In the 1790s, a taste for large, luminescent disks made of exotic materials such as shell or stone superseded the earlier fashion for modest-sized buttons of metal or fabric. Such buttons were employed on fashionable outerwear for women, including great coats and riding habits, as well as men's coats. This pair of conch shell buttons, each with a silver-plated boss and a gilt ten-pointed star at its center, was among a larger set owned by George or Martha Washington. The expensive fasteners were later given to friends and family as relics of the venerable couple.


Pink conch shell concave button with gilt metal ten-pointed star and silver-plated 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; loop shank of copper alloy metal.


c. 1789-1797



Conch shell, gold, silver, copper alloy


Overall: 3/8 in. x 1 1/4 in. x 1 1/4 in. (0.97 cm x 3.18 cm x 3.18 cm)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds donated by R. Keith Kane, 1957

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

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