History of company names is strange and accidental. It is filled with twists and tergiversations.
Why is the largest energy company in the world is called ‘Shell’?
In Victorian England, seashells were popular.They collected seashells, painted and made things out of seashells.These seashells had to be supplied by somebody. That’s why she sold seashells on the sea shore. They started importing bigger, shinier shells.
Marcus Samuel cashed in on this importing business, who set up a shop in Houndsditch in east London and became a shell merchant, and called his company ‘Shell’. It soon expanded into other areas of curio market: trinkets, brightly colored pebbles and the like.
Marcus brought his son, Marcus in business, and sent him to Japan for buying gaudy trifles. On this trip, Marcus Jr. found Oil is more profitable business. It diversified into Oil business; however, retained its logo (seashells).
Suresh Shah, Pathfinders Enterprise
Adapted from the book ‘The Etymologicon’ by Mark Forsyth.