Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Freshwater Pearl Buttons

"In 1887, a German pearl-button maker named J. F. Boepple immigrated to the United States. From the beginning, he realized that the seemingly endless supply of freshwater mussel shells, whose beautiful luster and durability will withstand even the severest laundering, would provide the raw material for a new and significant industry in America. In 1912, nearly 200 plants in the United States utilized valves of freshwater mussels for the manufacture of buttons. The button industry boomed until the development and refinement of plastics following World War II."

McClung Museum, The University of Tennessee


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