Yesterday at Sand N Stones we were talking about Caesar Rodney. There was a statement made…. When was the last time, you got on your horse, and rode up to Philadelphia 30 plus hours in the cold rain, with cancer to break a tie, which impacted this great nation in profound ways?
Tucked inside of a report that I did on this great Delawareian, was a newspaper article that I saved from The Delaware State News dated Sunday, July 3, 2011 Vol 111, No. 333 titled Rodney’s Life one of history and mystery by Jamie-Leigh Bissett.
His Dover- for Delawareans, Caesar Rodney is the star of Independence Day.
legendary ride to Philadelphia and tie breaking vote in 1776 are firmly rooted in Delaware and American history.
But there are details of his life to much speculation – including what he looked like and the health problems he endured.
Rodney never posed for a portrait and historians tell us he kept part of his face veiled because of cancer – what he once called “that horrid and most obstinate disorder” – on his face.
“Because there are no documented portraits of Rodney, which is unusual for someone of his prominence, we don’t know what he physically looked like, “ said Russ McCabe, former state archivist and Delaware historian.
Through his words John Adams pained an unflattering picture of Rodney. “He was the oddest-looking man in the world” Adams one wrote. “He is tall, thin and slender as a reed, and pale; his face is no bigger than an apple.”
Actor Tim Parati is someone who has experienced the challenge of portraying Rodney. When he hot the role of Rodney in the HBO miniseries “John Adams” in 2008, he turned to the internet and immediately read Adams’ quote.“I said, ‘Really?’ Oddest looking man?” Mr. Parati remembered with a chuckle. “I was shocked to find out he had cancer of the face and I was worried what that was going to entail as far as wardrobe and makeup was concerned.”
Mr. Parati and the costume designer later found out that the kind of cancer Caesar Rodney had was not known, nor how long he suffered or what it specifically was about his face that caused Mr. Adams to declare him the “offset looking man in the world?”
Mr. McCabe wonders why Rodney never sat for a portrait. “If his head was in fact the size of a large apple, it might explain why there are no portraits of him, said Mr. McCabe. But with his popularity, you would think he could find an artist who would have depicted him in a positive light.”
Though there were no formal pictures of Caesar Rodney done during his lifetime, presumably because of the scars that were caused by his face cancer, this portrait was created in the 19th century. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar_Rodney
Caesar Rodney began seeking treatment for his cancer in 1768, according to Jane Harrington Scott’s book “A Gentleman as Well as a Whig: Caesar Rodney and the American Revolution.”
Excerpts of the book were provided to the Delaware State news by Constance Cooper, chief curator with the Delaware Historical Society, “I got to Philadelphia on Saturday and on Monday applied to the doctors concerning the sore on my nose, who all upon examination pronounced it a cancer,” Rodney said in a letter to his brother, Tomas on June 7, 1768. The letter goes on to say that doctors recommended that he go to England for treatment. But because of the “growing controversy with Britain,” he never went.
Ms. Cooper considered what may have happened if Rodney went to England. “He might have stayed in England like some people had done, or after treatment he might have come back home,” said Ms Cooper. “It is one of the great ‘what ifs’ in Delaware History.”
The book says Rodney instead visited with James Hamilton, the ex-governor of Pennsylvania what had been diagnosed with a similar skin cancer. “(Hamilton) gave (Rodney) some of his own medicines and pledged to visit Caesar every day to see if there were working ‘in the same manner as with him,” the book said.
Caesar Rodney underwent surgery to remove the “sore” on his nose in June 1768. “The doctor extracted the hard-crusted matter which had risen so high, and it has left a hole I believer quite to the bone and extends for length from the corner of my eye above halfway down my nose,” Rodney wrote. “Such a sore must take some considerable time to cure up – if ever it does. However, since it has been extracted, I am perfectly easy as to any pain.”
And though the surgery was thought to have cured Caesar Rodney of his cancer at the time, a letter from his doctor, Thomas Bond of Philadelphia on April 26, 1770 proved otherwise. “I am greatly concerned at the return of your cancer, especially so near the eye.” The doctor wrote. He went onto describe how he was going to cover the hole in Rodney’s face with plaster for 5 or 6 days, followed by the application of a “SpermaCali” ointment and by a “dry lint.”
