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Tuatara: Volume 13, Issue 3, November 1965



The Real Purpose of this little book is not readily apparent. It is not claimed to be an exhaustive survey of molluscs from the Bay of Plenty, nor has it much scientific value in itself. The ‘Introduction’ expresses the hope that it may serve as an encouragement to other shell collectors, and that the drawings in themselves are worthy of reproduction. Both aims may be valid but the volume seems designed largely as a memorial to the late E. Gordon Williams, the elaborate binding for a book of this size and the limited edition (500 copies) enforcing this view. The present reviewer prefers to consider it in this light.

Mr. Williams was a Hawkes Bay farmer who retired to Mt. Maunganui in 1947 at the age of 67. Here he discovered an aptitude for detailed observation of marine life, particularly the molluscs, and developed a very real talent for accurately drawing molluscs from fish stomachs, and by this means collected many rare species and discovered a considerable number of new forms. He died in 1962 at the age of 82.

There can be few better examples of a person living a full normal productive life without realising that he possessed definite scientific abilities. The wonder is that after he retired Mr. Williams was able to develop these latent talents to such a marked degree.

His scientific memorial exists in the collection he formed, now in the Auckland Museum and in the new species already described from it by Dr. A. W. B. Powell. The present book compiled by Mrs. N. M. Grimmond is a more general memorial. In presenting 98 of his delightful drawings and a series of his careful observations it brings this man's accomplishments to a wider audience. May it serve to remind us all that unrecognised talents may lie deep in any of us, and that it is never too late to develop them.

It seems a pity that in a volume of this type so many misprints should occur.

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