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Collecting seashells on the beaches of Sanibel, Captiva and the world

Gold Banded Cone Saga Continues

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in Gold-banded Cone | 30 comments

true gold banded alphabet cone

This is truly a GOLD-BANDED CONE. There was lots of controversy over this CONE shell on last week’s post Gold-Banded Cone Found On Sanibel Island and ever since that post, the saga has continued…

true gold banded alphabet cone Conus spurius atlanticus

From the moment Clark and I saw the photo of Clair’s three GOLD BANDED CONES (GBCs), we knew we needed to look through our collection again. Remember I said… “I think it time to go looking through all of our CONES just to make sure we didn’t overlooked one”? Well Clark got it done. He sat out on our back porch (on our very funky yard sale couch) and sorted through bin after bin of CONES that we’ve picked up over the years which just got stock piled in our Shellaboratory.

clark sorting alphabet cone shells

We try to keep the perfect specimen type ALPHABET CONE shells inside the house displayed in a bowl…

bowl of alphabet cone soup

But the ones in the Shellaboratory are from days shelling we didn’t have time to sort because we had to run back out to some type of appointment or obligation. But lots of the shells were ones that had chips with broken lips and tips. Aint that a trip?  (sorry…I couldn’t resist)

damaged alphabet cones

We try to give most of our shells away and only collect different color variations or unusual ones but still…  the shells stack up. We try to put the really special shells to the side when we find them… but life happens. The good news is, Clark was on a mission.

alphabet cones from sw florida

Then low and behold… a GOLD BANDED CONE! Holy Cowrie! Clark knew he had found one! Shellzam!

true gold banded alphabet cone

After looking at so many variations of CONES in the shell sorting mission, let me show you how closely some of the CONES look alike. In the next photo, the far left is a FLORIDA CONE that looks like a smaller version of the ALPHABET CONE second from the left but the FLORIDA CONE has the tall and wide spire (tip) compared to the smooshed in ALPHABET spire. You can see spots on that same ALPHABET (second to the left) but the GOLD BANDED CONE (which is a rare color form of the ALPHABET CONE) has stripes instead of the spots – that’s what makes it different. So now back to comparing the GOLD BANDED CONE with the FLORIDA CONE on the far right. You can definitely see stripes on the FLORIDA CONE but it just looks like a darker version until you look at the spire again- yep, much taller and wider spire.

Like our friend Mary McBride said about the GBC- it looks like an alphabet when the printer ran out of ink”. LOL 

difference between alphabet, gold banded cone and florida cone

While sorting, Clark set aside some of his favorites. This photo really doesn’t do these alphies as much justice as they deserve but each one of these CONES has a remarkable pattern and/or color. Each are the same species but with different color forms caused by either food source or environmental like temperature changes, repairing damage, getting transported in a storm or countless other theories. It’s really what makes shell collecting so mind blowing.

alphabet cone patterns Conus spurius atlanticusv

Now we have our GBC in a little case that sits in the bowl with the other ALPHABETS just to make sure it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. We took it in to see Larry at and they immediately gave Clark this box with cotton to keep it safe- thank you Gary! We rarely encase shells because we enjoy the raw beauty of them too much but for right now this one feels way too special. It is  staying in the box. We still can’t believe we have it.

special gold banded cone in a box with other alphabet cones

But of course I had to take it out of the box to get one last photo with all of the ALPHABETS together. OMG I love how it looks! All of those colors and spots and dots!

colorful alphabet cones

FYI- I made the photo above into a small puzzle for a gift to a friend of mine. Just in case you want one too, CLICK HERE. (for a larger puzzle CLICK HERE) . This next photo is the bowl that is going IN the house. These are too nice for the Shellaboratory!

color forms alphabet cones Conus spurius atlanticus

Let me preface this with… This next GOLD-BANDED CONE is not ours. This photo came from a friend (wants to be anonymous) that wanted to show this specimen so we could have another example for identification purposes. Un-be-liev-able right? The rich, dark gold stripes are magnificent!

gold banded cone SNKv

After seeing all of these ALPHABET CONES, GOLD BANDED CONES and even comparisons with FLORIDA CONES mixed all together, we are never going to toss “special” shells into a batch of ordinary shells we collect from the beach…. errrrr but wait… they are ALL “special”! Each one has it’s own unique pattern and color! Ack! How can we decide? Maybe less is more? Humph… It’s too much to think about. As Scarlett Ohara said “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.

shelling adventures trips by pam

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Gold-Banded Cone Found On Sanibel Island

Posted by on Jun 10, 2014 in Gold-banded Cone, Junonia, Oak Cone | 26 comments

Lindaconus spurius aureofasciatus gold banded cone

Whoa! Have you ever seen a GOLD-BANDED CONE (Lindaconus spurious aureofasciatus)? It’s a VERY rare CONE found in SW Florida that neither Clark nor I have ever been fortunate enough to find….yet.  It’s not actually a different CONE species found locally but it’s a FREAK color form or “a rare abnormality” of the ALPHABET CONE (Conus spurious). Yep, it’s a freak alphie!

Lindaconus spurius aureofasciatus gold banded cone aperture

You can see here from left to right… a FLORIDA CONE, the GOLD-BANDED CONE* and the ALPHABET CONE. See how tall the spire (the tip) is on the FLORIDA CONE compared to the other two? (Update! Please see below for correct identification of this middle cone)

Florida Cone Gold-Banded Cone Alphabet Cone

I am sooooo happy for Jordyn from Georgia! She found this fabshellous GOLD-BANDED CONE* last year June 1, 2013 on the Sanibel side of Blind Pass but didn’t know exactly what she had.

