Special Anniversary Edition August 2003

Newsletter of the Shell Club of Sydney
NSW Branch, The Malacological Society of Australasia Limited ACN 067 894 848

This Special Edition contained a list of Sheller authors from the first issue June?July 1979 to March 2003.

This list is now available from the Sheller index web page so is not repeated here. The issue also had pictures taken from front covers of old issues, and the full front cover of the original issue. Pictures from more recent Shellers which therefore appear elsewhere in this web site are not repeated here.

20 Years of 'The Sydney Sheller'. 
24 Years of our 'News Letter'

By John A. Franklin (LLM, Syd)

"Shells form a link in the great chain of nature, and constitute a department of rational inquiry worthy of the researches of men of science; and when we consider the wonderful diversity of singular and beautiful forms which they present to our notice, they cannot fail to invite the attention of the most common observer. Conchology, indeed is a study peculiarly adapted to recreate the senses, and insensibly to lead us to the contemplation of the glory of God in creation" (Outlines of Conchology, Times Telescope, 1822)

At a meeting in June 1979 the then members of the Conchological Section of the Royal Zoological Society of Australia decided to produce a regular Newsletter designed for the purpose of publishing details of Field Trips, research articles and new book reviews.

The initial responsibility for voluntarily producing the newsletter fell to Mr. C. Moutoudis who commenced his productions on a formula: U + I = 1. In explaining the formula he said the U = the supply of ideas + "I" will do the work equals "1" very interesting newsletter. By adapting this mathematical approach he was able to publish many items of interest to members.

The newsletter was known as "Con's Conchology" and the first issue was introduced and distributed to the members at the July meeting of 1979, held at the Royal Zoological Society's premises, located at Taronga Park Zoo, Sydney.

The last edition of "Con's Conchology" appeared in March 1983, when Mr. Moutoudis resigned from the Club. During his period of editorship the newsletters were richly punctuated with drawings of shells and with very descriptive reports of field trips.

With the next issue 16th April 1983 there was a name change. The first edition of "The Sydney Sheller" appeared with Mr. Jules Leroi taking on the responsibility of Editor. The front page was headed The Sydney Sheller, monthly publication of the Royal Zoological Society of NSW Conchology section and displayed a photograph of Conus aulicus. That photograph illustrated the front page until it was replaced by a picture of Strombidae, lambis chiragra.


Following Mr. Leroi's resignation in February 1991 The Sydney Sheller was produced by Mr. David Woodhouse and with a corresponding change in editorship so also was there a change in the design of the front cover. From now on until the next change in editorship in July 1998, the front cover depicted beautiful illustrations of a shell by Dr. Patty Jansen, so that, each month the front cover was different. In addition the Council of the M.S.A. approved the formation of a N.S.W. Branch on 21 July 1993, whose meetings were in the future to be held in conjunction with the R.Z.S. Conchology Section at Taronga Park Zoo.

From December 1993 the additional words Newsletter of C.S.R.Z.S. of N.S.W. and the "N.S.W. Branch of M.S.A." were added to the front page being "Dedicated to the investigation and preservation of the Molluscan Fauna and its habitat.

Mr. David Woodhouse was indeed a zealous worker and made a great contribution to the newsletter during the period of his editorialship, which concluded with the June 1998 edition. 

The then President Mr. Michael Keats in an annual report expressed his view of the publication when he said:

"During 1991/1992 the Sydney Sheller has become of age. It has become a publication of which the section can be truly proud. The result in no small way is attributed to David Woodhouse and his determination to give us the very best. David's plea for material for publication has been answered by many in Australia and overseas, particularly Germany. We look forward to this publication reflecting our concerns and our views on the future of our very environmentally and ecologically sensitive activities.

To David Wood house my public congratulations."

Mr. Woodhouse best sums up his great contribution in the following statement which appeared in the June 1998 edition:

"The Sydney Sheller - Editor Retires

As many of you are already aware this will be my last edition of "The Sydney Sheller". When I took over from Jules Leroi in 1991 "The Sydney Sheller" was a publication of the Conchology Section, Royal Zoological Society of NSW. I had no idea I would be still producing the newsletter seven years later!

