OUT OF MY SHELL by S. P. Dance. Pub. C - Shells - 3 2OO5 212 pp. ISBN 0-9769567-1-3. Paperback, price (Unknown at present)
Mollusc World 9; page 23
Many Victorians compiled “Commonplace Books”, — Scrapbooks which they filled with quotations from favourite novels or poems, excerpts from books or newspapers which interested or amused them, recipes, prints or, if they were skilful at art, their own drawings. Out of my Shell may perhaps be described as a Conchological Commonplace book containing a highly personal selection of extracts and press cuttings collected by Peter Dance over many years, often fugitive pieces which may otherwise have been lost or forgotten, together with original writing by Peter on subjects which have caught his interest as well as personal anecdotes of his experiences as a conchologist.
Some of the pieces here are familiar, some new, and sometimes the author sheds a new light on a familiar subject. The result is a collection which is in turns informative, amusing and entertaining.
Where else would you find a discussion on exotic shells found in the ruins of Pompeii; an account of bookplates depicting shells; details of shell sculptures on Gaudi Cathedral of the Holy Family in Barcelona; comments on the Queen other as an honorary member of the Winkle Club and information on the use of the crystaline lenses from Squid eyes as substitute eyes in Peruvian Mummies.
I was amused by the book reviewer quoted as writing “This book has very beautiful pictures of shells, the text is all in Japanese but fortunately all the Latin names are in English”. Intrigued by ‘The Sea Shell Mission’ and the cheque drawn on the inside of a shell. Fascinated at the thought of a scientist eating the animals from several different species of Slit-Shell in the cause of research - all distasteful.
The text is accompanied by a judicious selection of illustrations, mixing photographs, old prints and. original drawings y the author and others. All are chosen to illustrate the text to maximum advantage. There is a good index and a list of full scientific names — which are quoted without authors in the text for brevity.
This book may be treated as a bedside book, to be dipped into again and again, or read straight through as a fascinating collection by one of Conchology’s most renowned authors. ii you choose to read this, the book can be thoroughly recommended.
A hard back, limited edition, is also available at the higher price of US $75, for the ardent bibliophile.