Rare American Malacological Classic Now Available

By Harry G. Lee

    The original descriptions of 105 species in 44 genera of mollusks from the Neogene of Virginia appeared in a short paper by Henry Charles Lea (Lea, 1843a). This rare and obscure private publication is now posted to this website at leah.pdf (6.1 mbs.). The provision of the resource has an interesting history. We received the PDF file from Pat LaFollette, Research Associate in Malacology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (LACM), who noticed the title in the "Donations to the Library" of the American Philosophical Society (APS), Philadelphia (Anon, 1846: 405 <http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/91591#page/421/mode/1up>). After trying in vain to contact the APS librarian, he turned to Richard Hulser, LACM librarian, who tracked down two copies at the University of Pennsylvania (UP). Yet it took a phone call by Pat to the latter institution's archivist, John Pollack to move the needle. John responded by personally creating a PDF file and sending it on. Several months later, the reproduction department at the UP Library forwarded Pat the copy we present here; Pat's earlier inquiry was lost in the Christmas/holiday email traffic.

    Another version of the topical report was read to the American Philosophical Society on May 30, 1843 by Professor James Curtis Booth on Mr. Lea's behalf, and an abstract of it (Lea, 1843b) appeared some time later that year. Two new genus-level taxa, Aligena and Petaloconchus, were described in this shorter report, but all 105 species-level taxa were nomina nuda, listed as names only.

    A greater elaboration of these new taxa, with the addition of English descriptions and figures of all, appeared a few years later (H.C. Lea, 1845, 1846). These latter works appear to be identical, differing only in pagination and publisher. Campbell (1993: 65, 116-117) states that the 1845 version is a "preprint" of the later publication. This sequence is reported elsewhere (Martin, 1904: 170-171; see below). We can only speculate as to the reason for the recurring redundancies in this bibliography, but two facts are well established: (1) Members of the Lea family were directly involved with the presses that printed much of the natural history in mid-Nineteenth Century Philadelphia, and (2) their abiding competition with, and enmity toward, fellow Philadelphia malacologist Timothy Abbott Conrad often influenced their scientific works. Impatience with the publication policy of the APS and the rush for nomenclatorial priority driven by the mihi itch may have been motivational in this scenario.

    Although these works ostensibly dealt exclusively with fossils, neontologists should know that at least six of these 105 new species are thought, at least by some, to persist in the Holocene fauna, e.g., Lee (2009),  Rosenberg (2009), Rubio et al. (2011), and this website (passim; search function at bottom of landing page):

  • Panopea dubia H.C. Lea, 1843 [Sphenia dubia]
  • Actaeon globosus H.C. Lea, 1843 [Iselica globosa]; see pp. 3-5 at <http://www.jaxshells.org/pdfs/mayjun15.pdf>.
  • Pyramidella suturalis H.C. Lea, 1843 [Longchaeus]; see <http://www.jaxshells.org/0310uu.htm>.
  • Rotella carinata H.C. Lea, 1843 non d'Orbigny, 1842, the latter a nomen dubium fide Moore, 1964 [? Vitrinella]
  • Rotella lenticularis H.C. Lea, 1843 [Teinostoma lenticulare]
  • Rotella umbilicata H.C. Lea, 1843 [Teinostoma umbilicatum]
and a replacement name, Cerithium adamsii, was proposed for the Recent Cerithium terebrale C.B. Adams non Lamarck, 1804 (Lea, 1845: 42 [footnote])

* John also pointed Pat to the finding aid for the H. C. Lea archive at UP, which includes a lengthy and very informative biographical sketch of H. C. Lea as well as a list of his papers (boxes 174-175 contain malacological works)
<http://dla.library.upenn.edu/dla/ead/ead.html?q=henry%20charles%20lea&id=EAD_upenn_rbml_MsColl111>. Malacological papers of interest are not in boxes but in bound collections of separates here:
U. Penn. call no. s-35.1.9 (4th paper in volume)
U. Penn. call no. s-35.1.18 (5th paper in volume)

Anon, 1846. Donations to the Library. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 9: [381]-412.
<http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/91591#page/397/mode/1up>

Campbell, L.D., 1993. Pliocene mollusks from the Yorktown and Chowan River Formations in Virginia. Virginia Division of Mineral Resources Publication 127: 1-259.

Lea, H.C., [1843a]. Abstract of  a paper read before the American Philosophical Society, May 29th, 1843, entitled "Descriptions of some new fossil shells, from the Tertiary of Petersburg, Virginia." [Author, Philadelphia]. pp 1-12  19 October [date fide Martin, 1904: footnote pp. 170-171 figured above.]

Lea, H.C., 1843b. Description of some new fossil shells from the Tertiary of Virginia [abstract]. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 3: 162-165. <http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/86861#page/170/mode/1up>

Lea, H.C., [1845]. New Fossil Shells from the Tertiary of Petersburg, Va. Author, Philadelphia. [1]-48 + pls. 34-37 < <http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/70706#page/9/mode/1up> [date fide Maryland Geological Survey, 1904: footnote pp. 170-171]

Lea, H.C., 1846. New Fossil Shells from the Tertiary of Petersburg, Va. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society new series 9: 229-274 < http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/91591#page/241/mode/1up>, pls. 34-37. <http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/91591#page/496/mode/1up>

Lee, H.G., 2009. Marine Shells of Northeast Florida. Jacksonville Shell Club, Inc. 204 pp. + 19 color plates. 28 May.

Martin, G.C., 1904. "Systematic paleontology, Miocene. Mollusca." Pp. 130-401, pls. 39-108 in Clark, W.B., G.B. Shattuck, and W.H. Dall [eds.],  Maryland Geological Survey Miocene. [2 vols.] Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore. Vol. 1: [i]-clv + 1 + [1]-548. + 9 pls. Atlas: pls. 10-135, facing pl. explanations. <http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/54881#page/9/mode/1up>

Moore, D.R., 1964. The family Vitrinellidae in south Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. Ph.D. dissertation. University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL. xi + 235 + [2] pp.

Rosenberg, G., 2009. Malacolog 4.1.1: A Database of Western Atlantic Marine Mollusca. Electronic database accessible at:  http://www.malacolog.org/

Rubio, F., R. Fernández-Garcés, and E. Rolán, 2011. The family Tornidae (Gastropoda: Rissooidea) in the Caribbean and neighboring areas. Iberus 29(2): vii + 1-230. December.