History of the COA Logo

The history of the COA Logo Shell is varied and, at times, shrouded with as much mystery as the design itself. The original logo, back in 1972 when COA was founded, was a Queen Conch, Strombus gigas, drawn by then-President Bette Rachlin's husband. This logo never appeared on a COA Bulletin (forerunner of American Conchologist). So many other groups were using this shell as their emblem that COA decided to design a new logo. They wanted a shell that would show no geographical attachment.

Although South Florida collector and artist Gary Magnotte was mistakenly credited with the new design for a time, it was Broward (Florida) Shell Club member Richard Sedlak who actually created the prototype of the shell that would take COA through the end of the 20th century. It has been assumed that this shell, a Neptunea, was originally selected because of its association with Rhode Island, the home of COA founder John Paduano and site of the first COA convention. But Richard Sedlak deliberately created a loosely defined Neptunea so that it would not have specific geographical associations. The genus, named for Neptune, Roman God of the Sea, is also a particularly appropriate choice for a group of shell collectors.

The shell resembles Neptunea lyrata decemcostata (Say, 1826), the Ten-Ridged Whelk from the western Atlantic off Nova Scotia to off North Carolina. It also looks a lot like Neptunea lyrata lyrata (Gmelin, 1791) from the Arctic Ocean to off northern California. And like Neptunea despecta (Linne', 1758) from northern Europe to Maine. And like another whelk from Japan. But it's none of the above. Or all of the above. That is, in fact, what it is . . .all of them, a representative uni-Neptune, or as Rich Goldberg put it, back in the March 1981 issue of the COA Bulletin, Neptunea sp. (nondescriptus?).

The Logo Shell first appeared on the masthead of COA Bulletin #6, back in 1975, when Frank Nelson was editor. Issues 6 through 9 featured the familiar ridged shell in the upper rBulletin,corner of the front page. Tom Rice took over the editorship from Frank Nelson in 1977 and the Logo Shell dropped from view until June 1979 when Rich Goldberg became editor. Rich put it back on page one in a redesigned format: his brother Marc created a new logo, with the Neptunea inside a big letter C. It remained there on the front page until editors Charlie Glass and Bob Foster revamped the magazine in 1983 and moved the masthead, with logo and the little Neptunea, to its new position on page two.

In 1995, a contest was held to choose a new design for the COA logo. During the convention that year, COA members chose a design by John Timmerman (jtntrosey@aol.com), an artist and COA member from North Carolina Shell Club. This design, the pinwheel of overlapping Neptunea shells, incorporates the historic COA emblem, the little Neptunea sp. The new logo was featured on the cover of the September 1995 issue of American Conchologist.

John says, "I created the COA design logo with a series of thumb nail sketches and decisions concerning balance. I arrived at the final design in several ways. When using shells in art my challenge is for the design to stand on its own, yet not lose the shell in the pattern. At first glance this is a geometric design, yet the individual Neptunes are soon recognizable. The spires of the shells create a starburst in the negative space at the center, and the spiral cords, when combined, create a spiraling pinwheel effect. Positioning the shells with the siphonal canals aimed toward the center lost these key design features. I chose nine shells for an aesthetic balance. Even numbers created hexagon or octagon shapes which distracted from the other elements of the design. Seven made the individual shells too easily recognizable, losing the impact of the design, and more than nine made recognition difficult."

Thus the COA logo has taken on a new form while still remaining true to its historic past. COA as an organization is also reaching out in new and diverse ways yet remaining true to its historic past.

The above information was taken from back issues of the COA Bulletin,
the December 1991 issue of the American Conchologist, and personal correspondence with the artist.