The Shell Game

Rearranging some closets, I came across a large box of shell necklaces I’ve had since the early 1960s, a gift my father brought back from a many-month sailing sabbatical he took through and around Nevis and St. Kitts.

Bonus: I’ve posted a photo here from that trip, my dad’s sailboat. Darn if I can find it. I’ve searched through thousands of photos, searched by tag sailing and travel, only to come up empty. Anyone with nothing to do today is welcome to search for me. No prize, other than a hearty thanks from me. Gyp, I know.

Back to the shells, I have no idea if they were made for the tourist trade and my father bought necklaces made by machine with shells that were shipped in from China, but I gotta say they are really pretty and look hand-strung to me.



One has come apart but overall, considering how poorly I’ve stored the necklaces, in a box, rather jumbled, it’s surprising they aren’t all broken.


Over the years, I thought about bringing one or two on vacation but paused, fearing I’d be stopped at customs, asking for a receipt or pay a customs fee. Again, I have no idea of they have any value and I haven’t a clue who specializes in such things to tell me if they should be preserved in any special way. I only know Dad came home with this giant box in about 1964 and said local women made them.

12 thoughts on “The Shell Game

  1. They are beautiful but my instinct is that they were made from manufactured shells – the white shells are all perfectly and identically shaped and too white (like the Oscars!) I’m sure they were hand-strung but beyond that, sorry, I don’t think they have any value.

    We went up to Canon Mountain in NH to ski this long weekend. Packed, even for Canon which usually only gets ski purists because the mountain is north-facing and always cold.

    Our other news is that we have an accepted offer on a house in Jackson Hole. The move is actually;y going to happen.

    1. Catherine – that last paragraph is HARDLY “other news”. Oh my goodness, that’s breaking news. Tell more.

      We’ve skied at Cannon many many times, staying outside Franconia in Sugar Hill. Cold is the understatement. You are hardy. Was that planned to prepare yourselves for the snow in Wyoming??

      As for the necklaces, I regrettably agree with your assessment. The white shells are too perfect. I guess I’ll pass bringing them to Antiques Roadshow or adding them to my “estate” planning. 🙂

      1. The shell necklaces are excellent examples of vintage international folk art. Vintage is the new word for old, used, second-hand, junk, passé and so on. Not quite old enough to be antique but will be eventually. You can sell anything if you call it vintage. That said, I love those necklaces. They’re very pretty. One would look good with a summer T anywhere where it’s warm, including RI. Wear them and treasure the memories. Check the stringing first, though….

        Sugar Hill. Forget the skiing, go to Harman’s for cheddar instead.

        1. Harman’s is a fabulous place. All of Sugar Hill is beautiful. We’re regulars at Polly’s Pancake House.

          Sadly, so many things in that area have been abandoned. The far-out hippie Franconia College gone. And all of Dixville Notch is gone, including the famous old Balsams Resort.

      1. Really? I didn’t hear that. That’s downright hysterical. Michael Moore is such an ass. The good thing about not attending, it frees up several empty seats!

        I did read that actress who payed Aunt Viv on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, lit into Jada Pinkett Smith for refusing to attend. I’ll see if can find the article. I was going to do a post called #OscarsSoWhite later anyway.

  2. It might be worth just putting them up on with an optimistic pricing strategy, just to test the market. Given the fifty year old vintage, there must be some value in the craft of necklace making that may not even exist today. Who knows, maybe a theater group in Norman Oklahoma is in the process of staging South Pacific and these items are exactly what they’ve been looking for?

    1. I really can’t part with them even if they have no monetary value. But Etsy is a great idea and I shop there from time to time for unique gifts.

Comments are closed.