Posted in Delaware, Delmarva, History, Lewes, Nature, Uncategorized

“SANDS OF TIME” The Story of Lewes

The Story of Lewes
By Larry Fox – June 8, 1990
NOT FAR from the garish carnival that plays daily along the boardwalk of Rehoboth Beach is a great, hook-shaped cape separating ocean and bay, a place where natural wonders as well as the works of the past are celebrated.

From the cape’s tip, the sand, scrub pines and grass-choked marshes stretch to the limit of vision. It’s one of those delights now so rare on the Atlantic coast, a place with so little development that you could squint your eyes and see it as it was several centuries ago — serene, empty and yet inviting.

The recorded history of Cape Henlopen goes back centuries. In 1609 the massive white dunes on the tip of the cape captured the eye of English explorer Henry Hudson, who found the broad bay a fish-filled haven offering sanctuary from the waters of the Atlantic and promises of even more riches to be found. The cape’s bountiful resources attracted the Dutch in 1631, who founded a small fort — called Zwaanendael (“Valley of the Swans”) — to be used as a whaling colony.

Zwaanendael was established just inside the mouth of a small creek entering the bay a few miles west of the sand dunes on the cape’s tip. The landscape the 32 whalers encountered was lush, if not exactly hospitable: vast expanses of tall, razor-edged marsh grass interrupted only by cypress swamps and pine groves. The colony was doomed, though, but not because of the paucity of whales in the bay or even the mosquito-infested surroundings.

It all started in a dispute over a coat of arms. The Dutch whalers ran into a problem familiar to newcomers: their presence was resented by the locals. In this case, the locals were Lenni Lenape Indians, and soon the dispute — legend holds that it was over the Dutch flag raised at the fort — provoked the Indians to massacre their unwelcome neighbors.

The lack of a welcome wagon didn’t discourage the Dutch, who intime reestablished a trading post there and operated it until 1682, when the English took it over and renamed it Lewes (pronounced “Lewis”) after a village in Sussex County, England.

The centuries since have not always been kind to Lewes and Cape Henlopen. Captain Kidd and others of his ilk plundered the town several times in the late 17th century, and in 1813, the village was shelled by the British in a skirmish in the War of 1812. The casualties were light — a chicken (dead) and a pig (wounded) — though a house damaged by the bombardment still bears a cannonball lodged in its foundation.

The village also became famous as the home of the Delaware Pilots (formally called the Association of Pilots for the Bay and River Delaware), the men who guided the big ships up the treacherous waters of the Delaware bay and river into the vital ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia.

After the Civil War, prosperity was as fickle as the tides. In 1869, the railroad spurred the first economic boom, with other expansions created by harbor development, government and military construction, small factories and another rail line. Lewes was so prosperous in the 1890s that more than 100 homes — many of them in the ornate Victorian and Gothic styles — were built in the town.

Times, though, were changing. The railroad stopped coming, the factories closed and Lewes began to wither. The story would end here except for a small, determined group of residents who decided in 1961 that Lewes and its three centuries of heritage must be saved.

“It was a tired and shabby town then,” recalls Judy Roberts, who grew up in Lewes, married a Delaware pilot and is now the president of the Lewes Historical Society. “We were losing a lot of history.”

Through the works of the society, the local chapter of the DAR and newcomers, many of them retirees from the Washington and Baltimore areas, Lewes today is a treasure house of colonial, 19th-century and Victorian architecture.

The natural resources that attracted the early settlers remain alluring today. The small creek on which the Dutch established their whaling outpost is now part of the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal. Today it anchors Lewes’s small downtown, a waterfront inn, seafood restaurants, and fishing and pleasure boats.

The great cape changed in time, too. Once a crucial military base guarding the mid-Atlantic shipping lanes, today it is a state park covering more than 3,300 acres and offering miles of uncrowded beaches, pine forests and some bleak reminders of World War II, the greatest conflict the world has known. A WALK THROUGH HISTORY.

A walking tour of Lewes should begin at the small, oddly decorated building at Savannah Road and Kings Highway, just three blocks south of the drawbridge across the canal. The building, the Zwaanendael Museum, is a copy of the town hall in Hoorn, Holland. It is adorned with red and white shutters and carved-stone gables. A statue of Capt. Pieterssen deVries, who founded the first settlement here in 1631, sits on top.

