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Mother of Pearl Facts and Photos

mother of pearl shell

Mother of Pearl also Known as Nacre

Mother of pearl is a naturally occurring iridescent substance that lines the shells of some fresh and salt water molluscs.

Also known as nacre (pronounced nay~ker) it comes predominantly from the shell of the pearl oyster, freshwater pearl mussel and abalone.  Abalone is a type of gastropod or sea snail.
Mother of pearl is known to have been used at least as far back as 4200 B.C.  More recently it was widely used by the Ottoman Turks during the 15th century.  Koran cases, writing desks, chests, shutters for windows and doors and pulpits and lecterns were all made from mother of pearl. It was was also used in the architecture and decoration of mosques and palaces.

Mother of pearl buttons were a major business in the early days of Illinois in the USA.  Precise information about how early the industry began is vague but it's known to have been in progress during the early 1900's. 

America was exporting billions of tons of mother of pearl buttons all over the world up until World War II.  After the war the industry was pretty much wiped.  This followed the introduction of newly invented plastic.

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