Ms. Scott’s book said Rodney bottled face cancer as well as asthma for the rest of his life. The book said the treatments and regular travels to Philadelphia took their toll on Rodney especially his wallet. “I am necessarily at a very considerable expense; my cash is running very low.” He was quoted as saying in 1782. “If there is any money due to me which ought to come through your hands, you will oblige me exceedingly by… transmitting it to me… as soon as possible.”
Despite the hardships, however, Caesar Rodney remained hopeful about his disease. “I am determined to persevere, it is a matter of … no less than life or death,” he said. “The doctors must conquer the cancer, or the cancer will conquer me.”
Had he lived today
Dr. rishi Sawhney, medical director of the Bayhealth Cancer Institute, said he is not sure whether Caesar Rodney died as a result of his cancer, nor does he know what kind of cancer it was. But the fact that it disfigured his face meant that the disease was probably in the advanced stages. He said had Rodney been alive today, his cancer would probably not have progressed to such an advance stage.
“(His) cancer could have been picked up at an earlier stage with face screenings,” Dr. Sawhney said. “Today, medical professionals examine healthy people by looking at their skin to see if they can catch the early signs of cancer before it advances or disfigures a person. But, even if it had progressed to the paint of disfigurement, Dr. Sawhney said reconstructive surgery could have done wonders for his appearance.
He said Caesar Rodney would have also benefitted from pain medicine that is widely available to cancer patients today rather than suffer like he did on his famous ride north. With no pictures available of Rodney or his face, with no official prognosis from a physician, Dr. Sawhney said he can only speculate about what kind of cancer he might have had.
One thing that is known is that Rodney suffered from some form of skin cancer of which there are two main categories: melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. He said even with a picture of Rodney’s face, it would be difficult to determine the type of skin cancer because both melanoma and non-melanoma look the same to the naked eye. When a patient comes in today with skin cancer, Dr. Sawhney said a biopsy is required to make a diagnosis.
He did say that if he had to speculate, he would venture to say that Caesar Rodney had non-melanoma cancer for one simple fact: melanoma usually spreads throughout the body and even affects a person’s internal organs. “It is not common that an untreated melanoma with remain dormmate for that many years, though it is possible,” Dr. Sawhney said.
Fact versus fiction
Caesar Rodney statue in Rodney Square in Wilmington DE Photo https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar_Rodney
Ms. Cooper said even through Caesar Rodney’s trip to Philadelphia to cast the winning vote for independence has been well documented through the years, there are some “facts’ about the ride and his life that she questions.
The first was the famous silk veil that he wore during his ride to “prevent” upsetting onlookers. I’ve never seen documentation about him wearing a mask or a veil. Maybe that is more legendary than anything else, “she said.
Mr. Parati said costume designers on the set, who worked tirelessly to make sure everything was as authentic as possible, had trouble with Rodney’s legendary scarf. “There are no formal portraits of him, so it was hard to tell what he had done, so we went with the green scarf. We went with what we had,” he said.
Mr. Parati said little was known about how he would have worn the scarf. “At first, we wrapped it around my head, but it looked like (Jocob) Marley from (Charles Dickens’s novel “A Christmas Carol”) – like I had a toothache or something. It was too comical, so we went with the more fashionable head wrap,” he said. “With any movie, you do take some artistic license. We did as much research as we could about what would look best for the production and for the costume design.”
Mr. Parati said makeup artist also painted “cancer spots” and scars on the left side of his face to demonstrate Rodney’s cancer.
Mr. McCabe said Ms. Cooper could very well be right about her supposition what there is no proof that Rodney actually wore a silk veil. “There is no first-person documentation about the veil so she may be right” he said.
Mr. McCabe said the “funny” thing about Caesar Rodney, one of the most well know figures of his era, is “so much of his story seems to be thinly veiled in myth or half-truths.” “For whatever reason,” he said, “the level of knowledge of his life doesn’t equal the prominent figures of his era.”
Mr. McCabe said there is another legend surrounding Caesar Rodney’s famous ride to Philadelphia that has be debated throughout history. As the story goes, Rodney made a 30-hour trip leaving for Philadelphia from Dover after he heard that Delaware delegates Thomas McKean and George Read were deadlocked on the vote for independence.
As a kid Mr. McCabe said that he heard that Rodney actually began his ride from Sussex County where he had been romancing a lady.
