Tag Archives: England

Moitessier and Paladilhe: collections

Prosper-Antoine Moitessier (1807-1867) is more famous for having been an organ builder. He wrote some papers relative to malacology and his collection was sold to the dealer Damon in 1867 (after Dance, 1966). Maybe a part of the Moitessier’s collection is housed into the collections of the Natural History Museum (NHMUK).
In 1880’s, Georges Coutagne was preparing his revision of the genus Moitessieria. He wrote to almost all malacologists having representatives of this genus in their collection, and tried to check all types. The localisation of “old” collections was therefore required.
Within this context, Coutagne wrote to Albert Moitessier (1833-1889), son of Prosper-Antoine. He was a medical doctor, and professor at the University of Montpellier. However, Albert Moitessier had sold the collection of his father, without remembering the name of the purchaser. He proposed to find the collections of some very close relations of his father in malacology as Dr. Paladilhe and Dubreuil.

“Montpellier, 3 février 1882
Monsieur, je regrette bien vivement de ne pouvoir vous venir en aide dans votre travail. La collection de mon père n’est plus en ma possession. Elle a été vendue, à l’époque de sa mort en Angleterre, et je n’en ai conservé, comme souvenir, que quelques coquilles sans intérêt scientifique. Les quelques espèces du genre Moitessieria, que j’aurais désiré conserver, n’ont pu m’être cédées, à aucune condition par l’acquéreur, qui paraissaient y tenir beaucoup.
Je puis cependant vous donner un renseignement, bien vague sans doute et probablement inutile, mais qui vous permettrait peut-être de retrouver quelques espèces de ce genre, mon père avait pour ami le docteur Paladilhe, amateur passionné et heureux dans la recherche des petites espèces. Mr Paladilhe est mort en laissant une collection fort intéressante. J’ignore ce qu’est devenue cette collection car la famille a quitté Montpellier. Je ne pense pas toutefois que cette collection ait été détruite car elle ne renfermait rien de séduisant pour les yeux incompétents. Il me serait peut-être possible d’en retrouver la trace et je me mets à votre disposition pour rechercher ce qu’elle est devenue. J’ignore toutefois si elle renfermait la M. gervaisiana.
Peut-être, aussi, pourriez-vous avoir quelques indications auprès de Mr. Dubrueil de Montpellier, qui avait des relations avec Paladilhe. Mr Dubrueil possède une intéressante collection de mollusques terrestres et fluviatiles de France. Il ne serait pas impossible qu’il ait recueilli quelques espèces de la succession Paladilhe.
Agréez, je vous prie, l’expression de les sentiments distingués.
A. Moitessier”

002

001 [1]

The collection of Paladilhe is housed in University of Montpellier.

Source:
[1] Musée des Confluences, Centre de conservation et d’étude des collections, Lyon

Reference
Dance SP. 1966. Shell collecting. An illustrated history. Los Angeles/Berkely: University of California Press, 345 pp.

 

 

 

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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.:

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(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.”

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

[1] Source: Audibert, private collection

 

 

 

Tales from a shell cabinet

In the latest SHNH Newsletter the following note was published, which not only gives an amusing and interesting little story, but also reveals the existence of a British conchologist not yet listed in Coan & Kabat (2016): Samuel Smith (1802–1892).

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Reference:
Nelson EC. 2016. Tales from a shell cabinet. An old lady’s house burgled. Society for the History of Natural History, Newsletter 110: 17–19.

Shells dealers

From the middle of 19th century, a strongly development of shell trade is observed, in particular, the retail sale and the sale by mail order (see also Dance, 1966, 1969).

Hermann Rolle (1864–1929) was a famous German dealer in Berlin specialised in ornithology and conchology. He acquired several important collections and stocks of material (e.g. Möllendorf). His store was immense, especially for palaearctic shells. We have a copy of his catalogue which has to be dated ca. 1894 [1]. The prices are given in Deutsche mark, but foreign customers found the exchange rates directly on the cover.

Sowerby & Fulton is another well-known house for shells, based in London. The mail order catalogue is written like a scientific publication, including a systematic order following the last classification (Pilsbry and Tryon’s Manual of Conchology; Sykes (1900) for Achatinellidae; Kobelt & Möllendorf (1890), etc.), with genera, subgenera and sections, authors for species and synonyms for genera, e.g.Chondrella 1871 = Diadema 1868 non Schaum 1817 = Garrettia 1874)”. Sowerby & Fulton wanted to be always up-to-date with a serious proposal and precise identifications.

Each booklet provides an index of generic names. The copy we have is dated between 1902 to 1906 [2] and it includes six booklets:
Inoperculate land shells (April 1902)
Cephalopoda, Pteropoda, Gastropoda (marine and freshwater) and Scaphopoda (April 1903)
Pelecypoda and Brachiopoda (June 1903)
Operculate land shells (1906)
For these five booklets, the prices are not given: specimens are sent on approval.
Recent shells (August 1902) is a compendium with a wide selection (almost 900 genera); the prices are given in shillings, with francs and mark equivalent.

Compared to Rolle’s catalogue, the scope is entirely on the worldwide malacofauna. The number of species is very substantial. Both catalogues were adressed to French, English and German collectors (the introduction in Rolle’s catalogue is even provided in three languages); many conchologists purchased specimens from these two shell suppliers and material of Rolle and Sowerby & Fulton can be found in most European museums.

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Rolle Sowerby & Fulton

Reference:
Dance SP. 1969. Rare shells. Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 128 p.

[1, 2] Source: Audibert, private library

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.

References:
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.

Notes:
[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.

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]

References:
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.

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