Monday, September 21, 2009

Book of the Week: Fun with Shells


Timothy Abbott Conrad (1803-1877) enjoyed a remarkable career, and, although he is best known as an American geologist, malacologist, and carcinologist, he began his professional career as a clerk in his father's printing and publishing house. It was not until 1831, also the year in which Conrad was elected a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences, that he published his first volume, American Marine Conchology, or Descriptions and Colored Figures of the Shells of the Atlantic Coast (several plates from which are pictured here). Intending with this volume to "supply a deficiency which [had] long been felt by the cultivators of American natural history," this volume contains seventeen plates, all illustrated by Conrad and hand colored by his sister, that depict the abundance and variation of the shells found along America's coastline.

Conrad died on August 9, 1877, in Trenton, New Jersey. His death, according to Popular Science Monthly (volume 47, 1895), marked the passing of "the last of the prominent group of early Philadelphia naturalists, who paved the way for the more philosophical biologists of the present day."

To view this week's book of the week, American Marine Conchology, or Descriptions and Colored Figures of the Shells of the Atlantic Coast (1831), by Thomas Abbott Conrad, contributed by the Smithsonian Institution, click here.

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