JEFFREYS, John Gwyn (1809-1885)
British Conchology or an Account of the Mollusca which now inhabit the British Isles and the surrounding seas
London: John Van Voorst, 1862-1869. 8vo, 5 vols. (7 9/16 x 5 inches). , 341pp.; , 465; 393; 486; 258pp. With 5 hand-coloured lithographed frontispieces and 142 lithographed plates (including 102 hand-coloured).
Uniformly bound in publisher's brown cloth, spine lettered in gilt.
First edition of this extensive and beautifully-illustrated book on British shells by a noted conchologist.
John Gwyn Jeffreys was born and educated in Swansea, Wales, where he became an apprentice to one of the principal solicitors at the age of seventeen. He worked as a solicitor in Swansea until 1856 when he was called to the bar in London. Outside of his profession, Jeffreys was extremely passionate about conchology and began building his collection as early as ten years old, from shells at Swansea Bay. In 1840, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society and was also Treasurer of the Linnean Society of London and Geological Society of London for many years. After he retired from the law, Jeffreys became one of the pioneers of deep-sea research. In 1866, he continued a series of dredging operations he had started five years prior, during which, accompanied by marine life specialists including Charles William Peach, George Barlee, and Edward Waller, he dredged the seas around the Shetland Islands, the west of Scotland, the English Channel and the Irish Sea. He also went on to take part in several deep-sea expeditions as scientific leader: on the H.M.S. Porcupine in 1869 and 1870, the Valorous expedition to Greenland in 1875, and the French Travailleur expedition in 1880. Among the species first scientifically described by Jeffreys are Rissoella opalina, Cima minima, and Cheirodonta pallescens. "British Conchology" is his best-known work and considered one of the best on the subject. The first volume discusses land and freshwater shells, while the rest deal with marine shells, each describing different families and species. Jeffreys was considered a "leading authority on eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean molluscs, [and] had a remarkably complete collection of shells from British and adjacent seas" (Dance, Shell collecting, p. 217).
Nissen ZBI, 2103; Freeman 1946.