Jordyn found a gold-banded cone Sanibel Island Florida
Jordyn and her parents Danny and Lisa went back home to Georgia and did extensive research to find out what kind of shell this was since it didn’t quite look exactly like a FLORIDA CONE and it didn’t have the spots of an ALPHABET CONE.  They finally found the book The Sanibel kaleidoscope: A view of seashell variations in color, pattern, and structure which has photos of the GOLD-BANDED CONE and describes this very rare shell so it was their best guess that’s what they had. They knew they would be coming back to vacation on Sanibel this year (as they do each year), so they brought the CONE with them this week to get it identified. 
danny lisa jordyn georgia junonia gold banded cone

Clark and I walked the beach at Gulfside City Park during low tide last evening and just happened to run into Danny. OMG I was so excited that he had just found a JUNONIA on the beach in front of Sanddollar Condos. This is a very lucky family!

Danny found a junonia on Sanibel Island Florida

This is how I learned about Jordyn’s CONE… right after Danny told me about the JUNONIA, he told me about the GOLD-BANDED CONE that Jordyn found last year. I just about came out of my skin when he told me they brought the shell back to Sanibel and he could show it to me. I was thrilled when they ran up to their rental unit to get it. Yowza! It sure looks like a variation to me since I remembered seeing a similar shell in that same Harlan Wittkopt book The Sanibel kaleidoscope (I love that book too!). After taking photos of her shell, I went home to do research as well.

gold banded alphabet cone

When I saw more photos of various types of GOLD-BANDED CONES on and after looking at the 4th photo down on this page CLICK HERE , I was pretty convinced that, yes, it was this rare shell indeed.  The funny thing is… if you noticed above that I put a  *  behind the identification of the GOLD-BANDED CONE since the jury is still debating whether in fact that it is truly a GOLD-BANDED CONE or not. MurexKen, Larry Strange, Dr Leal and a few other shell buddies have mixed reviews. Half say “Yes” it is and half can’t give it a positive I.D. of GOLD-BANDED to this CONE. That’s what makes this so dang fun and interesting! There are hundreds of different CONE species around the world so it’s really hard to know when it is this “rare” because it might be confused by a shell from the Philippines (for example) which got placed on our beach because perhaps it was bought for a decoration for a beach party. Sooooo, since I’m not a scientist and I’m not going to look into the DNA of this shell, in my book…. it’s a GOLD-BANDED CONE (oh well, it’s not a Gold-Banded Cone LOL- See below). I’ve been looking for one of these shells for years!

aperture of gold-banded cone Sanibel

I’m incredibly happy for Jordyn and her family so if there was any time to say “Shellzam!” this would be it!

So here goes…. SHELLZAM!

Congratshellations to this beautiful and extremely awesome family.

danny lisa jordyn georgia junonia gold banded cone

PS- I think it time to go looking through all of our CONES just to make sure we didn’t overlook one of the lighter banded ones shown on Gastropods photos 3, 5, 7 and 8 . If you find one, let us know here in the comments or on iLoveShelling Facebook– it’ll be fun to see how rare they really are!

UPDATE: JUNE 6, 2014 1:09 PM EST-

It has been absolutely amazing how many conversations I’ve had with different folks around the world about this CONE shell. The good news is… I have one photo of three… I said THREE… (yes!… 3) GOLD-BANDED CONES so we can compare Jordyn’s shell. This next photo is just three out of the four GOLD-BANDED CONES that my lucky friend Clair has found over the years. Clair took this photo and graciously let me use it on this post. Holy Cowrie, Batman! Thank you Clair! Her fourth shell is pictured in Harlan Wittkopt’s book (I mentioned above). She is Clairly The Cone Goddess…gold-banded cones


So this brings us back to the question… Is Jordyn’s CONE truly a GOLD-BANDED CONE? I had *ed the  ID because there was already some controversy even after I asked some other long time shellers and experts. Yesterday, while visiting Larry’s shop (on the corner of Periwinkle and Fitzhugh on Sanibel) I snapped a few pictures with my iPhone of an INDO-PACIFIC shell that also looked like Jordyn’s shell. Notice that the price is only $1, Which that normally means its a pretty common shell on the other side of the planet.Conus quercinus oak cone indo pacific


Then I looked at the apex (the tip of the spire) and saw that it was brownish like Jordyn’s. I know that judging a shell by it’s color isn’t the best way to ID a shell but it sure does make you wanna say Hmmmmm. Now that Susan H and David Carroll thought that Jordyn’s CONE was a OAK CONE (Conus quercinus), this may very well be the shell I photographed with my iPhone yesterday.

apex spire Conus quercinus oak cone indo pacific

So I think this might be a real buzz-kill for lots of us that were hoping JORDYN found a GOLD-BANDED CONE, but I think the jury is coming to a solid conclusion. After seeing Clair’s photo, the links Susan and David provided and seeing the shell I saw yesterday with a $1 sticker on it, I believe now that Jordyn’s shell is an OAK CONE from the Indo-Pacific area… which I call a “Wedding Shell”. It probably came in a bag of shells someone bought for a beach wedding for decoration then got washed out with the tide then washed back in for Jordyn to find. Even so! This is such a wonderful, positive conversation with folks around the world who all love shells and shelling and we can all learn together about what washes up on our shores in SW Florida and the world. gold-banded cones


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