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Proper identification is important – but collecting data is even more so

Good labels are as important as the shells themselves. It makes no sense to throw a bunch of shells into a cabinet without any data, unless you want them for decoration only. Collectors should always try to obtain and keep as much information about their specimens as possible. This will certainly raise the value of the collection – not only monetary but scientifically also.

For example, let’s consider a landsnail specimen collected in downtown Rio de Janeiro in 1900. Of course, today you won’t find there a single living shell (or any living animal except for pigeons and rats…), but the record from a wisely kept label secured the information, so that future generations will know the location of that species in the past.

Below is a list of important information which should be on a label – it may look like too much, but it will be worth the extra work some day.

  • Family, species name and author.
  • Exact location - avoid imprecise location such as “next to house”, preferably beach or city name, not forgetting to include the country (not everyone knows all the names of cities in Iceland…). You may add other information as “on the left side of beach”.
  • Habitat – under rocks, sand, depth, etc
  • Bibliography – people may want to know where you got that identification.
  • Collector’s name
  • Source - donation from collector, dealer’s name, bought at shell show, trip, etc.
  • Collecting date
  • Acquisition date (when you acquired it, if different from the collecting date)
  • Size – important in the event you get more specimens and they get mixed in the same drawer or box
  • Special features – color, exceptional size, pattern, etc.
  • Value – yes, one day someone may be interested in purchasing your collection and it will be good to know how much you have invested there. Use average prices for self-collected specimens for valuation purposes.

PS. The label illustrated here was from Bunnie Cook’s collection. It is from 1990 and one of our first labels – and no, I don’t miss hand-written labels…


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