Still more autobiography

Chapter I

In the late 1890's, under the stimulus of an excellent science master at the Brewers' Company's School at Islington, one of the boys became curator of the school museum. It was a well run affair with everything properly labelled with locality, genus, species, author, etc., and with the trivial names of the specimens respectfully placed after the Latin names. On Saturday afternoons the museum committee took material to the Natural History Museum at South Kensington for identification and of all the zoological miscellanea that filled their satchels the shells were the school curator's favourites. I was he.

Chapter II

Many years and one world war later. As light relief from a war job I went occasionally to Stevens' Auction Rooms in Hatton Garden, now, alas, long since closed. The sales there were entertainment without the necessity of paying entertainment tax: the queerest things were offered, one of which happened to be a box of Amphidromus shells, a glory of colour and form. I bought it and at that moment the furor conchyliorum was re-kindled in me.

Chapter III

Many more years and another world war later. I now have in 2k cabinets, large and small, nearly "13,000 species (yes, they are all named) and a shell library of some 600 books and more than 3,000 separates.

A. Blok