Monograph of the Genus Cancellaria by G. B. Sowerby. Originally published in the Thesaurus Conchyliorum, vol. 2, pp. 439-461, pis. 92-96 (in colour), London, 1849.

Submitted by Steve Wilkinson on Sun, 09/05/2010 23:38

Facsimile edition with an Update by A. Verhacken, 11 pp., Luis Pisani Bumay Publisher, Lisboa, 1985.

Review source

Originally reviewed by E Sandor in 1986.

Published in Journal of Conchology (1986), Vol.32

This is one of the earliest pictorial Monographs devoted to the genus Cancellaria. It describes 68 Recent species, 41 of which were introduced to science by members of the Sowerby family prior to the publication of this Monograph. Though there arc no new species descriptions in it, the Monograph is a valuable source material for the 41 'Sowerby species' and it can be helpful in settling controversial identification problems, until a modem revision of the genus/family becomes available.

The descriptions arc in Latin with short comments and locality data in English. The text is accompanied by 106 colour drawings of natural size. The original illustrations were of excellent quality, never surpassed in the rest of the 19th century, and they arc reproduced well in the facsimile edition. The 6 colour plates are printed on strong, stiff paper and arc kept in a pocket attached to the back cover of the booklet. Several species were illustrated here for the first time and 15 of them have later been designated as type species of some of the new genera and subgenera into which the Lamarckian genus Cancellaria has subsequently been split.

The number of species described is less than a third of the Recent Cancellaria species known today, and some of the names used here arc now considered to be junior synonyms. Nevertheless, the Monograph contains a high proportion of the Recent Cancellaria species found in museums and private collections, shells which conchologists are likely to come across. A particularly useful feature of this facsimile edition is the Update by the Belgian conchologist Verhacken, a long-time student of the genus Cancellaria. This gives the current taxonomic position of all the 68 species including synonymy, homonymy, spelling mistakes, generic placement and correct locality data where applicable. It is very concise, but clear-cut and well arranged.

All in all, this well-produced and reasonably priced little book is a useful addition to the library of every conchologist who is interested in the genus Cancellaria. It contains many fine illustrations and some valuable source material which is otherwise inaccessible to many conchologists.