




The fate of the Morelet collection

When Arthur Morelet died in August 1892 he left a considerable collection of shells (but due to lack of an inventory we do not know the precise size of the collection). His two daughters soon decided to sell it and in the Crosse archive we found two letters that allow for a partial reconstruction [1].

Schermafbeelding 2016-08-04 om 21.42.44Schermafbeelding 2016-08-04 om 21.43.13

The first letter, dated 31 October 1892 by his daughter Marie Huguette Aurélie [2], also on behalf of her sister, was written with misspellings (“Nous sommes bien embarassées ma soeur et moi, pour la vente de la conchyliologie de mon pauvre père et vraiment j’ai recours à vous comme à un ami. Que nous conseillez-vous de faire et dans quels journaux faut-il faire des annonces. / M. Ponsonby m’écrit que M. Sowerby de Londres achèterait la collection en bloc. / Peut-on s’en rapporter à ce Monsieur, que vous devez connaître je pense. / enfin, Monsieur, comment devons-nous nous y prendre pour faire connaître aux Etats-Unis la vente de la collection ?”). It may be summarised as follows: the two ladies wanted advice from Crosse about the sale of the collection and asked him if Sowerby (who was prepared to buy everything) was a good choice and if there was a possibility to find someone in the U.S.A. who would be interested in the collection.

Schermafbeelding 2016-08-04 om 21.41.40

The second letter was written by Emile Striffling, notary at Dijon, on 24 November 1892 and made clear that the collection had been sold to the shell dealer Hugh Fulton but that he had asked for type material still in the possession of Crosse (“la collection de coquilles a été vendue à Monsieur Fulton de Londres. Celui-ci s’entendra avec vous pour la reunion des types qui sont entre vos mains mais il me demande la nomenclature de vos types. Voulez-vous avoir l’obligance de me l’adresser pour Dimanche, M. Fulton devant venir à Velars ce jour là?”).

Fulton must have been very quick to offer parts of the collection to his clients, because already a few months later (4 February 1893) the British Museum (now NHMUK) started the registration of many lots from Morelet’s collection. Other parts have ended up in the MHNG (Breure, 2016), MNHN (likely via de former collection of the Journal de Conchyliologie), and NMW in Europe, and MCZ and ANSP in the U.S.A. Pilsbry (1893) reported that the ANSP had obtained “over 250 species of land and fresh-water shells, mainly of Africa, India and South America. As they are all new to the collection, and accompanied by reliable data, the great value of the series will be apparent. The additions to our collection of Helices are especially notable, many rare and long needed species being secured”. Another part of Morelet’s collection came to the same museum via the collection of Andrew D. Brown (who died in 1887), with whom Morelet apparently had been in exchange.

Although Sowerby and Fulton may have been competitors in this case, they soon joined forces and established their firm Sowerby & Fulton in 1897. It cannot be excluded a priori that some errant lots from the Morelet collection were dispersed under this label after that date.

Breure ASH. 2016. Annotated type catalogue of the Orthalicoidea (Mollusca, Gastropoda, Stylommatophora) in the Muséum d’histoire naturelle, Geneva. Revue suisse de Zoologie 123: 57–103.
Pilsbry HA. 1893. Report of the Conservator of the Conchological Section. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia 45: 563–565.

[1] The Crosse archive is in the private possession of W. Backhuys.
[2] She was the eldest daughter of Morelet; the letter was written on paper with black margins, typically used by people who recently lost a relative.

Malacology during the First World War

We provide two postcards [1] written from malacologists at the beginning of the First World War in 1914, between France and Italy.

In the first one, Philéas Rousseau (1860–1935), a French malacologist who was interested in botany and zoology (he published two catalogues dealing with molluscs and vascular plants of the island of Ré, near La Rochelle), wrote to Raimondo del Prete (1850–1937), an Italian malacologist. This letter is dated August 27, 1914, just one month after the beginning of the war. He expressed concern about a parcel with shells sent to him one month ago (thus just some days before France entered the war!) and asked him to stop the shipments until a return to calm: “Veuillez donc je vous prie, me donner des nouvelles du colis postal de Coquilles que je vous ai adressé il y a un mois. Vous devez comprendre mon inquiétude à ce sujet en raison de la tourmente que nous traversons. Vouloir bien attendre des temps plus tranquilles pour m’expédier le vôtre ; ça ne presse pas“.

The second postcard is written by Commandant Eugène Caziot (1844–1931) from Alpes-Maritimes (France) and adressed to Francesco Settepassi (1889–1982), a young Italian malacologist, living in Viareggio as R. del Prete. The card is dated November 1, 1914, two months after the letter of Ph. Rousseau to del Prete and the declaration of war with France (August 3, 1914). Unlike Ph. Rousseau, Caziot is less cautious with sendings and continue his activity in an ever more troubled world. However, in this postcard, Caziot is worried about his last sending (probably a parcel of shells) and a consecutive letter, both remained without response: “Je vous ai fait connaître que je vous faisais un envoi ; je vous ai adressé une carte 15 jours après. Je n’ai pas reçu ni avis ni réponse. Vous seriez aimable de me sortir d’inquiétude“.

