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Sea shells were an early part of the Deerfield Academy Museum collection which was begun in 1797. Collections of natural specimens and exotic or historically significant artifacts were first compiled by the wealthy during the Renaissance in Europe. By 1800, this type of collection, sometimes called "cabinet of curiosities," were brought into educational use in America. Many New Englanders were engaged in ocean-going trade and whaling and often collected shells and other specimens from the sea as souvenirs for their families and community to inspire and educate.
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