Another “did he?” Or “didn’t he? Questions about Rodney’s ride was, did he make his way north in a thunderstorm on horseback like the famous picture depicts, or did he instead make the trip in a carriage? “It was probably a combination of bot,” McCabe said. “As the story goes he left his home outside Dover in a carriage, but made the vote in his boots and spurs, so perhaps the last leg was on horseback.
Caesar Rodney pictured on the commemorative Delaware quarter. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caesar_Rodney
Another possible misconception, Ms. Cooper said, is the cause of his death on June 26, 1784 at the age of 57. No one knows whether he died as a result of his cancer, Ms. Cooper said. “No cause of death was given other than he was in frail health,” she said.
Mr. McCabe said not only was Caesar Rodney’s life veiled in so much mystery, so too was his death. In his last will and testament signed March 27, 1787, Caesar Rodney asked that his bother Thomas, “erect a good substantial brick wall” enclosing the family burial ground at the old Byfield Farm “in the same manner as burial ground are usually enclosed” within 24 months of his death using money raised out of the “rents and profits of my real estate.” This however, was never done.
Mr. McCabe said back in 1997, when he was charged with responsibility of placing a historical marker on the Byfield Farm, he was at the time working with a prominent Dover resident and historian, James Jackson, who was also a descendant of the Rodney family. He said it is thought that about 60 Rodney family members are buried somewhere on the Byfield farm, but because no marker was ever established, no one knows for sure where the cemetery is.
A historical marker on the corner of Bergold Land and Del. 9 east of Dover and adjacent to the Dover Air Force Base, marks Byfield, the childhood home of Caesar Rodney, where it is believe he and about 60 members of his family are buried.
“Mr. Jackson told me that not too many years after Caesar Rodney’s death, the farm was sold out of the family for payment of debt for whatever reason,” Mr. McCabe said. “His heirs and his executors did not ever get around to doing what he asked as far as a burial place, which lead to the disappearance of any physical evidence of the Rodney family burial ground.”
He went on to say that Rodney’s place of burial has been the subject of great debate of the years and something that has contributed to the air of mystery that surrounds his life. “He’s that Carmen San Diego guy in Delaware history. Where was he and who was he? Mr. McCabe said.
CR’s lasting legacy
With all the mystery that surrounds Caesar Rodney, his life and his cancer, one thing is for sure, according to Mr. McCabe: “I honestly believe if you had to give the title of ‘Mr. Delaware’ to just one person, it would be Caesar Rodney,” he said. Not just because of the distinction that he was a signer of the distinction that he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but because he had such a distinguished career.”
Mr. McCabe said even through Caesar Rodney will never be forgotten, he believes Delaware’s founding father deserves to have a place where people can go to publicly remember him. “At some point in time, I am hopeful that there is an effort undertaken to mark his grave,” he said. “He choose to lie in an unmarked grave, and with what he achieved. That is something that could be done and should be done.”
Written by Staff writer Jamie-Leigh Bissett for the Delaware State News published Sunday July 3, 2011
A monument in memory of Caesar Rodney can be found within the walls of Christ Episcopal Church in downtown Dover on the corner of State and Water Streets. The marker reads “Statesman, soldier and signer of the Declaration of Independence.”
This week is Delaware Week, being Delaware Day is December 7th. I have not posted much about the fascinating history that this First State has to offer, and I am blessed to have a retail shop in the First Town in the First State.
I thought that I would include the words to our State Song today…
Oh the hills of dear New Castle,
And the smiling vales between, When the corn is all in tassel,
And the meadow lands are green;
Where the cattle crop the clover,
And it’s breath is in the air,
While the sun is shining over
Our beloved Delaware.
Oh our Delaware! Our beloved Delaware!
For the sun is shining over Our beloved Delaware,
Oh our Delaware! Our beloved Delaware!
Here’s a loyal son that pledges
Faith to good old Delaware.
Where the wheat fields break and billow,
In the peaceful land of Kent,
Where the toiler seeks his pillow,
With the blessing of content;
Where the bloom that tints the peaches
Cheeks of merry maidens share,
And the woodland chorus preaches
A rejoicing Delaware.
Dear old Sussex visions linger,
Of the holly and the pine,
Of Henlopen’s jeweled finger
Flashing out across the brine;
Of the gardens and the hedges
And the welcome waiting there
For the loyal son that pledges
Faith to good old Delaware.
