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  It only takes a happy find on the beach in childhood - to get you hooked. Seashells are irresistible, inspiring and fascinating natural objects and collectibles. There is also a scientific side to collecting Seashells, which ties in with Marine Biology... and that is where it gets really interesting!  

What are Specimen Seashells? 

Seashells are classed as Natural History objects and collectibles (along with i.e. fossils or minerals). According to finds in archaeological digs, people have always enjoyed collecting them. Today there are shell clubs, annual shows and exhibitions for shell collectors in many countries around the world.

Along with displaying beautiful ornamental seashells, you can also decide to collect for scientific value and start doing your own research. The study of Seashells is called Conchology (a branch of Malacology, the study of molluscs), which in turn is a part of the Invertebrates research in Marine Biology.

To be of scientific interest, all seashells require data - this is why Specimen Seashells always have a label with recorded origin information. They are usually graded (for condition) and carefully packaged individually to ensure the data stays with each specimen (see more on scientific data labels below). 

Many collectors of Specimen Shells are very knowledgeable and it's not unusual to find hobby shell collectors among the acknowledged world expert malacologists in their chosen field of study.



Seashell Books: 

There are fabulous books about shells, showing them in all their beauty and variety. However, most seashells books are actually produced as reference guides. If you have a large collection of shells, you will naturally want to find out more about them - it's a fascinating subject and there is lots to discover.

Books are essential if you want to delve into scientific collecting. Specimen Shells are often listed only by their scientific (Latin) species name (i. e. on our pricelists), so how will you know what the shell looks like?

The internet is a great help here and you can easily find out what a particular species looks like by googling the Latin name for images. However, that is time-consuming and you'll do a lot of typing and spell-checking..

Besides, using the net for an overview of any family or species is difficult. Nothing replaces a good reference book when it comes to offering a broad range of options, find an ID quickly or compare your shell against images to see where exactly it might fit in the range of existing subspecies or colour forms.

In short - the right Seashell Book will save you a lot of time.


Most collectors will actually use several books. Depending on what they collect (i.e. Cowries), they will usually have at least one General Shell Book (i.e. the Encyclopedia Of Gastropods) and a book (or several) just on Cowries / Cypraeidae, which help them to identify the range of subspecies and varieties, so they can track those they are still missing online. Once you can find the correct scientific name in the book, it's easy to find more details about any species (or its forms and varieties) on the internet.



Scientific Seashell Data (Labels): 

NAME: A scientific name typically includes: Genus and species name, the Author (person who named and described it) and the publication year. Additional information usually includes the local variant / form name or subspecies designation.

LOCALITY: Country or region of origin and any known details on habitat and depth. Locality info typically depends on the source: For example, we frequently scuba-dive remote areas and can often supply shells we have found with very detailed data, incl. GPS info (i.e. to 100m radius). We also obtain shells from old collections (where shells may have less info). Trawled shells may carry even less data, depending on which boat they came from and how accurately fishing logs were kept.

SIZE: Specimen size in millimetres, which always represents the largest measurable distance between the two outermost points of a specimen (except spiny Bivalves and Spondylidae, where the shell body is measured without spines).

DESCRIPTION: Mentions typical features, condition, shape, colour, pattern, presentation and/or major differences to other forms of the same species.

OPERC / PERIO: Some species have doors (Nerites, etc.), so we may include info on presence / absence of the operculum (shell door) or periostracum (soft surface coating).

REFS / IMAGES: References to previously published information or images: Data labels may include refs to a particular publication (i.e. Image in a shell book).



What is Grading?

GRADING: Notes the condition of a specimen shell by a commonly accepted set of Intl. GRADING terms.

SPECIMEN SEASHELL GRADING (Shells are viewed under good lighting with the naked eye)


Shells are without any discernible blemish or flaw. The specimen will be fully adult and of typical size for species.


Shells that have a very minor flaw or blemish which is hard to perceive, shows up only under close scrutiny and in no way detracts from the look of the shell.


Shells have a noticeable flaw or blemish which does not detract from the look of the specimen.


Shells have more than one noticeable flaw, growth line or blemish consistent with the species, but the overall presentation is very good. These shells are generally excellent value and suitable for aesthetically pleasing collections, being considerably less expensive than GEM specimens.


Shells with small chips, noticeable growth lines, nacre lifts, blemishes or other obvious flaws, where the overall appearance and presentation of the shell is obviously not perfect. NOTE: Several large sized or rare species are only available in F+ condition or less.


Shells with major chips, growth lines, nacre lifts, blemishes or other obvious flaws. Very fresh dead collected but otherwise good specimens are also often classed as F/F+. 
NOTE: Some shell species are only available in F/F+ condition or less.


Shells that are either badly damaged, obviously juvenile or dead, but suitable as a representative of the species or for study purposes. 
NOTE: Some shell species are only available in F or dead condition.

No Grading system can possibly do justice to every specimen and most Specimen Shells will require further description. Since seashells are difficult to photograph well (image may not clearly show flaws or can be tampered with), the above Intl. Grading terms are widely accepted for seashell descriptions.


Our Money-Back-Guarantee:

Grading and Photographing seashells well is not easy. As Specimen Seashells are by definition highly individual objects, there is still no better way to evaluate them than holding a shell in your hand and looking at it. So we are offering you a ‘Money Back Guarantee' for all our Specimen Seashell items, which means that you can return any of them for a refund (or online shop credit if you prefer this) to the full value of the item(s) returned, excluding shipping cost.

In short, if you do not like the shells we have selected for any reason, you can send them back for a full refund or exchange if you wish.


Not what you are looking for?

See also non-graded Seashells and Starfish for Decoration.