The two-story museum displays relics from the H.M.S. DeBraak, a Dutch-named, British-owned warship that sank off the cape in a storm on May 25, 1798. Legend held that the DeBraak carried a cargo of treasure, and fortune hunters tried over the years to locate and recover the horde.

Rediscovered in the 1980s, the DeBraak was found to hold no such treasure, although the china, utensils and other artifacts recovered from the wreckage hold a fascination of their own.

Other exhibits display toys, china, silverware and other household items, parts from the Cape Henlopen lighthouse and other nautical memorabilia used by Lewes mariners.

Behind the museum, facing Kings Highway, is the Fisher-Martin House, a modest two-story frame house built around 1730 in Cool Spring, about 10 miles west, and then moved to Lewes in 1980. The town’s information center is located in the house.

Down the street, at 107 Kings Hwy., is the Colonel David Hall House, which was built around 1790 by the 15th governor of Delaware. This is a private home and isn’t open for tours, but is worth seeing from the outside, if only for its siding of cypress shingles, a building material common to Lewes. The antique shop called the Swan’s Nest in the south wing of the house sells some interesting baskets, forged iron pieces and antique furnishings.

Walking north on Savannah takes you to Front Street and the waterfront. Just west of Savannah Road is a park holding six cannons of various vintages, a memorial to the battery that attracted the British cannonade in April 1813.

One sign of the bombardment can be seen a few steps west on Front Street at the Cannonball House and Marine Museum, a small cypress-shingle house built in 1797. Down on the wall near the sidewalk, just left of the huge anchors flanking the entrance, is a three-pound cannon ball, said to have stuck there in the British attack. The Cannonball House is now a marine museum displaying nautical artifacts related to Lewes.

If you continue walking west on Front Street you pass a few gift shops before coming to Market Street and the Inn at Canal Square, a lovely waterside retreat offering spacious rooms filled with antique reproductions. The inn also rents a two-bedroom houseboat, tied up at the docks in back, for those who prefer a water view.

Market Street, between Front and Second streets, is a shoppers’ paradise, featuring antiques at the Gaslight Company, Copper Penny, Cobwebs Antiques and Carol’s Cove, and gifts at the Classic Toy Box and Celtic Pavilion.

Second Street is Lewes’s main avenue, home to a wonderful, antique-filled hotel — the New Devon Inn — and other temptations. Try the King’s Homemade Ice Cream Shop at Second and Market, which offers wooden booths to enjoy your sundae in.

Flanking the ice cream shop are Habersham Peddler Interiors, with country and classic antique furnishings, and the Golden Goose, a shop specializing in gifts, yarn and knitting materials. The building in which the Golden Goose is located is topped with some dark red and white brickwork, common to High Victorian Gothic buildings.

Between Market Street and Savannah Road are other shops, galleries and restaurants, enough to serve as a break before returning to your walk through history. A block south, at Third and Chestnut streets, is Firehouse Antiques and Accessories, a fine shop occupying what was the Lewes fire station and jail until 1920. During World War II, the tiny building was used to house prisoners of war. The jail bars are still visible in the office of the antique shop.

After browsing through Firehouse Antiques and the Second Street shops, head west again on Second Street and you will enter the heart of Lewes’s past.

On the south side of Second Street, at the corner of Mulberry, is the Ryves Holt House, a shingled structure that is known to have been standing in 1685. The house is named after the naval officer of the port who moved into the house when he took his position in 1721. Later, the home was occupied by Commodore Jacob Jones, a hero of the War of 1812.

The Delaware pilots built many of the fine homes in Lewes. In 1879, pilot John Penrose Virden, first president of the association, built the Second Empire-style house at 217 Second St. The house is marked by its mansard roof and king-post trusses on the dormer gables.

Pilot J. Frank Macintire built the Queen Anne-style house at 221 Second St. in 1901, while pilot James Marshall constructed a Second Empire-style house at 223 Second St. The house, built just after the Civil War, is decorated with four rows of fish-scale shingles on the roof.

Another Second Empire-style house, an impressive three-story home at 232 Second St., was built in 1879 by F. C. Maull, a Lewes ship chandler. A year later, D. L. Mustard, another Lewes merchant, remodeled his 18th-century house on the lot at 236 Second St., surrounding it with the Gothic Revival house that now stands there.