From New Castle’s rolling meadows,
Through the fair rich fields of Kent
To the Sussex shores hear echoes
Of the pledge we now present;
Liberty and independence
We will guard with loyal care,
And hold fast to freedom’s presence
In our home state, Delaware
Words by Geo. B. Hynson, Music by Will S. Brown and 4th verse by Donn Devine
Recently, I was asked why I do not really talk about or post on my website or social media about the healing properties of gemstones.
Michele’s Healing Properties Beliefs’
Most of my life I usually had stone or mineral in my pocket. One day my father, who has a very concreate scientific mind, asked me why I always had a stone in my pocket. I always replied, “that it makes me feel better.” He asked me how it made me feel better? Knowing that I needed to come up with a very scientific answer I explained…
Rock are minerals, our bodies are made up of minerals. Dad always taught me that when we get sick it is because our body is lacking a type of mineral. Most of our medications that we take daily are minerals. Our largest organ of the body is our skin. So laying a mineral on top of our skin, our body absorbs small amounts of that mineral into our body.
He asked how do I know which stone I need. I told him, that there are several books written on this subject, but I use them as very loose guidelines. I really depend on whatever stone I am drawn to that day.
Here is a list of a few books that I use as a very loose guideline for Healing Properties. What I have found is that some of these books contradict each other, they are reporting on what experiences they have found with a particular stone.
Yesterday, a gentleman came into Sand N Stones and we started talking about sea glass, and what sea glass is. It is essentially our trash that has found its way into a large body of water, the waves break it up, the tide comes along smoothing the edges with the sand, and it is the acidity of the water, eating away at the glass causing the coveted frosting. It takes 50+ years to make a piece of glass into a piece of sea glass. I also explained that glass is a made from a natural products, Lime, Soda, and Sand when mixed together it forms sand. We started talking about how we wished that more things were made from glass.
I know that we can sterilize glass and reuse it over and over again. How things taste so much better when it is served in glass vs plastic. I realize that it cost more to ship glass than plastic, because of the weight of the glass. The money that we are paying for environmental clean-up and health care issues caused by the plastics and styrofoam, would surely make up for the shipping cost of glass.
There is an island floating out in the ocean, bigger than the size of Texas, purely made from plastic. Unfortunately, it only keeps on getting bigger. We than started talking about how people are not going to stop polluting, and how our great-great grandchildren will still be dealing with our plastic and styrofoam trash during their life time. At least with glass, the waves and the rocks will break up the glass, and eventually it will go down to a pebble of sand once again.
I told him that I have never heard of an animal passing away from a piece of glass, now I am sure that may have happened, but surely not to the extent that we are hearing about today with plastics.
He told me that the Recycling companies are having a hard time with recycling glass. They really cannot melt it down, so they are trying to crush it called glass cullet. At one time, they were mixing the glass with our asphalt, to pave our roads eliminating the need to presort the glass and replace gravel which is mixed into the asphalt. They also use glass cullet for match tips, tile, and counter-tops. There has been some chatter about possibly replenishing the beaches, and the golf course sand pits with the crushed glass, but according to the gentleman that I was speaking with they are still getting slivers of glass that are sharp. So they have not perfected that idea yet.
After the gentleman left my shop, I couldn’t stop thinking about our conversation. What if we allowed Mother Nature to take over that process? It has been proven over time, that if we dump ONLY glass into our oceans, The waves will break it up, and it will eventually go back down to a grain of sand once again. This would help with keeping the natural ocean shelves where they need to be. Instead of destroying them when we do beach preservation. It will not really disturb our marine animals and birds because they have the same enzymes that we have, and their cuts will heal, look at most of the manatees, whales and sharks they all have scars which have all healed. I do not believe that that the lime and soda that also is in glass, will disturb our wildlife either, since it will be mixed in with the glass, which is in a solid state.
Please do not hear me say, that I think that we should litter. that is not what this blog post is about. What I want to say, is that I feel that we should go back to glass containers, it is safer for us, our environment, and our planet.
