Niccolò Gualtieri’s splendid seashells

Niccolò Gualtieri (1688-1744) was a conchologist and a malacologist – scientific terms that refer to two specific fields within zoology, specifically devoted to studying seashells and mollusks, respectively.

In 1742, the Florentine scientist – who was also the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III’s doctor, professor at the University of Pisa and founder of the Florentine Botanical Society – published his “Index Testarum Conchyliorum, quae adservantur in Museo Nicolai Gualtieri”. The volume was illustrated by Giuseppe Menabuoni and Antonio Pazzi with beautiful copper engravings of 110 samples of shells, belonging to Gualtieri’s extremely rich collection.

The 700 specimens of that collection – part of which of are now preserved in the Museum of Natural History of the University of Pisa – were extremely useful to Swedish naturalist Linnaeus, the most important scientist of the modern age to focus on the classification of living organisms.

Here is a small selection of images from Gualtieri’s book.


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