Second Street leads to Shipcarpenter Street, and more historic homes. Pilot William Maull built the late Victorian structure at 106 Shipcarpenter St. in 1897. (These, and many other houses not operated by the historical society, are private and not open to visitors, but may be admired from the street.)

On the waterfront at Shipcarpenter Street is a baseball field and parking lot. Beyond center field is the lightship Overfalls, which was stationed at the entrance to Delaware Bay from 1892 to 1961. And next to it is the small white frame boathouse that housed the U.S. Life Saving Station, a forerunner of the Coast Guard. The ship is open for tours during the summer.

South on Shipcarpenter Street, away from the water, is the pride of Lewes and its historical society — the Complex. The Complex is a two-acre lot at Shipcarpenter and Third streets. Here the historical society managed to save and restore a number of colonial and 19th-century buildings. The buildings are open for self-guided and guided tours.

The Burton-Ingram House at Shipcarpenter and Third was moved from Second Street to its site in 1962. The house was built around 1800, and is girded with cypress shingles and has cellar walls composed of ballast stones taken from ships. The three-story house is magnificent, filled with colonial art and antiques. Upstairs is the Toy Room, a unusual display of children’s playthings from more than a century ago.

The modest addition to the right of the entrance is actually an 18th-century building, donated by the town of Milton, Del., to replace the wing destroyed by fire in 1922.

Next to the Burton-Ingram house on the Third Street side is the Rabbit’s Ferry House, which was moved from the Rabbit’s Ferry area outside of Lewes in 1967. The one-story wing section is an early 1700s farmhouse, with cypress shingles, a sleeping loft and original woodwork. The larger part of the house is newer, but not by much. It was built onto the original house around 1740. The lovely house, graced by boxwoods and other landscaping, is used as an art gallery featuring the works of Tricia Hurt, a painter who lives and works in Lewes and Key West, Fla.

Next to the gallery is the Thompson Country Store, a gray-blue frame house built around 1800 in Thompsonville, Del., and used as a store from 1888 to 1962, when it was moved to the Complex.

The inside of the store is delightful, featuring shelves of such canned items as Dixie Maid Syrup and Buck’s Banquet Hall Minced Meat. Next to the counter are the pigeonholes used by the post office, and opposite them are shelves of more items, including an unusual box of tubes to hold eggs.

“We’re trying real hard to preserve what we have,” explains Judy Roberts, who leads a tour of the Complex. The Lewes Historical Society was formed in 1961, and uses private donations, fees from activities and an inheritance windfall to move, restore and preserve these old properties.

Behind the country store is another old house, the Ellegood House, a two-story farmhouse originally built in Sussex County, Del., around 1824. The house is used today as a gallery selling country crafts and Christmas items.

Next is the Blacksmith Shop, a one-room early 19th-century cedar-shingle structure. And next to it is the Early Lewes Plank House, which may be the oldest building still standing in the Lewes area. The small one-room house, made of square logs and mortar, was built on Pilottown Road by one of the first settlers, who was apparently Swedish, according to the construction style. The exact date it was built is unknown. The house is simple, dominated by the fireplace at the back. There is one tiny bed just right of the door, and a small loft above it.

Behind the Plank House is the small, white Greek Revival Doctor’s Office, which was built around 1850 by Dr. David Hall on Savannah Road across from Second Street. It was moved twice to new locations in Lewes before finally coming to the Complex last year. The two-room house holds some old medical utensils and cabinets, and is being restored.

Roberts, one of the leaders in this restoration effort, lives across from the Complex in Shipcarpenter Square, a one-block development made up of about two dozen 18th- and 19th-century buildings moved to the site and then restored. The Roberts house is a cypress-shingle, story-and-a-half home, built in 1800 about five miles outside Lewes.

“What we have here,” said Roberts, indicating the Complex and the rest of Lewes, “is real. It’s not a reproduction like Williamsburg. It’s all so real!”

A visit to Lewes isn’t complete without a drive or walk out Pilottown Road, the waterfront street that is a continuance of Front Street west of the Inn at Canal Square. The road leads past more historic homes and enters the vast marshlands near the bay. On the canal side is a small monument, almost hidden by the thick bushes used to landscape it. On this spot, more than three centuries ago, Capt. deVries established his ill-fated whaling colony.

