"Conchologist" is a fancy word. You don't become a conchologist by earning a degree, however, but through a deep and abiding interest in sea shells. This week, the Oregon Society of Conchologists brings its most magnificent conchs to OMSI for its 47th annual shell show. What goes on at a shell show? Well, we asked club co-president John Johnson. Turns out his collection is worth a surprising amount of booty. No wonder Sally's pushing these things by the seashore—she's probably making bank.

WW: What makes a sea shell valuable?
John Johnson: First, size or length. The second most important factor would be rarity—it should be noted that a common shell can be considered rare if it is of unusually great size. Condition or quality of the shell also increases its value, as with any collectible. Lastly, I would say the popularity of the particular species with other collectors is important. There are hundreds of thousands of various species of seashells, and believe it or not, there is actually an active, updated world-record registry.  

What is the Honus Wagner card of the shell world?
The greatest collector in the world, Pete Stimpson from Tennessee, has over 3,000 world-record shells. A few of these are worth more than $10,000 each. 

What's the prize of your collection?
I own a Cypraea tigris schilderiana measuring 137 mm, and I've had offers in excess of $3,500 for it. It comes from Oahu, Hawaii, and was part of a blockbuster trade of seashells with another local collector. 

My other favorite is a highly rare, giant Pecten magnificus taken decades ago from the Galápagos Islands.

Where do you keep all these dead mollusks?
For my giant shells, I prefer open displays on tropical shelving, as our entire home is a monument of nautical and tropical décor. We were once featured in Sunset magazine.

GO: The 47th annual shell show is at OMSI, 1945 SE Water Ave., 797-4626, through June 2. 9:30 am-5 pm daily. Included with regular museum admission.

Headout Picks


[MOVIES] In the trailer alone, you’ve got Christopher Lloyd wigging out, Ving Rhames shooting killer fish with his artificial legs, David Hasselhoff playing himself, “water-certified strippers,” and a vagina piranha. Multiple theaters. 


[MUSIC] Not only will music fans of all ages be treated to a special performance from stellar Olympia twee-funk outfit Lake, but Genders—three-fourths of Youth, which placed fifth in this year’s Best New Band poll—will be on hand as well. Backspace, 115 NW 5th Ave. 9 pm. $8. All ages.
[ROLLER DERBY] After a season of sweat, tears and hair spray, it all comes down to this. For all the roses and glory, the High Rollers take on the Breakneck Betties for the title of Rose City Rollers 2012 season champions. Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 300 N Winning Way. 5:45 pm. $14-$20.
[FASHION] Here’s your chance to gawk at pretty people wearing pretty clothes. Students at the Art Institute of Portland offer up their most daring and one-of-a-kind (read: unwearable) creations at Dressing Rooms, a much anticipated spring fashion show. Pure Space, 1315 NW Overton St. 8 pm. $5-$100.


[COMEDY] Standup’s most unpredictable stream-of-consciousness comic-musician-hairball returns
to Portland. Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside St., 225-0047. 8 pm. $26. 21+.
[FOOD] Every Sunday, many Australians sit down to an elaborate roast dinner with plenty of spuds and gravy. Pacific Pie Company is bringing this tradition to Portland for a series of Sunday roast suppers. The first will be a three-course roast lamb meal, with sticky date pudding for dessert and an optional Australian wine pairing. Pacific Pie Company, 1520 SE 7th Ave., pacificpieco.com. Seatings at 5 pm and 7:30 pm. $24 for adults, $15 for children 12 and under.


[GENRE] Grieves, the baby-faced 27-year-old Seattle MC signed to Rhymesayers, has an affinity for crafting lyrically vivid narratives of heartbreaks and addictions. His latest album, Together/Apart, reads like a breakup letter to his former self. Peter’s Room at the Roseland Theater, 8 NW 6th Ave. 8 pm. $13. All ages.