Vimpère J., 2015. Découverte d’un inventaire manuscrit des Mollusques de la Vendée rédigé par Edmond Bocquier (1881-1948). Folia conchyliologica, 31: 3-13 [Notice on Ph. Rousseau, portr., p. 9]

[1] Source: Audibert, private collection

Linter, an English lady-conchologist

Miss Jane (full names: Juliana Emma) Linter was born in Teighmouth, Devonshire, on 19 July 1844 as the fourth child of William Brine Linter and Caroline Mary Nicholls. Both her father and grandfather were musicians. At an early age she went to London for study and was a regular reader at the British Museum. She lived for many years in Twickenham near London, and remained unmarried. She began her collection of shells around 1880 and according to Tomlin (1949) the basis was formed by parts of the collection of William Theobald (1829-1908), and the collection of Colonel Skinner. Her favourite group was the Helicoidea of which she had many unique specimens in her collection, among which material collected by Wollaston on the Madeira group. According to Tomlin (1949) she “was to all intents and purposes a dealer (…) and exchanged largely”. However, it is unclear on what evidence Tomlin based his qualification as a dealer as this would imply the distribution of stock lists. To the contrary, we found only evidence that she exchanged shells (see below). She died on 30 August 1909 in her home in Twickenham (Smith, 1910). Her collection was bequeathed to the RAMM in Exeter, U.K.

The following eponyms have been described: Achatina linterae Sowerby III, 1890 and Bulimus fulminans var. linterae Sowerby III, 1890; Ophistoma linterae Sowerby III, 1896. Further: Plectopylis linterae Möllendorff, 1897 and Papuina linterae Möllendorff, 1897; Buliminus (Napaeus) linterae Kobelt, 1899, and finally, Chloritis linterae Gude, 1905.

We already came across this lady-conchologist when studying the Dautzenberg archive (Breure, 2015), with whom she exchanged shells. But in the Crosse archive I also found evidence that Miss Linter was willing to exchange shells, in this case not for other shells but as a payment in natura for the Journal de Conchyliologie, as this postcard from 10 November 1897 shows.

Linter97 [1]

Breure ASH. 2015. The malacological handwritings in the autograph collection of the Ph. Dautzenberg archives, Brussels. Folia Conchyliologica 33: 1–111.
Smith EA. 1910. Obituary notice. Proceedings of the Malacological Society of London 9: 89.
Tomlin JR le B. 1949. Shell sales, VI. Proceedings of the Malacological Society of London 27: 254–256.

[1] Crosse archive, with thanks to W. Backhuys.

Two letters about the bequest of the collection Gaudion

Commandant Gaudion (1828–1902) was a patron for the Muséum d’histoire naturelle de Marseille. He brought together an important zoological collections from the Mediterannean area, therefore his name was inscribed on the marble plate of donators. Both his collection and books (Gaudion did not live in the city but in Béziers, and he needed an extensive library was required to determine what he collected) were given to the Museum of Marseille, for a total value of 10,000 French francs (in 1915).

Here shown are two letters [1] dated July 20, 1911 and November 30, 1911 concerning the bequest of the conchological collection of Gaudion.

Numériser 3

These letters were written by Vayssière, director of the Museum d’Histoire naturelle de Marseille to Mrs Gaudion about the legacy of her husband. From the letters it becomes clear that the collection (in 1911, nine years after the death of Gaudion) was almost completly arranged by Martial Couturier; he was another French conchologist and assistant-curator at the Muséum of Marseille. Vayssière proposed to return to Gaudion’s widow, a box with duplicates from his collection, which was not required by the Museum. The second letter in November specifically dealt with the adminitrative problem to extract from the legacy the series of duplicates which remained in Béziers. The words “installation de la salle Gaudion” (in Béziers) could refer to a project to create a litte room with Gaudion’s specimens, maybe at the Société d’étude des sciences naturelles de Béziers, which became Musée du Biterrois.

Fischer H. 1903. [Nécrologie]. H. Gaudion. Journal de Conchyliologie 51: 91–92.
Vayssière A. 1903. Notice biographique sur Henri Gaudion (1828-1902). Annales du Muséum d’Histoire naturelle de Marseille 8: 16–13, 1 pl. (portrait).
Vayssière A. 1915. Rapport sur la section de zoologie du Muséum. Annales du Muséum d’Histoire naturelle de Marseille 15: 3–7.

[1] Audibert C., private collection.