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Shells from the Great War

Time spent in pursuit of order

The study of seashells, le conchologie, was to be an absorbing pasttime for Bertrand Judley (1881-1957) who spent two summers each year collecting specimens all around France. He had inherited a substantial number of specimens through his wife's great-uncle, the renowned naturalist André Étienne d'Audebert de Férussac.

While his wife on many occasions (see Judley letters, volume II, parts IX, X, XI) urged him to leave his growing collection safely at home, like many of his countrymen, he found the allure of the joining the British Army too much. As AJP Taylor has written of the conflict: “It involved a great number of men spending most of the time doing nothing and the remainder performing a role which they were largely ill-suited to.”

While Captain Judley's classificatory arrangements did not find much support from the mollusc-studying community, they provide a very personal insight into collecting practices of the early 20th century.