The oil giant that grew from a seashell shop

Oil giant Shell literally began with… shells.

Oil, gas, and energy giant Shell has its origins in a London antique store. In 1833, proprietor Marcus Samuel began importing seashells from Asia, which were then popular for decor.

A magnifying glass hovers over the Shell logo against a purple background.

After his death in 1870, his sons, Marcus Jr. and Samuel (yes, his name was indeed Samuel Samuel), inherited the business. Marcus Jr. pivoted. He made a deal with the Rothschilds to ship oil east through the Suez Canal, commissioning the first modern tanker and undercutting John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil.

That company was called the Shell Transport and Trading Co., later shortened to Shell, as a nod to his dad’s business.

On April 23, 1907, Shell and rival Royal Dutch completed an ultimately lucrative merger, becoming the Royal Dutch Shell Group. That date is now considered Shell’s “birthday.”

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