I think that we need to come up with some simple creative solutions that will take care of more than one problem.
by Michele Buckler – Sand N Stones- 112 Front St. Lewes, DE
Long ago before we became “Green” conscious, we use to throw large portions of trash into bodies of water. Few ever gave a second thought to what happened to the trash once it got there. It would roll around in the sea for many years, some would break down and disappear, and others would wash back up on our shores.
Beachcombers use to walk the beaches and pick up glass seeing it as liter from long ago, others collected it, intrigued by its colors and shapes. It was not until Richard LaMotte wrote “Pure Sea Glass” in 2004, which told us of the value, where the glass could have come from, about the colors and the rarity of those colors.In 2009 he came out with a supplement to his book called “Pure Sea Glass Identification Cards, and in 2015 The Lure Of Sea Glass.
Genuine or Natural “Tide Tumbled” Sea Glass (also known as beach glass, mermaid’s tears, and Old Salts, Salties, many other names) is formed when any piece of glass (mostly bottles, tableware, windows, insulators, marbles, bonfire glass, ship wrecks, etc.) made their way into large bodies of water. The waves breaking them down, turning glass into shards, usually in triangular shape. The currents would move the glass over sandy surfaces smoothing the edges. Over several decades, the acidity of the water would give it a frosting turning glass into sea glass. It takes 50+ years for the acidity to eat away enough glass to make seaglass.
Many people are wondering why it is getting harder to find sea glass; there are different theories about this. More things are made of plastic today instead of glass. Some say it’s because most beaches have a carry in carry out policy. Can you remember when there were trash cans on the beaches? We are doing more recycling so we are not polluting as much as we once did. The process of beach restoration is pumping the sand from way out covering up the glass, there are also more beaches that are manicured, so they collect the shells, stones and sea glass, and use it for other purposes such as driveways. Most people say it is because more people are collecting it.
Beachcombers have found that they enjoy picking up sea glass, and displaying them in containers in their homes similar to those who enjoy gathering shells, stones and sea pottery. Authors have written about sea glass, Artisans have found ways to incorporate sea glass in their jewelry, photographs and paintings. Others have found ways to use the glass into everyday items such as sun catchers and candles. Some enjoy trying to identify its original origins.
“When I find a piece of sea glass it is like finding a missing piece of the puzzle.”
A few people have tried, unsuccessfully, to copy “Mother Nature’s” work by tumbling or etching the glass, called Ersatz sea glass. Zrsatz sea glass (fake, faux or Earth glass) has a certain appeal to some and is less expensive to buy, but to a true collector it cannot match the beauty or value that natural sea glass has. It is one of the few man-made things that get more desirable after it has been discarded and weathered by the elements.
Most beaches have sea glass some are better than others. You can do some research and find out if there were any shipwrecks near by, or what the beach or body of water was used for? Once you have found a beach that you want to collect glass from, it is best to look for glass during a full or new moon in the Fall and early Spring at low tide. But the most important thing about “sea glassing” is don’t tell others where you find your treasures.
You can bring your Sea Glass that you have found into Sand N Stones and Michele will be happy to custom wire wrap it for you in either 14k gf, Anti-Tarnish Sterling Silver (Argentium), or a combination of both. Michele usually makes pendants, pin, or earrings out of the Sea Glass.
Sand N Stones, Delaware & Nature Shoppe, “Your One Stop Sea Glass Shop!”
Your local Antique Bottle Club
I asked an Archaeologist one day if there was a way to save the shards that I find on the beach from crumbling over time. She told me… Pottery Shards are very pores, and when they have been in salt water for many years, the salt gets inside of the pottery, and since salt is a drying agent it could over time make the pottery crumble. She suggested that I soak the pottery shards in half distilled vinegar and half distilled water in a glass jar with a lid for a week or so. She explained that the vinegar was a drawling agent and it will drawl the salt out of the pottery. When you take the pottery out of the jar it will have a slight vinegar smell to it but the smell goes away in a few days. She told me that this will not change the pattern on any designs on the pottery if there is any left, remember when we dye Easter eggs we use the white vinegar to set the dye on the egg.
Orange Natural Sea Glass, Orange is the rarest of the sea glass colors.
I have collected sea glass since I was six-year-old. One of my biggest pet peeves is that people are selling man-made sea glass as real sea glass. Several people have come into Sand N Stones asking me if there is a way to tell the difference between real sea glass and man-made sea glass. The answer is yes and no. If we look at the definition of Seaglass…. Any piece of glass that has found its way in a large body of water, the waves brake it up, the current tumbles it along and it is the acidity of the water, eating away at the glass that gives it the frosting that we love. It takes 50 or more years to make a piece of glass into a piece of seaglass.
