Juliana Emma Linter (1844-1909)

Miss Juliana Emma Linter was born in Teignmouth to a well-known musical family. At an early age she went to study in London and was a regular reader at the British Museum. Later she made a collection of land-snail shells that is outstanding in its breadth and quality.

Miss Linter’s shell collection

Miss Linter started her collecting in the 1880s. She also bought collections from Mr Theobald and Colonel Skinner. Skinner’s collection had many specimens belonging to the order Helices (Miss Linter’s favourite order of molluscs) as well as rare specimens from Mr Wollaston’s collection.

Shells come to RAMM

She wrote frequently to the shell experts of the day. Some described her as a shell dealer. Several species are extinct or under serious threat of extinction in the wild today. In communications with a curator at Exeter Museum in 1902 she described herself and her collections as follows:

‘For many years I have been collecting exotic land shells, in fact, my collection is about as complete as it can well be, and I have spared no expense or labour in making it and keeping it up to date, by securing representatives in the finest condition of all new species found and described.’

Letter From Miss Linter to F. R. Rowley, 29 July 1902
Colour photograph taken at an angle of rows of glass-topped boxes containing Hawaiian tree snail shells from Miss Linter's collection.

Miss Linter died at home in Twickenham on 30 August 1909. Miss Florence Jewel (her executor and fellow conchologist) wrote to RAMM to donate Linter’s collection of 15,000 specimens. She said that Miss Linter wanted her collection to be available to the public.

Her wishes were duly followed and some of her many specimens are on display in RAMM’s Finders Keepers? gallery while the rest is held in More in Store. Her collection of fossils is also at the Museum. Some can be browsed on Collections Explorer.

New research published in 2019

Miss Linter’s collection is of considerable significance. For a long time researchers thought it was sold after her death and lost to science. At the start of 2019 RAMM’s Natural Science Curator and colleagues at National Museum Wales and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences published an introductory paper on the scope and importance of the collection and the fascinating lady behind it. The article is free to access.

You may also like: