HomeHow to use this Catalogue

How to use this Catalogue

About pages

Listed at left, there are several supplementary About pages for you to make sense of this database. About this Catalogue is a good starting place, where I describe the scope of this project and why I am sharing it, as well as explain some of the terms and challenges I faced, and my call for contributions and contact information. About Nautilus Shells and Mounts gets into more detail about the material (shell and metal) these objects are made from, the techniques of their making, and defines the terms I use for medium (which align with the tags). Bibliography is the full entries of works I've cited throughout the site in abbreviated form. How to use this Catalogue is a guide to how the site is organized and how you can find your way in. If you have any feedback on any of these sections, and how I can make them clearer and more user-friendly, please be in touch!


Each mounted and/or decorated nautilus is included in this database as an "Item," with a title, identifier (unique catalogue number), a subject for both mount and shell, a creator for both mount and shell, a date for both mount and shell, the source of the object (who owns it, what collection/museum it is in), the source of the image, rights to the image, an image file, and tags. If you click on the square thumbnail image, you can see the full size image. There are three ways to dive into the collection. Click on Browse Items at the left to access them all, and choose Browse All, Browse by Tag, or Search Items at the top.

Browse All will give you a list of all the items in the catalogue, with ten items per page, each with an abbreviated entry and an image. At top right, you can sort these by Title (not particularly useful as the titles are pretty generic), Creator (also not very useful as most are anonymous and you can't see this in the abbreviated entry), or Date Added (again, not very useful as I am batch uploading the items). You can click on any title or image to see the full entry.

Browse by Tag brings up a word cloud of all the tags applied to each item. The majority of these are descriptions of the object medium, always indicating Shell or Mount, and then the material or technique. Most items have more than one tag, so for instance one item might be tagged Shell: stripped; Shell: engraved; Mount: gilded silver. The word cloud scales the tags by how many times they are used in the database, so you can see the most popular media descriptions by size. Additional tags of interest are Seeking image and Seeking information - this indicates which objects I'm most eagerly seeking user contributions for. You can click on any of the tags to produce a list of items with abbreviated entry that have that feature. If you'd like to pull up all the engraved shells, this is your best bet. I'm considering adding tags for date ranges, so you could, for instance, call up all the 17th century items, but I'm worried the tag word cloud will become unweildy.

Search Items is a text search of each item entry. You can enter text in the Search for Keywords field at top and return a list of items that contain that text. You can also perform a more specific search with Narrow by Specific Fields. Perhaps you're interested in seeing all the nautilus objects at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. If you search 'Vienna' in the Keywords field, you will pull up objects that are currently in Vienna and that were made in Vienna. You'll find a more relevant list if you Narrow by Specific Field to Source and then type Vienna. You can familiarize yourself with what type of information is in each field by browsing some full item records. The other Search by X fields below will be less useful to you.


Coming soon! Collections will be sets of items grouped together by my attribution, based on context and stylistic assessment, to different groups of artists. I have been working on a research question: Did Asian (most likely Chinese) artists decorate shells for export to Europe, or did European artists decorate shells in Asian styles (subject and stylistic imitation and what would come to be known as Orientalism, or European imagining of Asian styles)? I am not ready to offer conclusions yet, and this database is a piece of my method to answer this question.