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Cabinets for Shells.
He furnishes her closet first, and fills
And all the sparkling stones of various hue. The arrangement of shells in a cabinet must depend, in a great degree, on the taste and fortune of the collector. If ornament be the object in view, it will be indispensably necessary to have the shells placed in glass cases, where they may be distinctly seen. But where a collection of shells is formed for amusement, they may be kept in drawers, each species placed in a paper case, or in a cup of wood, glass, or porcelain, with a label attached, intimating its name, and the place from whence it was obtained. In this manner, both univalves and biyalves may be conveniently disposed. But, as many of the former are very small in size, it is often necessary to fix them on pieces of card, that they may be preserved, and rendered easier of inspection. Perhaps the best mode of keeping these small shells, even the microscopic species, is to have a cabinet with slips of wood made to slide horizontally: these slips may be from one to three inches in breadth, and covered with white paper. Upon the middle of these the shells are fixed with a solution of gum arabic and a little sugar, and the same marked on the edge. In many joases, when the shells are very minute, a narrow -strip of coloured paper may be fixed along the middle of the slip,to which the shells are to be attached. When neighbouring species are thus brought together, they can be easily examined with a lens. As a convenient and neat and useful method of keeping the smaller univalves, the writer of this article can recommend it from experience. It may be used with equal advantage by the botanist to preserve the smaller lichens.
About the end of the sixteenth century, many individuals began to form collections of testaceous bodies: the first museum of this kind, of any consequence, was begun by Benedict Ceruto, and afterwards augmented by Calceolari. An account of the specimens contained in it was published by Olivi, in 1585, and, in 1622, Chiocco published plates of the shells. After this period, in proportion as collections of testaceous bodies became numerous, various works on shells made their appearance. These were not published for any scientific object, but merely to teach collectors tlie names of the different specimens in their museums. As works of this sort, we may mention the Historia Naturalis of Johnston--the Gazophylacium Nature of Petiverthe Amboinshe Rariteitkamer of Rumphius-and the Wondertoonel der Nature of Vincent. And, to this list we might add many modern works, which are termed Systems of Conchology'.
As various impositions are practised by dealers in shells, the young collector should first possess himself of some well defined species of each genus, to which he may be enabled to refer in all cases of difficulty, when he is about to purchase shells, or to arrange them in his cabinet. These may be obtained on reasonable terms of MR. MAWE, 149, Strand, whose collection abounds in rare and valuable specimens; and here the young conchologist will be sure to meet with useful information relative to this pleasing science.
Fossil Shells. Shells are frequently found under ground, in places far remote from the sea, in mines, and even on the tops of mountains; but how they should come thither
Supplement to Encyclopedia Britannica, vol, iii, part 1, p. 287, art. Conchology.
is a circumstance concerning which there is much division among naturalists. The most rational opinion is, that those parts have been formerly sea, or at least, have been overflown thereby; and many even go back as far as the grand deluge for this. Others take these to be the natural places of their birth or formation, some of them being found little other than crude clay, others of the same texture with the rock to which they grow, though some seem of as absolute a shelly substance as any in the sea. In effect, they say, these may be only so many different gradations of nature, which can as well produce shells in mines as in the sea, there being no want of saline or earthy particles for the purpose; nor is there any great difference between some sorts of spars and sea shells. Fossil shells are found to be of great use in manuring land, and are extensively employed in France for
Of these shells, some are found remaining almost entirely in their native state, but others are variously altered, by being impregnated with particles of stone, and of other minerals. In the place of others there is found mere stone or spar, or some other native mineral body, expressing all their lineaments in the greatest nicety, having derived their form wholly from them; the shell having been first deposited in some solid matrix, and thence dissolved by very slow degrees, this matter having been left in its place, in the cavities of stone and other solid substances, out of which shells had been dissolved and washed away: these substances, so filling the cavities, being necessarily of the same form as that of the shell, to the absence of which the cavity was owing, though all the nicer lineaments may not be so exactly expressed. Besides these, we have also in many places masses of stone formed within various shells; and these having been received into the cavities of the shells while they were perfectly fluid, and having therefore nicely filled all their cavities, must retain the perfect figures of the internal part of the shell, when the shell itself should be worn away, or perished from their outside. The various species we find of these are in many genera as numerous as the known recent ones; and as we have in our own island not only the shells of our own shores, but those of many other very distant ones, so we have also many species, and those in great numbers, which are, in their recent state, the inhabitants of other yet unknown or unsearched seas and shores. The cockles, muscles, oysters, and the other common bivalves of our own seas, are very abundant; but we have also an amazing number of the nautilus kind, particularly of the nautilus græcorum, which though a shell not found living in our own or any neighbouring seas, yet is found buried in all our clay-pits about London and elsewhere; and the most frequent of all fossil shells, in some of our counties, are the conchæ anomiæ, which yet we scarcely know of in any part of the world in their recent state. Of the cornua ammonis and the gryphitæ, with several of the echinite and others, no recent analogues are known.
The exact similitude of the known shells, recent and fossil, in their several kinds, will by no means suffer us to believe that these, though not yet known to us in their living state, are, as some have idly thought, a sort of lusus naturæ. It is certain, that, of the many known shores, very few, not even those of our own island, have been yet carefully searched for the shell-fish that inhabit them; and as we see in the nautilus græcorum an instance of shells being brought from very distant parts of the world to be buried there, we cannot wonder that yet unknown shores, or the unknown bottoms of deep seas, should have furnished us with many unknown shell-fish, which may have been brought with the rest; whether that were at the time of the general deluge, or the effect of any other catastrophe of a like kind, or by whatever other means to be left in the yet unhardened matter of our stony and clayey strata.
Select Books on Eonchology. To those who are about to enter on the pleasing study of shells, we would recommend the two following publications :-Burrow's Elements of Conchology, according to the Linnæan System; with 28 Plates drawn from Nature, and a List of Conchological Writers, 8vo, 2d edit, an extremely useful book; and Wodarch's Introduction to the Study of Conchology, 8vo, with 4 coloured Plates, a pleasant and attractive work.-Brown's Conchology, 8vo.--Graves's Naturalist's Pocket Book, 8vo, to which we are indebted;—and Mawe's Shell-Collectors' Pilot, 12mo. Other works for the more advanced student and collector are, Montagu's Testacea Britannica; or, Natural History of British Shells, Marine, Land, and Fresh-water, including the most minute, systematically arranged and embellished with Figures, 4to, 2 vols. and Supplement; an extremely important and interesting book.-Pennant's British. Zoology, vol. 4.--Donovau's British Shells, 8vo, 5 vols. with 180 most beantifully coloured Plates. The fourth Volume of Dr. Turton's Translation of Linnæus's System of Nature.- Wood's Index Testaceologicus ; or, Catalogue of Shells, British and Foreign, arranged ac, cording to the Linnæan System, with the Latin and English Names, and References to Figures and Places where found.-Swainson's Exotic Conchology, with Plates.- See also the Article Conchology in the Supplement to the Encyclopædia Britannica, vol. iii, part 1, and in Brewster's Cyclopædia, vol. vii, from both of which we have derived much valuable information; and to these excellent essays we refer for an account of the various alterations that have taken place in the classification of shells since the time of Linnæus, as well as for an estimate of the comparative merits of the new systems. For full particulars of Fossil Shells, with some most interesting Plates, consult Parkinson's Organic Remains of a Former World, 4to, 3 vols.