The rest, as they say, is history. THE CAPE ESCAPE — Lewes is about 125 miles from Washington. Take U.S. 50 east over the Bay Bridge, then Route 404 east to Georgetown, continuing east on Route 9/404 to Lewes (follow the signs for the Cape May-Lewes Ferry).

The Lewes Historical Society buildings are open for tours June 18 to Sept. 1; tour hours are 10 to 3 Tuesday through Friday, 10 to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays. Self-guided tours are $4, guided tours $5. Buy tickets at the Thompson Country Store in the Complex at Third and Shipcarpenter streets.

For tours by appointment from Sept. 5 to Oct. 15, call the Lewes Chamber of Commerce (302/645-8073). The cost of these tours varies, depending on the length; a $20 nonrefundable deposit is required.

Special events in Lewes this year include the Zwaanendael Heritage Garden Tour from 10 to 5 on June 23. Tickets are $6, and include a garden market, tea and lecture. Call 302/345-8073.

The historical society holds its annual Craft Fair from 10 to 4 on July 14 and the Antique Fair and Flea Market from 10 to 4 on Aug. 4. Both events are at the Complex. Admission is $1 donation. In the Dunes: Winds of War

WHEN YOU STAND on the top of one of Cape Henlopen’s 83-foot-high World War II concrete watchtowers, you can understand the importance of the cape to shipping along the Atlantic coast. From this wind-swept perch you can view giant tankers and freighters traversing the bay and the Atlantic. North is a thin strip of vegetation marking the coastline of New Jersey. On the east tip are a cluster of tiny blips signaling Cape May’s presence. South and west are the 3,300 acres of state parkland, the tiny Fort Miles military base and the Naval Reserve Training and Recruitment Center. And farther south are the high-rises of Rehoboth Beach. Three miles to the west, Lewes can be seen as only a small smudge of buildings hiding in the trees.

The tower is one of nine on the cape, built when the Fort Miles Military Reservation, a harbor entrance control post, occupied the area to keep watch over the shipping lanes. During the war soldiers manned the towers to watch for enemy ship and U-boat activity.

Off these shores more than 400 Allied vessels were sunk by German submarines during the war. The survivors of those attacks often were brought to the bases on the cape. One of the final actions of the war with Germany took place here five days after V-E Day when the U-858 submarine surrendered on May 14, 1945. The sub and its crew were taken to the harbor in Lewes.

After war’s end the military base shrank, and this tower and others were abandoned. The coastal artillery were removed, their massive concrete bases left to stand or used as the foundation for a walkway over the dunes.

The violent past is out of place in this serene landscape. There are sand dunes here; the one on the Fort Miles base called the Great Dune towers between 30 and 40 feet above sea level. Once it was higher, but the Army bulldozed it into shape.

“The dune used to move 60 feet a year in the late 1950s and ’60s,” says Mike Kennedy, naturalist at Cape Henlopen State Park. “We believe most of it is pretty much stabilized now. It’s moving only five to eight feet a year west now.”

The Great Dune will officially become part of the park in the fall when Fort Miles is closed and its 96 acres are annexed by the state. The dune will add another natural attraction to the park, which already has three miles of ocean beach, 1.5 miles of bay beach, miles of hiking trails, camping facilities, numerous recreation facilities (a fishing pier, a nine-hole Frisbee golf course, tennis, basketball and softball), and the Seaside Nature Center, a one-story building housing salt-water aquariums filled with some of the animals, reptiles and fishes native to the cape.

“The aquariums have native species of fish and invertebrates,” says Kennedy. “We have crabs — spider crabs, blue crabs, horseshoe crabs, lady crabs — and fish. We have some examples of hog chokers, flounders, bluefish menhaden, sea robin and sea horses.”

The park also offers a wide variety of nature programs. This year there’s a Friday night program called Highlight of Cape Henlopen, a slide slow “telling the park visitor what to do while they are here,” Kennedy says. The show is at 7 Fridays at the Seaside Nature Center.

At 10 Saturday mornings the park offers a children’s story hour with tales of the sea, while daily at 10 and 2 are “tank talks — a way to get acquainted with the creatures of the aquariums,” according to Kennedy. “And then on Tuesday and Thursday at 2 we have a program called seaside seining, where we catch large fish in our nets along the bay shoreline and then discuss their role in the bay ecosystem.”

The programs are free, but Delaware residents must pay a $2 per car entrance fee ($4 for out-of-state residents).

