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Library displays Victorian shell treasures, shell collection

By Staff | Feb 28, 2019

PHOTO PROVIDED Sanibel shell enthusiast and collector Jeffrey Oths with Elsie Malone’s shell collection.

Sanibel shell aficionado Jeffrey Oths is currently displaying nearly 100 pieces from his Victorian antique shell art collection in the main entrance lobby of the Sanibel Public Library.

Elsie Malone’s shell collection was in storage during the renovation, and is now back on display in the main entrance. Her large collection of Florida and Caribbean shells include many rare specimens.

Oths has worked to arrange the collection to allow for better viewing.

“The importance of Elsie M. Malone’s donation of her mother’s collection cannot be overstated. For me, the nicest thing is allowing thousands of library visitors to enjoy her lifetime of collecting,” he said. “I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the restoration as others have previously. In addition, the newly-renovated lobby has more display space, allowing me to exhibit some of my antique mother-of-pearl pieces.”

Oths moved to Sanibel in 2003 but was a shell collector for more than 30 years before living on the island. He is past president of the Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club and past chair of the annual shell festival. An avid sheller, Oths has found some rare specimens, including the long spined star shell, which had never previously been documented on Sanibel. His display includes antique shell-encrusted items like a Victorian shoe, dioramas, pincushions, mother-of-pearl opera glasses, carved cameos, thimble-holders and postcard box.

PHOTO PROVIDED Part of Jeffrey Oths' collection of Victorian shell treasures.

Goz Gosselin’s award-winning 3-foot-tall floral arrangement, “Millenium Shellabration,” is also back on display at the library, near the Book Sale Room.

The Sanibel Public Library is open Mondays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Sundays.

For more information, call 239-472-2483 or visit online at www.sanlib.org.

The Sanibel Public Library is at 770 Dunlop Road.