Collecting Seashells

The hobby of collecting seashells has been going on since the days of cavemen. People were familiar with shellfish as food, and also noticed their delicately sculpted and decorated shells.

Anthropologists have identified beads made from shells, at least 100,000 years ago in North Africa and Israel, as some of the earliest known physical evidence of modern human culture.

Since ancient times, various peoples have used shells not just as ornaments, but also as tools, oil lamps, currency, cooking utensils, boat bailers, musical instruments and buttons, among other things.

Marine snails were the source of the precious purple dye, painstakingly collected one drop at a time, that became the symbolic color of royalty.
Shells may also have served as models for the spiral shape on the capital of the Ionic column in classical Greece and for Leonardo da Vinci’s design for a spiral staircase in a French chateau.

As a matter of fact, shells inspired an entire French art movement known as “Rococo”, a word blending the French ‘rocaille’, (the practice of covering walls with shells and rocks) and the Italian “Baroque”. Its architects and designers favored shell-like curves and other intricate motifs.

Seashells are one of nature’s works of art that have facinated and assisted people since their beginnings.