The nature center also offers birdwatching every Monday at 7, according to Kennedy. “We see the endangered piping plover, peregine falcons, many migrating shore birds, the different types of terns — five different species — as well as about five or six different species of gulls.”

Posted in Delaware, Lewes, Nature, Sand N Stones, Delaware & Nature Shoppe, Uncategorized, Wildlife

Lewes Businesses for Better Bags


Plastic bags are the second most common beach litter in Delaware after cigarette butts. In 2017 the University of Delaware master’s seminar called Debating Marine conservation created a program called Businesses for Better Bags. The students partnered with the Fashion and Apparel Studies department and designed a reusable bag for local businesses to sell.

Horseshoe Crab Lewes Logo out to sea   The students designed the bag, sourced a bag made in the USA from recycled plastic bottles, yes, it’s washable. The design is the state of Delaware with a horseshoe crab marking Lewes  In conjunction with Earth Day celebrations, the UD students’ initiative was written up in Parade magazine which is inserted into national newspapers. The students’ website received a huge number of hits with a sizeable interest in purchasing the bags.

They presented their Businesses for Better Bags initiative for which they received funding from the Sea Grant program to provide the seed money to launch the purchase of recyclable bags. The goals of the program are to reduce the number of single use plastic bags being used in retail establishments. The program has been designed to be sustainable and continue once initial Sea Grant support has expired. The Historic Lewes Business district is the pilot program for this. In hopes that all of Delaware will eventually adopt this program.

 The bags are now available in many of the Historic Lewes retail businesses with the Businesses for Better Bags logo. The students ordered over 1,500 bags and in turn Historic Lewes Business will sell them for $10. The Lewes chamber will sell them online or 302-645-8073 for $20 plus shipping.

We hope that you will help support our efforts in reducing the usage of single use plastic bags. With the hopes of a Plastic Free Delaware

lcoc-flyer_biz for better bags

What is so special about the Lewes, DE reusable bags and the Businesses for Better Bags Program?

-The bags are made entirely from recycled plastic bottles, and are washable as well as recyclable all produced and printed in the USA.

-The average family will bring home almost 1500 single use plastic bags each year. These bags are used for on average 12 minutes, but have a life expectancy of 1000 years.

-Plastic bag productions is environmentally damaging requiring substantial amounts of water and petroleum. Paper bags are not the answer either since they fossil fuels, water and higher transportation cost.

-Plastic bags are the 2nd most common for of Delaware Beach trash. Due to their lightweight and durable design many blow out of landfills into natural environments, causing the deaths of 100,000 marine animals annually. It also blows into bodies of water and gets caught in boat motors and into farmers fields getting tangled into the farm equipment.

-This was a project of the University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment for their Marine Conservation Course.

– Historic Downtown Lewes is the First Town in the First State to implement the pilot program to encourage Lewes businesses and patrons to reduce their dependency on single use bags. There are 16 Downtown Historic Businesses on board with the project to date.


Visit ​Biblion, Blooming Boutique Accessories, Deanna’s, Inn at Canal Street, Just Lewes, Kids’ Ketch, Lewes Gifts, Lewes Gourmet, Lewes Wear, Piccolino, PUPS, Puzzles, Sand N Stones, Shorebreak, Treasures, and Vintage Underground to buy your bag for $10 and support the local stores who put the environment first!

-This is a sustainable program supported by Delaware Sea Grant and the Green Team Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church, Lewes, Delaware, Lewes Chamber of Commerce and designed by fashion students at University of Delaware.

To learn more about this project

This is a video that was produced by WRDE talking about this very subject.




Posted in Antique Bottles, beachcombing, Bone China, Delaware, Delmarva, Glass, Lewes, Nature, Pebbles, Sand N Stones, Delaware & Nature Shoppe, Sea Glass, sea glass / beach glass, Wire Wrapped Jewelry

Sea Glass – Old Glass touched by the Sea

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.

1422653737984-444228751Beachcombers 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 glassship 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.

Visit Michele shop in Lewes, DE and her website Sand N Stones  also Follow Sand N Stones Facebook Page


North American Sea Glass Association (NASGA)

Richard LaMotte, Pure Sea Glass,

Sand N Stones, Delaware & Nature Shoppe,  “Your One Stop Sea Glass Shop!”

