The Button Factory – Muscatine, Iowa

10/8/2010:

It all began in 1890 when a man named Boepple, from Germany, cut his foot on a shell while swimming in the Mississippi. Boepple had made buttons from horn in Germany and noticed that the shell had a pearly color and was quite hard. He determined it would make an ideal material for buttons.  He gathered up a few shells, rigged up an old lathe at home and proceeded to cut a dozen buttons. He sold these to a Muscatine store for ten cents. Prior to this time most of the buttons used in America were imported.  Boepple sold a man name Molis on the potential money to be made using clam shells for buttons. He asked Molis to lend him $10 to get started. The two men went to New York to obtain orders and as they traveled, told the story of the plentiful supply of clams in the Muscatine area. People came from all over to make their fortune in the Button Business.  Today, their factory is a renovated restaurant in Muscatine which is known as the “Pearl Capital of the Mississippi”.  from http://www.buttonfactoryrestaurant.com.

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