HISTORY. My first edition was in May 1991. Twenty five copies were produced and on the cover was a laser colour photocopy of Bate Bay, Kurnell from Potter Point. In August 1991we saw the first of Patty Jansen's illustrations on the cover and the first of her wonderfully illustrated articles "Some Common Sydney Marginellidae". The November 1991 issue contained a warning regarding Byne's Disease by Thora Whitehead and Kay Rutland's recollections of "Early Memories of Shell Collecting in Sydney". March 1992 saw the first article submitted from overseas with Ulrich Knodel's "A Taxonomic History of Columbariinae". The first colour photograph appeared in the November 1992 edition featuring a live Hydatina physis illustrating Des Beechey's "Interesting Shell Number 9". Michael Keats commenced his series of articles in February 1993 with "Literature on Marine Molluscs - Where To Go And Find It". In October 1993 41 copies of the newsletter were being produced with a conservative estimate of the readership being 65. November 1993 saw Michael Keats' first article dealing with the status of molluscan marine life in Sydney Harbour with "Mortlake Point, Parramatta River". In January 1994 "The Sydney Sheller"became a joint publication of the Conchology Section, Royal Zoological Society of NSW and the NSW Branch of the Malacological Society of Australasia. Subscriptions were introduced for non members. February 1994 saw the introduction of regular colour photographs. In May 1994 photographs of the fossil Umbilia gastroplax (McCoy, 1875) were featured. In February 1995 "The Sydney Sheller"changed to the present A3 format. In April 1995 a special issue was produced dedicated to Shark Island Sydney Harbour. On 1st January 1996 the club parted company with RZS of NSW with the newsletter becoming the publication of the NSW Branch of the MSA. In February 1996 a special issue was produced in recognition and appreciation of the works of Miss Gertrude Thornley. In October 1996 subscriptions to the newsletter were discontinued and receipt of magazine was dependant on the payment of a Branch Fee. The January/February 1997 edition of "The Sydney Sheller" was a special edition to acknowledge Francis McCamley's outstanding dedication to Conchology in Australia. Currently forty five copies are produced and sent to most shell clubs in Australia, the Australian Museum, various gratis recipients and issued to club members.

THANKS. The work has been a great pleasure and a huge learning process for someone who had little interest in sea shells. It was an honour to edit the special edition for Francis McCamley. Frank worked so hard for the club over so many years. Another enjoyment was the production of the special issue for Gertrude Thornley - she had such love of shells and an incredible talent for passing on information about them. I thank those who gave me the encouragement over the years to continue with "The Sydney Sheller" especially Kevin Lamprell, Michael Keats and Elizabeth Woodhouse. Throughout my term as Editor, the supply of good quality articles made the production of newsletter an easy job. For their articles I thank the main contributors Michael Keats, Patty Jansen, Ulrich Knodel and Michael Shea. For all the folk who contributed I thank you. For theMinutes of each meeting I thank Gary Sutherland, Chris Barnes and Karen Wadwell. A special thanks to Patty Jansen for the use of her fine illustrations of Sydney shells on the covers of most newsletters. Thanks to Michael Keats and Trudy Robinson for their work on the photocopier.

THE FUTURE. One would hope that "The Sydney Sheller" could continue as a monthly presentation to keep members who cannot attend meetings fully informed of Club activities. Up-to-date information, in advance, needs to be provided by the Programme Committee and Field Trip Organizers. The Minutes of the monthly meetings should continue to be published or alternatively an accurate and comprehensive "Club News" column produced by the Secretary or President would perhaps be more interesting. The new editor could make his or her task easier if access to a document scanning computer was available. Production expenses could be saved if photographs were only reproduced if the subjects were new to science or rare. The editor's task would be simplified if someone else was responsible for the distribution of the newsletter. In any case all this will be up to the new Editor!"

Not only a new editor, but also an entirely new format greeted members when the July 1998 edition of the Sydney Sheller was published. Dr. Patty Jansen continued with her wonderful illustrations up until the January 1999 edition. This edition also ended the era of printing in black and white.

Commencing with the March 1999 edition the words "The Sydney Sheller" appeared in bold red colour across the front page. Not only had the colour format lasted but the editor has developed the technique of printing a picture of a beautiful shell as an eye-catcher on the right-hand side of the front page. 

This Anniversary Edition includes pictures from the front covers of various issues

Since taking over as editor in July 1998 Mr. Steve Dean has continued to make a real contribution in defining members' needs and in publishing material not only of interest but also of such a nature that it assists readers in their research endeavours.

www.sydneyshellclub.net | Copyright Sydney Shell Collectors Club Inc | secretary@sydneyshellclub.net