In common with many people of the Twentieth Century, Major Earle collected bird's eggs as a boy. Although collecting bird's eggs is illegal today, it was an acceptable activity for children to learn about nature. In later years Major Earle broadened his interests to include, minerals, shells and stamps. His shell collection was amassed by exchanging British specimens with collectors and dealers around the world.
His British specimens were usually collected on family holidays to Wales - Milford Haven, St Brides Bay, Tenby, Helston etc., when he would hire a dredge for the day. Most of the shells were exchanged through the Conchological Society in the 1950's and 60's, where he met up with Terry Crowley who had similar interests.
Some shells, especially those from Canada and New Zealand were sent over by relatives. His wife's grandmother who lived in New Zealand was a keen shell collector and was able to add to the collection. Rather than collecting the often more attractive gastropods, Major Earle focused on the bivalves. His collection comprises some 5000 individual shells, representing 1212 different species.
After his death in 1979, Major Earle's shell collection was presented to a school near Winchester, who later passed them on to the Hampshire County Council Museums Service.
The following collectors contributed to Major Earle's collections
Alfred James Peile 1868-1948
A J Peile served in India, Bermuda and South Africa. He was an honorary worker in the Department of Mollusca BM(NH), 1920-40; a member of the Conchological Society from 1921 and President from 1935-37. On the determination of species he was 'most careful and reliable'. He formed a representative collection of land and marine shells from Bermuda and Bombay. His Presidential address to the Malachological Society was entitled 'The Mollusca of Bermuda' (Proceedings of the Malachological Society 17 1926 71-98). Reference: Journal of Conchology vol. 21 23 1948.
Ronald Winkworth 1884-1950
Vice President of the Linnean Society 1945-47. Member of the RGS; Zoological Society; Editor and later President of the Malachological Society. He was one of the foremost authorities of his time on marine molluscs, especially European and from the Indian Ocean. Reference: Journal of Conchology vol. 23 (5) 157
Harold Charles Winkworth 1878-1947
Collected British marine molluscs in 1911. He started his collection of Indian shells in 1924, and also went further afield.
Reverend Dr A H Cooke 1854-1934
His first conchological paper was entitled 'Shells of Guernsey, Sark and Herm' (Journal of Conchology vol. 1, 321). His favourite groups were Thais (purpura) and Clausilia. He was President of the Malachological Society 1913-15, and President of the Conchological Society 1919-20.
Altena Carvel Octavius van Regteren 1907
A keen shell collector, especially of Dutch specimens.
A shell dealer based in Durban, South Africa.