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Conchologia Ingrata

About Richard E. Petit

Richard Eugene Petit (1931-2013; "Dick" to his many friends) was a successful businessman who early on became deeply interested in the history of Malacology and its literature. Starting with investigations of the fossil fauna of South Carolina under the guidance of Axel Olsson, Dick soon narrowed his focus to the family Cancellariidae, on which he became an expert recognized at the highest levels.

Over a long and productive lifetime Dick authored many dozens of scientific papers, usually in collaboration with others. His extraordinary eye for detail and steady productivity yielded an enviable portfolio of "problem-solving" papers. His particular forte, however, was biographies and rigorous collations of the new names attributed to some of history's most prolific but problematic authors, including J. E. Gray and all three George Brettingham Sowerbys. He also published an annotated facsimile edition of George Perry's "Arcana" as a well-reviewed book that gained him recognition in the wider natural history community.

Widely traveled, often accompanied by his wife Liz, Dick met and corresponded with many of the greats of his era. He formed a particular interest in Japan, and authored major collations of the work of Tadashige Habe and Tetsuaki Kira.

For many years, Dick had a side job as an antiquarian bookseller, often buying entire libraries. He exasperated certain more established dealers in that field by refusing to charge inflated "market" prices, and often would discount heavily - or even give books free - to help what he felt was a good cause, such as an up-and-coming student.

In later years, Dick decided to clear his desk of certain "little projects" that had built up. To this end, he published Conchologia Ingrata, which allowed him to bring these minor matters to the attention of anyone who was interested free of charge and without taking up valuable space in "proper" journals. Many of the Ingrata's papers will be useful to those with an interest in Malacology and natural history in general, and Dick's trenchant book reviews will serve as excellent guides to avoiding common mistakes when preparing work for publication.

Paul Callomon,
Collections Manager
Malacology Department
Academy of Natural Sciences



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