Freshwater Pearl Mussel - Pearl Fishing - Manufacturing of Nacred Objects. The Special Exhibition in the Museum of Adorf

Steffen Dietz
The editor of Mollusc World has been meaning to publish an article on the Adorf shell museum since attending a pearl mussel meeting in nearby Bad Elster in 2006. I am very grateful to Robert Vandré for supplying me with this article and photographs. I have only reproduced the English summary, but the full reference is: pages 55-60 in: Vandré R. & Schmidt C. (Eds.) 2006: Proceedings from the Workshop “Pearl Mussel Conservation and River Restoration” 15.-16.11.2005 in Bad Elster, Germany. Bezirk Oberfranken & Anglerverband Südsachsen Mulde/Elster e.V.
The local museum in the town of Adorf in the region “Oberes Vogtland”, Saxony, was originally established in 1955 as an exhibition of local history. In the former town gate now the museum shows the largest German collection of mother–of-pearl with more than 700 exhibits. In former times freshwater pearl mussels occurring in the rivers of the “Vogtland” were the basis of pearl fishing and the development of a nacre industry in Adorf since about 1850. A few years later, more and more material from the sea was used. The fabrication boomed and about 1870 Adorf became the center of German nacre industry. Souvenirs (e.g. little ships, painted mussel or snail shells) were produced as well as other room and table decoration (thermometers, clocks, picture frames, mirrors). In the 20th century the industry declined. Nowadays there is only one company in the “Vogtland” that perpetuates this old tradition.
1. Early products of the nacre industry at Adorf, made from local pearl mussels. Photo: Reinhard Altmüller
2. Objects of decoration and of utility, made from the nacre of sea mussels. Photo: Robert Vandré
3. Wall clock, covered with mother-ofpearl. Photo: Reinhard Altmüller
All other photographs of objects and displays in the museum - Photos: Robert Vandré