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The letter in ATG No 2261 in October 2016, asking about shell engraver CH Wood.

CH Wood was indeed a prolific engraver of shells in the mid-19th century. He is especially noted for the superb scrimshaw work done with nothing but ‘a simple penknife’ on pearly nautilus shells which he displayed at the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park and at the 1862 Great International Exhibition. One of these nautilus shells was presented to Queen Victoria.

I included some of his work in my recent book Nautilus: Beautiful Survivor. The unique quality of his work on nautilus shells has acquired almost legendary status, as reflected by sales results reported in ATG.

The shells in ATG No 2261 are not nautilus but rather turbo shells which Wood and others engraved.

The nautilus is the chambered shell of a cephalopod (relatives of octopus and squid) while turbo is the shell of a gastropod or sea snail.

This is a common mistake. A carved 17th century turbo shell is listed in a current catalogue by a well-known auction house as a ‘nautilus’ shell.

Turbo shells were more easily available to Wood than the rare and expensive pearly nautilus shells.

Wolfgang Grulke

Oborne, Dorset