Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc. (originally published 1908), Second Edition (1931). Index. 485pp. 7.125 x 10 inches. Hardcover. Numerous photographs.
Every person interested in shells has felt the need of a manual of the shell-bearing animals of sea and land, comparable to the comprehensive manuals provided for those who wish to study birds or insects or trees. Small hand-books serve as guides to the seashore, but they treat only detached portions of the great kingdom, Mollusca. What is needed for more serious study is a larger book in which the families of mollusks are arranged in their proper order, to give a general idea of the size and scope of the important genera, and their natural relationships. Such a popular guide should give precedence to the accepted English names of the families and of the individual species described, while attaching to each its scientific name. It is quite possible to give the general reader the information he desires in his own language, without sacrifice of scientific accuracy.
A book of this kind must be the outgrowth of extensive acquaintance with living mollusks in their natural surroundings, or it will be as dead as the shells in a cabinet, and dry as the dust on the old shell catalogues. It must bring together as much as can be found out about the habits of the mollusks described, and the uses people make of them, if they have any economic value. Many shells have never yet been seen alive; others are practically unknown. It is astonishing how little is known about many species of mollusks.
The standard literature of conchology has a limited circulation. The classics are rare and sumptuously illustrated volumes locked up in glass cases in the great libraries. These are out of date, of course. The newer treatises are expensive and very technical. Many facts of the highest interest and value are hidden away in official reports of scientific expeditions, not easily obtainable nor easily read by anyone untrained in the scineces.
If I have failed in my attempt to make an interesting and useful shell book, it is not because conditions were unfavorable for my purpose. Everything and everybody worked together to help me.
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