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Haslemere Educational Museum Natural History Gallery
Natural History Gallery

Haslemere Educational Museum Gallery Shells Case
Gallery Shells Display

Natural History


The largest collection in the entire museum is the shell collection with over 70,000 specimens from over 4,500 species. These shells were collected from freshwater, marine, and terrestrial locations and include common shells like the cowries, conches, nautilus, oysters and scallops.

In our Natural History Gallery there are shells of many different types from around the world, in particularly the Trumpet shell and Flute Giant Clam from the Pacific, an Imperial Thorny Oyster shell from Japan and Violet Sea-snail shells from the open seas.

The majority of the 24,500 catalogued shells were collected from worldwide geographical locations during the first half of the 20th Century and given to the museum in 1949 by Mr. R.H. Moses.

Highlights from the Collection

Robert Henson Moses Collection

The collector Robert Henson Moses (1871-1949) bequeathed a large collection of worldwide marine, land, and freshwater shells to Haslemere Museum. The connection with Haslemere was through an associate Colonel J. F. Bensley, whose mother lived in the area. Both Colonel Bensley and Moses were both members of the Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

Moses worked as a pharmacist in North London. He had a broad interest in natural history, but he disposed of his collections of plants, birds’ eggs and lepidoptera to specialise in molluscs. He visited the Kent coast often, particularly Sandwich Bay, to collect marine shells. Some of these were placed in his collection, but others were used for exchange. He corresponded with conchologists all over the world and the bulk of his collection is non-British.

Moses Collection
Moses shells
Moses shells

Each specimen is neatly labelled with its scientific name, authority where known and locality where available. Only a few have a date of collection, but most are probably dated 1930 to 1948. A manuscript catalogue to the collection in a bound ledger provides an index to the genera and listings with data. The catalogue covers general marine shells in the first part and land shells in the second part.

Reverend Eyre Collection
Reverend Eyre Collection
Drawer VII Helix hortensis
Drawer VII Helix hortensis

Reverend Eyre bequeathed his shell collection to Haslemere Museum in 1914.  In addition to land and fresh water shells, he also donated mosses, slime moulds (mycetozoa) and blackberry bushes (brambles).  He was a well known Hampshire naturalist, and a past president of the British Mycological Society.  Testimony to his zeal as a conchologist is afforded by the numerous records that appear under his name in J. W. Taylor’s Monograph of British Land and Fresh-water Molluscs.

His collection at Haslemere Museum is stored in two cabinets and contains several species and varieties of special interest from across Britain and the Channel Islands.  The Eyre material also well supplements the museum’s British reference collection.