The Pittsburgh Press December 30, 1904
Pearls from the Wabash – Sold in Numbers in Foreign Cities and Bring High Prices.
The fame of the Wabash River pearls is spreading far and wide, and even in Paris dealers are having a big demand for them, their customers being the members of the nobility and the aristocracy. The gems are advertised as the ‘Wabash’ pearls, and by this name they are sold in a number of the larger foreign cities. In New York the representatives of the foreign firms are besieged with hurry- up orders, and they are unable to come anywhere near supplying the demand.
They are paying fancy prices for the gems as fast as they appear on the market. One of these pearls which will sell by a small dealer along the Wabash for $350, will bring three times that sum before it reaches the hands of the Paris dealer, and it is hard to comprehend the price he would put on the gym when he places it on the market. The ‘Wabash’ pearl is regarded as par excellence by the foreign nobility. It is known that the Wabash River has produced thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of pearls during the past 12 months, and it is the unanimous belief of those who are in position to know that thousands are sold which have not come to the knowledge of the general public.
Many people are hunting pearls in the Wabash River. At Longtown one day last week hundreds of people were at work on the big sandbar there. The bar was full of mussel shells, in which the pearls were found. The pearls grow on the inside of the shells which are broken open and the pearl carefully removed by the hunter.
It is said that the production of pearls from the Wabash River is unequaled by any other stream in the world, and it is no wonder, therefore, that the eyes of the foreign dealers and nobility are turned toward Indiana. The quality of the Wabash pearl stands far ahead of all others, and from the very moment it is found it is marketable. Several small fortunes have been made by the pearl hunters, and the end is not yet. (Republished from the Indianapolis Sentinel)
While this article is written about the Indiana side of the Wabash, the Illinois side did not escape this pearl fever. Come to the Historical Society Sept 22 at 7:00 pm at the Museum on the Square and hear Anne Marie Marx, owner of Jewel Craft Jewelers in Vincennes speak about the Wabash pearls, and also about the button industry. She will bring exhibits to enhance her lecture.