By the 1790s, large, luminescent disks made of exotic materials had superseded the earlier taste for modest buttons of metal or fabric on men's coats. This pink conch shell button, set in gold with a silver-plated boss and a gilt ten-pointed star at its center, is one of many believed to have been owned by George Washington. Washington purportedly gave this button to Colonel Richard Kidder Meade, his aide-de-camp during the Revolutionary War, who in turn had it mounted as a pin and presented to his wife.


Pink conch shell concave button with gilt metal ten-pointed star and silver-plated copper alloy boss in center; smooth pink and white surface of the shell on obverse; dull white surface of the shell on reverse, except in areas where the dull white has been carved away to expose the pink surface; set in a circular conforming gold mount with twisted gold wire encircling the shoulder; on the reverse of the button, the copper alloy shank is cut flush with the surface; reverse of the gold mount is stamped with a diaper pattern; button supported by a sprung copper wire which was later soldered in place inside the gold mount under the button; clasp seat mounted on the reverse of the rim; the clasp pin is missing, and a hole remains in the rim where it was originally mounted.

B: Pink cloth case with ivory satin interior. Straight pin is inside, maybe broken from object (?). Case is for W-2048 A-880


c. 1789-1797



Conch shell, gold, silver, copper alloy


Overall: 1/2 in. x 1 7/16 in. x 1 7/16 in. (1.27 cm x 3.66 cm x 3.66 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Drayton Hill Meade in memory of Col. Richard Kidder Meade, 1955

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

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