George Perry

Browse for George Perry seashell engravings


Perry was a noted 19th century English naturalist and author of one of the most important works on conchology. Perry's great work Conchology, or the Natural History of Shells, was published in 1811, and used the process of aquatinting to create dimension and tonal shading. The shells are arranged as if part of a collector's cabinet. The 61 decorative plates were engraved by William Miller, based on original drawings by John Clarke. Perry's remarkable book was criticized during his lifetime for the nomenclature used and the sometimes fantastic shell forms with a bold application of pastel colors. Today however many of the generic and specific names of Perry's work are now widely accepted. It is the only sea shell work illustrated with aquatint engraving. That combined with the fineness of the coloring makes it one of the most visually attractive shell books ever made. Most of the specimens illustrated came from various private museums, among them Elizabeth Bligh's outstanding shell collection, which contained many beautiful and rare examples obtained from the South Seas by her husband, William Bligh of the Bounty. A great many of the specimens are noted as coming from various parts of the Pacific, though there are none identified as having been collected from Hawaii. Twenty-three specimens are from Australia, ten from New Zealand, fifteen from the 'South Seas', two from the Pacific Ocean, and one from Tahiti.