The acid is what gives the glass a frosty look and gives it that nice almost “gritty” feeling, which is so desirable. However, as we also know the acid in body of water varies from place to place. Making it a bit more difficult.
When glass is tumbled in a rock tumbler, which is one of the ways that people make so-called sea glass, it has a silky smooth feel to it, very much like tumbled rocks would.
Natural Turquoise blue sea glass wire framed pendant from Sand N Stones in Lewes, DE
Another way you can tell sea glass from man-made seaglass is the shape. Glass fractures in a triangular like shape. It does not break in a perfect square or circle shape. If the object has been broken and it is in any other shape other than a somewhat triangular like shape you can question that it may be man-made sea glass. However, if the object has not been broken by the waves, or the glass hitting something like a rock, and it was originally round such as this brake light it could be true sea glass. The brake light pictured is an example of that, which you can see at Sand N Stones. Also if you find two pieces of sea glass that are identical, glass does not fracture the same twice, you want your red flag to go up, and start asking questions is this real sea glass or man-made.
Richard LaMotte who is known as the God Father of Sea Glass wrote the first true book dedicated to learning about these vanishing gems Pure Sea Glass and is know as the Bible of Sea Glass he has also published the Lure Of Sea Glass and Pure Sea Glass Identification cards.
Another good book about sea glass is CS Lamber’s book Sea Glass Hunters Handbook. This also gives you a list of beaches broken down by State and Country where you may be able to find Sea Glass. However, I have found that sea glass is getting harder and harder to find even at some of my personal best beaches, that is why I believe “man made sea glass” is being made.
Sandy Delaware Sandflakes TM Ornaments are made with genuine Delaware sand located off the Delaware Bay. Handcrafted locally here in Delaware especially for Sand N Stones. We currently have 2 different sizes and 2 different snowflake styles. The largest of the sandflakes TM measures 5.5 inches square. Each snowflake is unique and since they are make from genuine Delaware Beach Sand no two are exactly alike. Keep the memories of your favorite beach with you through the winter season.
Growing up in Delaware, Michele Buckler, owner of Sand N Stones, Delaware and Nature Shop has some of her best memories walking the beaches, looking for beach treasures and feeling the cool sand between her toes. Over the years, sea glass, shells, beach pebbles, and Delaware Bay Diamonds have gotten harder to find. However, one thing that has always been there is the sand! Michele wanted to find a way to preserve the warm memories she hopes that we all have and the feeling that we get while walking our Delaware beaches. Talking to many customers about their love for our beaches, several people have asked Michele for ornaments from the area.
Michele contacted some of her local artisan friends and came up with idea of “Sandy Delaware”. Each year, Sand N Stones will release an exclusive new ornament made from “Delaware Sand”. This year, 2015-2016 there will be several sizes and styles of “Lewes Sandflakes” and the shape of Delaware, made from sand. Each ornament looks as timeless and is delicate as the sand itself, yet will hold its integrity for many years to come.
“No matter where life takes you, we hope that Sandy Delaware Ornaments touches your hearts and brings you warm memories.”
If you would like more information about Sandy Delaware, please contact Michele Buckler at Sand N Stones, 112 Front Street, Lewes, Delaware 302-270-7027 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org website www.SandNStones.com follow us on Facebook
AKA Cape May Diamonds
The Delaware Bay Diamonds are quartz crystals, resembling translucent pebbles. They begin their lives truly “in-the-rough” in the upper reaches of the Delaware River, in the areas around the Delaware Water Gap. Pieces of quartz crystal are broken off from veins and pockets by the water current from mountain streams that feed into the river. Thus begins a journey of more than 200 miles that takes thousands of years to complete. Along the way, the sharp edges of the stones are smoothed as they are tumbled along the river bottom to the bay on rapid river currents. Eventually the stones come to rest on the shores of the Delaware Bay in South New Jersey and Southern Delaware.
