The Academy of Natural Sciences hosted the Philadelphia’s annual Shell Show Oct. 22-23, the largest shell display event in the northeast.
The Philadelphia Shell Club began holding shell shows in 1962, but the first show open to the public was in 1983. Since then, the show has been a yearly event that serves as a way for collectors to showcase their finds.
This year, thousands of shells were on display, varying in size from 3 millimeters to a few feet long.
On the first floor of the show, dealers were selling shells and other trinkets made out of shells, like bracelets, earrings and necklaces. The most expensive shell was more than $1,000.
“There’s actually a shell pricing guide…and supply and demand are taken into account as well,” Stefan Dabrowski, a shell dealer, explained.
Certain types of shells are more expensive than others based on looks and size. Shiny shells tend to be more expensive, as well as ones with intricate patterns and color schemes, Dabrowski noted.
“The patterns of the shells come from the animal itself and the shine comes from animal secretions,” he said.
In order for shells to be sold at their highest price, they must be undamaged. This means no chips or scratches, according to Dabrowski.
Collectors will bring their finds to dealers who will then sell the shells at shows and conventions across the country. Every year there is a Conchologists of America convention; this year’s convention was in Chicago and next year’s will be in Key West.
On the second floor of the show, shell collections, both scientific and artistic, were on display.
Awards were given for 33 scientific and 52 artistic divisions. Shells entered in scientific classes were judged based on the choice of specimen, attractiveness, detailing, quality of labeling and the educational value of the display, while artistic entries were judged on technique, execution and aesthetic appeal.
Members of the Philadelphia Shell Club were at the academy handing out free shells to children and answering questions about the collections.
According to the PSC president, there are about 55 current members. They meet at 7:30 p.m. on every third Thursday of the month between September and June at the Academy of Natural Sciences.
Meetings for the Philadelphia Shell Club involve a main speaker, presentations from club members and shells on display for sale.
More information on the winners of the shell show, as well as PSC meetings can be found on the club’s website.