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Sowerby's Illustrated Index of British Shells

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First published in 1859.

The author, George Brettingham Sowerby,  was a British naturalist, illustrator and conchologist. Born in August 1788, he was the son of James Sowerby, also a British naturalist, illustrator and mineralogist. When James died, his brother & son, James De Carle Sowerby and George B. Sowerby I respectively, continued their father's work on fossil shells, publishing the latter parts of the Mineral Conchology of Great Britain.

Sowerby's Illustrated Index of British Shells came about from the use of Forbes & Hanley's 'Catalogue of the Shells of Great Britain and Ireland'. On the one hand, this tome was a very useful list of names without figures or references which helps the reader to identify the species. On the otherhand, it was a very large and splendid work which meant it was priced out of the range of the everyday Naturalist.

This Index was produced to fill the gap and assist collectors of British Shells in the naming of their finds from the ocean, beach, river, pond or hedgerow. About 700 Figures in the 24 beautiful hand-coloured Plates represent all the recognised species of the time. Some information is added respecting habits and localities, range of depth of marine species, and comparative abundunce and also includes a list of British Fossil Shells.

Sowerby's Illustrated Index of British Shells Second Edition (1887) is revised and enlarged by Sowerby's son, G.B. Sowerby II and has 2 extra plates (26 instead of 24), and describes 68 additional species.

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Contributed by Sonia

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