Copyright-free Natural History Seashell identification Posters
I have just returned from a visit to my parents in Portugal. After collecting some beautiful shells from the local Portugal beach, I thought it would be great to curate a collection of shell posters and images.
Seashells found on the beach are the exoskeleton of marine mollusks. The shells mostly consist of calcium carbonate. It is the hard protective outer body of the sea creature (mollusk). Most of the shells found on the beach are empty because the soft part of the sea creature has died, or been eaten by a preditor.
Conchology is the study of seashells. Some conchologists collect shells for their beauty and aesthetic appeal. Whilst others collect them for scientific study. Many of the shell posters below are beautiful natural history illustrations from the 19th and 20th century.
These seashell posters would look fabulous framed on the wall in a summer house and anywhere with a nautical-themed decor. They would be also great to use in decoupage crafts.
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The Seashell Posters and Illustrations
The following shell posters are from the book “A Conchological Manual Plates” by George B. Sowerby (1839). George was a well known British naturalist & illustrator. He came from a family of several generations of naturalists, illustrators, botanists, and zoologists. The Sowerby family was active from the late 18th century to the mid-twentieth century.
This shell poster of George Sowerby features coiled Nautilus shells and the Atlantic Thorny Oyster (Spondylus Americanus).
Nautilus shells were a popular feature in a cabinet of curiosities, in both Renaissance and in Victorian homes. They were often mounted by goldsmiths on a thin stem to make extravagant nautilus shell cups.
Barnacles are marine creatures that live in shallow and tidal waters. They attach themselves to hard surfaces including the hulls of ships and boats.
They are even found glued for the body of whales, turtles, crabs and other sea creatures. Most animals are not even aware of barnacles on their body because they do not produce harmful effects.
Clams, scallops and oyster are all bivalve shells. They are all commonly farmed or harvested for food and they all also have the ability to produce a pearl of some sort.
As well as being harvested for food the shells of the bivalves have a commercial use for the production of glue, chalk, and varnish.
This is a shell poster of helix and spiral shaped gastropod seashells.
The next five shell posters are from the German book “Vergnügen der Augen und des Gemüths” by Wolfgang Knorr published in 1757. The title of this shell identification book translates as ” Pleasure of the eyes and the mind“. The shell illustrations in this book are beautiful that is why I have included them in this collection.
The next five sea shell posters are from the book “Index testaceologicus, an illustrated catalogue of British and foreign shells” by Sylvanus Hanley published in 1856.
Sylvanus Hanley was a British Conchologist. He inherited a fortune, which enabled him to devote a lifetime to the study of shells. He was especially interested in the bivalves, on which he was a leading authority.
One of my favourite things to do whilst on my annual holiday to Portugal is to go out for clams. The Portuguese love their clams and cook them simply in coriander and garlic. In the Algarve, they are also well known for their pork and clam stew, which is delicious.
Interestingly, the word porcelain derives from the old Italian term for the cowry shell (porcellana). This is due to the shiny appearance of cowry shells which is similar to porcelain.
Cowry shells have historically been used as currency in some parts of the Indian ocean. The beautiful shiny shells are also used extensively in jewelry, and for other decorative crafts.
If you love these sea shell posters then you will probably love some of my other wonderful seaside-themed free vintage images.