Tag Archives: Germany

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.


Rolle Sowerby & Fulton

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

[1, 2] Source: Audibert, private library

An annotated copy of Geyer (1909)’s book

David Geyer (1855-1932) is a famous German malacologist. His book entitled Unsere Land- und Süsswasser-Mollusken, and published in 1909, is useful still today, with magnificent plates.

In my copy [1], the plates are hand labelled with typical old german handwritting.

Numériser 16

In addition, a sample of a manuscript written in Kurrent (Deutsche Kurrentschrift), used in Germany until beginning of the 20th century, is stucked on the last page of the book by a precedent owner, maybe Forbes (see the signature) with this comment: “Manuscript Prof. Karschs – geplante Vorarbeit für eine analytische Tabelarisirung”.

We don’t have any information about this Prof. Karsch. We welcome your comments!

Geyer D., 1909. Unsere Land- und Süsswasser-Mollusken. Einführung in die Molluskenfauna Deutschlands. Stuttgart: K. G. Lutz’ Verlag : 155 p., 18 pl.

[1] Audibert C., private library.