Shell Collecting

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Sammy Snail introduces sites most suitable for kids or the young at heart!


Man and Mollusc Directory on Collecting 





Catalog of Shell Prices:  Rice, Tom. A Catalog of Dealers' Prices for Marine Shells, Including Freshwater & Terrestrial Shells. (Online order form available.)  Of Sea and Shore Publications; P.O. Box 219; Port Gamble, WA 98364. 


Data Bases and Checklists os shells


Cleaning & Storing Shells:


Conchologists of America:

Conchology Inc.: By Guido & Philippe Poppe: This site contains almost everything a person could want to know about collecting shells.  Guido’s scans and photos of molluscs and shells are truly wonderful.  Do not miss this site!
Everything you need to know about collecting shells


Data Labels: The Tragedy And The Comedy By Bill Frank


Grading Shells:
I would like to thank australian seashells for allowing me to copy their "Grading of Seashells" table on to this Man and Mollusc Page. Hugh Morrison has perfected his definitions of the commonly used grading of specimen seashells over nearly 40 years for his customers and has most generously allowed me to post them here as a guide to other shell collectors.

australian seashells


GEM  - Shells are without any discernible blemish or flaw. The specimen will be fully adult and of typical size.
F++ / GEM  - 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.
F++  -Shells have a noticeable flaw or blemish which does not detract from the look of the shell.
F+ / F++  - 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 highly suitable for aesthetically pleasing collections, being considerably less expensive than GEM specimens.
F+  - 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.
Several large sized species are only available in F+ condition.
F / F+  - 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.

F / DEAD - 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.

Obviously any grading system can not possibly do justice to all available specimens and most shells will require further description.

Comments by Ross Mayhew of Schooner Specimen Shells on grading shells and shell dealers

Here is a selection of sites from some of our other commercial shell dealers on how they grade shells. You will find the grading system is very similar to that shown in the above table:


Worldwide Conchology: by Richard L. Goldberg


Identification of Shells: 
Sites to help you out:


Jacksonville Shell Club: From best places to shell in Florida to Florida Shell Data Bases, Jacksonvilles' Shell Club web site has many excellent articles (901 pages!!) and links to all things shell-related.  Marc Agren Specimen Shells; "Your cabinet to the world of malacology/conchology"


Prices of Shells:

Purchasing shells can be one way to collect shells: Visit these Man and Mollusc pages to learn where shells can be purchased
  • Auctions: For shells and other great stuff.  This can be a useful place to locate shells.  BUT BE CAREFUL.  Know the value of the item you are bidding on.  Set a maximum bid in your mind.  Don’t go over it!.  Bidding can be contagious and you end up paying far more than you would from a reputable dealer. BUYER BEWARE!

    If you do wish to try your hand at auctions, Check out Man and Mollusc's Auctions Page or visit an auction I use from time to time: eBay

  • Commercial Sales of Shells:  This is just as it says.  All these sites are shell and/or book dealers. This is an impersonal list.  I do not know many of these dealers personally and do not give credence to any dealer on this list.   Research a dealer just as you would any other store.  Shop around a bit, talk to (phone or email) the seller.  Make sure you know and understand their policies for grading shells and how you pay for the shell and if shipping charges are involved. 


San Diego Natural History Museum:


Sea Shell Live –open forum, Shelling news, Great links, Shell identification assistance, UP-TO-DATE Shelling events and MUCH MUCH more 


Shell Clubs: Man and Mollusc Directory

The National Museum of Natural History: 
Selected Sources of Information on Mollusks
***: This publication can be made available in Braille or audio cassette. To obtain a copy in one of these formats, please call or write:   Smithsonian Information:   Washington, DC 20560-0010 

Links Pages of Interest:  
This site is devoted to the answering of all your questions you might have about seashells, beachcombing, cleaning seashells, preserving sea life, identifying your seashells, and more.


World Wide Conchology: by Richard L. Goldberg : "The WORLDWIDE CONCHOLOGY Web Site is designed for shell collectors with a variety of interests in the hobby and science of conchology, and for anyone who has ever been fascinated with the beauty and diversity of sea and land shells. Our intention is to illustrate a wide variety of shells from around the world through high quality digital images. Whether you are a scientific collector looking to compare shells in your collection with illustrations of obscure species, a scuba diver with an interest in collecting shells, a naturalist with an appreciation for the molluscan realm, an artist looking for inspiration through the color and pattern of shells, or a novice collector looking to learn more about conchology, there is something here for you. Use the Pulldown Menu above to enter the world of CONCHOLOGY."


This page was last completely edited
November 30, 2010
If you have a site you would like to see added to this or any other of Man and Mollusc Link pages; PLEASE notify me

This is a new counter system set up by Globel on
December 01, 2002