Thousands of vacationers from Cape May and the Delaware Beach area come each year search for these sparkling crystals that, when cut and faceted, have the appearance of real diamonds. The largest concentration is on the sands of Sunset Beach in Cape May Point. The ship wreck, Atlantis and a rocky jetties trap the stones, which are forced ashore in large quantities just prior to being swept by the tides into the Atlantic Ocean.
Some days the stones are more plentiful than others. Would-be prospectors should come equipped with a beach bucket, sand shovel, and a beach sieve to shake off sand. Typical stones are about the size of a pea and come in different shapes and colors. “Much of the time, larger stones the size of marbles are just underneath a layer of smaller ones,” advises Kathy Hume. Finds as large as eggs have been reported. On one occasion, a gem weighing over one pound was found. Prospectors may also find sharks’ teeth, Indian arrowheads, agates, and black quartz.
Some gift shops at Sunset Beach sell Delaware Bay Diamond jewelry. These pieces are made from gems that have been smoothed and polished in rock
tumblers or cut and faceted. When they are faceted, these gems have the appearance of a genuine diamonds and before the advent of modern gem scanning equipment, many a pawn broker was fooled by the “Delaware Bay Diamond.” Sand N Stones, Delaware and Nature Shoppe in Lewes, Delaware likes to wrap the stone in its natural state, as well as tumbled and they make wonderful souvenirs from the beach.
Delaware Bay Diamonds may have more than just monetary or sentimental value. In an earlier time, the local Kechemeche Indians, a part of the Lenni-Lenape tribe, believed the gems had supernatural powers to influence the well-being and good fortune of their possessor. The bonds of friendship and lasting goodwill were often sealed with gifts or exchanges of the sacred gems or for trading with other tribes and with the newly arriving European colonists.
This was especially true of those gems which were larger and free of any flaws. One of the largest “Cape May Diamonds” was presented to an early settler, Christopher Leaming, by King Nummy, last chief of the Lenni-Lenape. King Nummy received the gem from the Kechemeche as a tribute to him and as proof of their faithfulness and loyalty. Mr. Leaming had the stone sent back to the old country, Amsterdam, Holland. A lapidary expertly cut and polished the stone into a most beautiful gem.
Historically, the southeast portion of New Jersey contained many glass manufacturers, and Delaware Bay Diamonds are often attributed incorrectly to glass remnants, or sea glass discarded by these sources, which were then washed down the Delaware River until they were tumbled in a smoothed on local beaches. Delaware Bay Diamonds are more rounded like that of a grape or pea, where as sea glass tends to be more triangular in shape.
A gentleman came into Sand N Stones, one day, and I was telling him about the Delaware Bay Diamonds, AKA Cape May Diamonds. He told me of how the Cape May Diamond truly got it name. There was a gentleman, who dated his Aunt, who was a rock hound and had been collecting these clear quartz off the beaches of Cape May. One year a Gem Show came to Cape May, New Jersey, and this gentleman wanted to participate in the show. So he filled out the application, when he was asked what he would be selling he put clear quartz stones found on the beaches of Cape May. They would not allow him into the show because the sponsors did not feel that they were the type of stones/gems that they represented in their show. that it was a gem show. He took his case to court. He told the judge that these beach stones were actually Cape May Diamonds. He stated that a Presidential figure (he did not remember which one) was walking the beach and saw these stones that when he held them up he saw a rainbow like are ”fire” in the stones, very similar to what Diamonds have, and he called them Cape May Diamonds. He won the case and participated in the show. The gentleman in the store told me that Rock Hound made up the story so that he could win the case and participate in the show.
The one that I have wrapped pictured are still in its natural rough state. I have not tumbled it, I personally like that frosted natural state of the Delaware Bay Diamonds. To me they have the texture like sea glass, yet they are from the mineral world. If you would like, I will be happy to wrap one that you have found, however, it needs to be close to the size of a dime for me to be able to wrap it.
Recently I have learned that you can also find Bay Diamonds in the Chesapeake Bay as well, however they are a bit darker and some are even a bit greyish black.
Bonfire Glass: is glass that has been in a fire, such as beach bonfires, building fires, and landfill burns. These pieces of glass pictured were formed when glass was thrown into a bonfire and melted (glass melts at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit) and when high tide comes in cools the glass very quickly. Sometimes you get neat things trapped inside of the glass like sand, pebbles, other bottles layer together and ash. Sometimes when the glass has become molten it is very difficult to identify what the glass was originally.