George Cooper Spence, 1875-1945

By Dr. J. W. Jackson

Extracted from Journal of Conchology, Volume 22, p.206

The Society has suffered a grievous loss in the death of G. C. Spence on 1st May, 1945. He was in his 70th year. His wife predeceased him. His two sons are both serving in H.M. Forces.

Mr. Spence was a keen conchologist and joined the Society in 1907, and served on the Council as a Vice-President for many years. He was also a member of the Malacological Society, which he joined in 1920. In addition, he was a member of the Lancashire and Cheshire Fauna Committee, and the Altrincham and District Natural History and Literary Society, being President of the latter from 1943–5.

He specialized in African Land and Fresh Water Mollusca, receiving large collections from friends in pre-war days. He contributed several papers on these to the Journal.

His interest in the African mollusca began about 1920 when I handed over to him a collection sent to me from the Belgian Congo by Mr. F. M. Dyke (collected in 1918–19). Later he received further consignments direct. Another group in which he was interested was Cylindrella, of which he described a number of species.

After the death of Edward Collier Mr. Spence was instrumental in securing for the Altrincham Museum two fine cabinets of Land and Fresh Water Mollusca, the foreign section of which he boxed and named.

Following his wife’s death and the cessation of supplies from Africa during the war, he gave up his house at Sale and went to live in a private hotel, where he took up other studies. He gave his African collection to the Manchester Museum and his books on African mollusca to the Conchological Society.

Among side-lines after retiring from an insurance business in Manchester he studied clay-pipes and the history of pipe-making in Lancashire and Cheshire; old (metal) Fire Insurance signs on old buildings; and old shop-signs, such as Pestle and Mortar for Chemists, Nigger’s Head for Tobacconists, etc. These hobbies took him to many parts of the country. An important paper by him on old tobacco-pipes and their makers in Cheshire, illustrated by his own drawings, was published by the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society in 1944. Another on Lancashire clay pipes is still in manuscript form.

Spence also collected postage stamps, especially African.

On reading my book, Shells as Evidence of the Migrations of Early Culture (1917), he became quite enthusiastic about the subject, and gathered together an interesting collection of shells used as currency.


Papers published by G. C. Spence.

Milax gagates at Eccies,” Journ. Conch., 1909, p.45.
“On the Dart of Helix undata Lowe,” ibid., 1910, p. 210, text-fig.
“Note on Helix pomatia,” ibid., 1911, p. 178.
“Note on Urocoptis lata C. B. Ad. var. Producta C. B. Ad.,” ibid., 1912, p. Ia, text-fig.
“Scalariform Helix asparsa,” (sic.) ibid., 1912, p. 311.
“Note on Urocoptis rosea Pfr.,” ibid., 1914, p. 159.
“On a supposed new species of Limicolaria,” ibid., 1915, pp. 127—8, text-fig.
“Note on Coelocentrum gigas Mts.,” ibid., 1916, p. 128.
“Note on Urocoptidae,” ibid., 1916, p. 12.
Brachypodella oropouchensis nov. sp. from Trinidad, W.I.,” ibid., 1919, p. 42, plate.
Tropidophora standeni nov. sp. from Madagascar,” ibid., 1919, p. 43, plate.
“Note on the Reproduction of Obeliscus obeliscus (Moricand),” 1919, p. 67.
Brachypodella nidicosta nov. sp. from Venezuela,” ibid., 1920, p. 86, plate.
“On Obeliscus (Protobeliscus) riparius (Pfr.),” ibid., 1921, p. 135, fig.
A Collection of Mollusca from the Belgian Congo,” ibid., 1922, p. 265.
“Mollusca from the Belgian Congo (II),” ibid., 1923, pp. 19–21, pl.1.
“Mollusca from the Belgian Congo (III),” ibid., 1924, p. 118.
“On a Collection of Mollusca from the Cameroons,” ibid., 1925, pp. 248—250, text-figs.
“Molluscs from the Belgian Congo (IV),” ibid., 1926, pp. 46–9.
“Note on Achatina fulica Fér.,” ibid., 1926, p. 53.
Brachypodella (Gyraxis) emerita nov. ap.,” ibid., 1927, p. 136, fig.
“Non-Marine Molluscs from West Africa,” ibid., 1928, p. 211, plate.
“Marine Mollusca from a Raised Beach in Cornwall,” ibid., 1929, p. 317.
“Notes on a Moonstone from Venezuela,” ibid., 1932, p. 191, fig.
“On the sub-genus Apoma Beck,” ibid., 1933, p.286
“Notes on Potadoma graptoconus P. & B.,” ibid., 1937, p. 340.
Helix pisana Müller,” ibid., 1938, p. 72.
Limicolaria as a pest,” ibid., 1938, p. 72.
“How do Land Operculates reproduce ? “ ibid., 1939, p. 184.
“Note on Urocoptis olssoni Pils.,” ibid., 1940, p. 189, fig.
Urocoptis dubia Chitty,” ibid., 1944, p. 93.


The following types are in his collection at Manchester

Ptychotrema (Parennea) dykeiana Spence = Parennea connollyi D. & P.
*Ennea collieri M. & P. = Gulella infans (Craven).
Achatina schweinfurthi Mts., var. semifusca Spence.
Limicolaria abinsiensis and var. aurea, Shackl. & Spence.
Pseudoglessula (Ischnoglessula) pulchella Spence.
Homorus (Subulona) bumbaensis Spence.
Pseudopeas opoboensis Spence.
Ceras texistriatum Spence.
Succinea catena = Aillya catena (Spence).
Cleopatra dupuisi = Melanoides dupuisi (Spence).
Thiara (Melanoides) dykei = Potadorna dykei (Spence).
Potadoma nyongensis Spence.
Urocoptis (Paracallonia) corpulenta Spence.
U. (Tornelasmus) semicolorata Spence.
Brachypodella nidicostata Spence.
B. oropouchensis Spence.
B. (Gyraxis) emerita Spence.
Tropidophora standeni Spence.

* It has been stated that the types of collieri are in B.M., but as M. and P. described it from two specimens in Ed Collier’s collection, and as Collier gave Spence these two shells I can hardly see how the B.M. have the types.


Editorial Note by J. R. le B. Tomlin

Extracted from Journal of Conchology, volume 22. p. 287
A correspondent writes: I was glad to see some account of G. C. Spence in the 9th number of this Journal. His friendly manner, quaint humour, and intelligent outlook made him always welcome on his occasional visits to London. To the ist of his papers given on pages 206—7 should be added :–
"Note on a “double-mouthed” Holospira cockerelli Dali." Nautilus, 41, 94 (1928).
"The epiphragm in Streptaxis." Proc. Malac. Soc., 19, 9 (1930).
"Two new Urocoptis from Cuba." Proc. Malac. Soc., 22, 13 (1936).