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Shell Doll


In the 1840s, women's magazines offered instructions in shell handicrafts and sold quantities of shells in uniform colors and sizes. As the hobby gained popularity, even the Sears, Roebuck & Company catalogue offered shells in boxes of 100 pieces priced at one dollar for "Panama Shells," and 34 cents for "Money Cowrie Shells." In an 1876 book called "Ladies' Fancy Work," the authors note that the popularity of shell work had "induced persons of taste to endeavor to copy some of these beautiful but costly elegancies . . . for parlor or dressing table." Some ladies created elaborate figures and scenes made of shell and protected by a glass dome for display. Other amateurs copied the colorful shell dolls available as souvenirs at seaside resorts.

  • Material: shell
  • Origin: Brittany, France
  • Style: national costume
  • Object ID: 92.1418
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