I am truly shocked and amazed to find this vintage collection of Florida seashells still in their original basket with the original clear shrink wrapping and with the original stickers on the bottom. It is these elements that makes this shell collection a very unique find, and I'll be happy to explain.
I've been collecting seashells for over 50 yrs and for the past 30 yrs I've been a malacologist and hold a few world records. I was a professional scuba diver for 20 yrs so it's fair to reason, I've seen my share of live shells.
This large basket of well-preserved Florida seashells dates from the 1960-1970 era. This is determined by the font and types of stickers on the bottom, and the price of the basket when it was new. It was just $ 5.99 for this whole basket of shells. Even in the 1970s, I don't recall anywhere in FL that sold a basket like this for a price that low!
But, here's that cliff hanger. I always thought shell shop owners in Fl back then, bought the baskets from the Philippines and filled the baskets in their shop with local seashells. But it was totally the other way around as the Philippine sticker, signed with an ink pen with the stock number, is on the outside of the original clear wrap! This means in areas like Sanibel, big time shell collectors were harvesting from the beach, shipping to the Philippines, and the Philippines were selling Florida seashells back to Florida! At a profit!
I have not opened this basket and the shrink wrap is so thick and clear, Im amazed it has lasted all this time. Its like some type of bullet proof plastic! As far as I can see, every shell in the basket is a Florida seashell. There are probably about 50 shells in the basket. Do you have the heart to open it? I dont ! It is like a perfectly preserved time capsule over 40 years old!
All of the shells appear to be relatively perfect specimens as well. The open weave wicker basket is 7 " wide and about 4" tall to the top of the shells. It weighs just shy of 2 lbs. For any serious collector, this is a unique treasure with the original stickers intact that all shell collectors will marvel over. And, they gave this collection a name. This was the Joyce collection!
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