The Society’s Logo

Pomacea canaliculata (Lamarck)

The origin of the shell which has appeared in The Society’s publications since their inception was investigated by Professor Alastair Graham FRS, a former President of The Society, who could find no definite reason for its appearance. The drawing is not original. It first appeared in a book by Alcide d’Orbigny in 1835 (plate 50, figure 5, Voyage dans l’Amerique Meridionale, Volume 9, c. 1834-36) and was repeated in S.P. Woodward’s Manual of the Mollusca (1851 and 1875, figure 84). The first President of The Society was Dr Henry Woodward, S.P.’s brother, and Professor Graham wondered if the drawing was originally used simply because a printing block was available, it was the right size and it seemed the right shape to fill what was otherwise an undesirably blank space (to Victorian eyes) on a title page. It seems otherwise very odd to pick a drawing of Pomacea canaliculata, a South American snail, as the emblem of a Society based in London.

Pomacea canaliculata
Pomacea canaliculata

Professor Graham toyed with the idea that, as Pomacea canaliculata is amphibious to a degree, it was meant to symbolise an interest in both terrestrial and aquatic snails, but it is not marine and it arouses no suggestions of interest in other molluscan classes so he concludes that availability of a block, cheapness and convenience underlay its selection. Cheapness, he was sure, appealed then as now – several members are thanked in early accounts of meetings for donations to cover illustrations.

These were also the reasons for picking the drawing of Boreotrophon clathratus which was used on the envelopes in which The Society’s Journal was despatched in the 1970s. It was a drawing by Paul Winther, one of a collection used in the British and Danish Prosobranch Supplements and therefore free. It was an attractive drawing and as a predominantly vertical figure contrasted better with the horizontal printing. That was all that dictated its choice and it may well have been the same with Pomacea.

In 1989, in the build-up to its centenary celebrations, The Society ran a competition for a new logo which could be used on The Society’s publications and promotional items. Seventeen entries were received. The prize was awarded to Dr David Reid for his new drawing of Pomacea canaliculata and provides continuity with the old design. For the new design d’Orbigny’s figure has been redrawn, using a shell and operculum from Lac Pan de Azucar, Maldonado, Uruguay, taken from the d’Orbigny Collection in the Natural History Museum, London.