Oyster shell

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Native American necklace
MFA# 1985.457


Shells from any marine mollusk of the family Ostreidae. Edible mollusks, such as the Ostrea virginica, found in the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay, account for most of the shells currently produced. Pearl white, a white, Calcium carbonate pigment is made by either crushing pearls or oyster shells. Oyster shells are also crushed then calcined to produce a high grade of commercial Lime.

Mosaic cuff
MFA# 1998.57

Synonyms and Related Terms

coquille d'huitre (Fr.); écaille d'huitre (Fr.); concha de ostra (Port.); pearl white; oyster shell white

Resources and Citations

  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • R.D. Harley, Artists' Pigments c. 1600-1835, Butterworth Scientific, London, 1982
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 132