She sells sea shells

On our brief trip to the West Coast, we visited the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum in Sanibel. They have a really amazing shell collection, and so much information on each one. Fortunately photos were permitted, so I got a few shots of some the pretty things that have been created using shells.


I thought his Victorian decorative screen was particularly beautiful.


Here is a gallery of some of the smaller artefacts. (Click to enlarge and see more detail.)

Disappointingly, there wasn’t anything I wanted to buy in the shop there, but on our way to Captiva, I saw a shop called ‘She Sells Sea Shells’, and bought this rather lovely Conch shell as a souvenir to take home.


There were quite a few of the exhibits I wouldn’t have minded bringing back with me as well, especially those Paua shell eggs. Which was your favourite?


78 comments on “She sells sea shells

  1. It’s an amazing collection … That flower arrangement is fabulous. We were lucky to visit Sanibel some years back … I found the history interesting, shells as money tokens, or value as dowry. We were there when an elderly West African lady examined the exhibit of ‘dowry’ bags, and was explaining the custom to a young relative, maybe a great grand daughter – and her worth as a bride in shells. Living history, so far removed from our notion of wealth today.

  2. Wow, these are truly beautiful.
    I remember as kids we decorated a few Maxwell House coffee jars with shells we got from
    a beach in North Wales …. but not quite as posh as these – works of art.

  3. Now we all know what to do with our collections Sylvia ! I think I might be a few varieties missing to make a decorative table top … and I’m not sure about my carving skills on my conch shell find 😀
    You always find such interesting places to tell us about … and lovely photos !

  4. We were just on Sanibel last week but didn’t stop at the shell museum. We went on the drive through the Ding Darling Wildlife Preserve, then had a piece of cake at the Bubble Room on Captiva. By the time we were driving back, we were really tired of the traffic and wanting to get home. Thanks for showing me what we missed. 🙂

  5. Oh how lovely. Of all the years we have lived close to Sanibel, we haven’t been to the Bailey Shell Museum. Now, I must go. I think those eggs are priceless. To avoid the traffic, we usually take our boat over to Sanibel, around the bend from the lighthouse, anchor and swim. Collecting shells is a paradise there. So glad you shared this.

  6. That conch shell is beautiful. When we lived in a sticks and bricks home, I had a powder room accented with shells from San Diego. Hmm, I’m kind of missing it now. Creative ideas!

  7. They are just lovely pieces. 🙂 What creativity! I loved looking up close in your photos and seeing the individual shells. The composites are beautiful, but to even have even one shell to sit on a shelf would be wonderful.

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