Wenceslaus Hollar

Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-77) was born in Prague, and in 1636 settled in London, establishing himself as a hugely productive printmaker. During the English Civil War, Hollar moved to Antwerp, where around 1645 he produced a series of 41 etchings of shells. All the shells are tropical species, some from the Caribbean, but most from south-east Asia (as far afield as Australia). They must have been brought back to the Low Countries by traders and explorers to form part of an unknown collector’s ‘cabinet of curiosities’. The etchings were presumably intended for a book that was never published; they are consequently very rare, and this appears to be the only complete set.


Commercial top-shell (Trochus niloticus)
South African turban (Turbo sarmaticus)
Dark-mouthed tibia (Tibia fusus melanocheilus)
Pink conch (Strombus gigas)
Two screw shells (Turritella spp.)
Spider conch (Lambis chiragra)
Tiger cowrie (Cypraea tigris)
Horned helmet (Cassis cornuta)
Spotted tun (Tonna dolium)
Pacific partridge tun (Tonna perdix)
Giant tun (Tonna galea)
Trumpet triton (Charonia tritonis)
Ruddy frog shell (Bursa rubeta )
Comon delphinula and hairy triton
Snipeis bill murex (Murex haustellum)
Venusis comb murex (Murex pectens)
Short-spined murex (Murex brevispina)
Angular triton (Cymatium femorale)
Neapolitan triton (Cymatium parthenopeum)
Black-spotted triton (Cymatium lotorium)
West Indian crown conch (Melongena melongena)
Pink-mouth murex (Phyllonotus erythrostomus)
Prince murex (Hexaplex princeps)
Tuba false fusus (Hemifusus tuba)
Papal mitre (Mitra papalis)
Cardinal mitre and subulate auger
True tulip (Fasciolaria tulipa)
Australian trumpet (Syrinx aruanus)
Trapezium horse conch (Pleuroploca trapezium L.)
Caribbean vase (Vasum muricatum Born)
Ceramic vase (Vasum ceramicum)
Telescope shell and Nicobar spindle
Major harp (Harpa major )
Hebrew volute (Voluta ebraea)
Giant baler (Melo amphora)
Chambered nautilus (Nautilus pompilius)
Nodose paper nautilus (Argonauta nodosa)
Noble volute (Cymbiola nobilis)
Imperial cone (Conus imperialis)
Bear paw clam (Hippopus hippopus)
Giant Ghana land snail (Achatina achatina)