Your local Antique Bottle Club

Sea Glass Journal

Odysse Sea Glass

Odysee Sea Glass Directory

Sea Glass Association Network

Sea Glass Artist &  Collectors  Network

Sea Glass Lovers S.G.L. Network


Posted in beachcombing, Delaware, Delmarva, Lewes, Nature, Pebbles, Sand N Stones, Delaware & Nature Shoppe, Sea Glass, stones, Uncategorized, Wire Wrapped Jewelry

Delaware Bay Diamonds – Sand N Stones

Delaware Bay Diamond found on one of the Delaware Beaches. It is wire framed in gold and silver.
Delaware Bay Diamond found on one of the Delaware Beaches. It is wire framed in gold and silver.

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.

Cluster of Delaware Bay (aka Cape May) Diamonds natural and tumbled
Cluster of Delaware Bay (aka Cape May) Diamonds natural and tumbled

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.

Michele will be caries Delaware Bay Diamonds in our store on a regular basis at Sand N Stones in Lewes, DE   Follow Sand N Stones Facebook Page

Posted in Antique Bottles, beachcombing, Delaware, Delmarva, Sand N Stones, Delaware & Nature Shoppe, Sea Glass, sea glass / beach glass

Sea Glass – Treasure Of A Different Kind

By Carol Fezuk

This article was written in The Best Places In Town Complimentary Summer/Fall 08 edition.

The Southern Delaware resort are will welcome Sea glass lovers from around the world on October 11th and 12th 2008, when the Third Annual North American Sea Glass Festival commences at the Virden Conference Center on the University of Delaware campus in Lewes.

This year, with ever-increasing numbers of sea glass professionals and treasure hunters looking to connect, the Festival hopes to draw an even larger international audience of collectors, artisans, nationally-known authors, and basic beachcombers interested in swapping sea glass stories; exhibiting their art and craftsmanship and sharing their tiny treasures with others of like mind.

According to the festival’s local contact, Michele Buckler owner of Sand N Stones, Delaware & Nature Shop in Lewes , “In addition to lectures and seminars, the international ‘Shard of the Year’ contest will be held, awarding a $1,000.00 cash prize to the collector with the most rare and desirable piece of sea glass,” Last year’s SOTY contest, sponsored by the North American Sea Glass Association (NASGA), attracted  over 900 entries, with a rare orange hear shape shard of sea glass taking home the prize money.

“Some of this year’s festival exhibitors are really rather renowned- they’ve been featured on popular television shows like The Today Show, Martha Steward Living, and in the Washington Post…” says Richard LaMotte, author of Pure Sea Glass and NASGA Vice President- a.k.a. The founding father of the Sea Glass community. LaMotte expects over 2,500 attendees, artists, and collectors at this year’s festival. Visitors from destinations in Europe, Canada and the United States including California, Hawaii, and Washington will converge on the first town in the First State for this unique event.

According to the organization’s website , NASGA was formed by a group of professional sea glass collector, authors, artisan and retailers. Their primary goal is to establish a community of informed collectors and sellers of sea glass that is educated on the characteristics and significance, properties and benefits of genuine, pure, sea glass.

In order to maintain the value of genuine beach sea glass, through education, NASGA also established guidelines to differentiate genuine from fake sea glass and standard to which to grade and appraise sea glass.

Real vs Fake Sea Glass?

Genuine sea glass is formed when vintage glass, (beer, water, pharmaceutical bottles, jars, and other vessels) enter the ocean waters through shipwrecks and other natural disasters like hurricanes or an all-too-familiar Delaware Nor’easter. As the glass surface weakens for the action of water, waves and tide it breaks into shards. It is further subjected to corrosive elements, pitting, other natural forces and tumbling actions, yielding pure sea glass with its unique look.

This process can take from fifty to one hundred years, finally producing a quality shard with the customary pores, frost, and luster.

Fake/faux sea glass is created quickly by tumbling or etching by mechanical means and seldom has uneven texture because of the tumbler’s uniformity of design. Modern glass’s chemical etching leaves no pores. Even though fake/faux sea glass has a certain appeal and is less expensive to purchase, it does not have the beauty or value of naturally formed sea glass.

It’s All About the Color

The most common glass bottle colors in the 1800’s were blue-green, green, and brown glass. But by the 1900’s new technology introduced color removing additives and clear glass became the rage.

However, after years of sun exposure the once clear glass turns a subtle arrays of pastel colors like lavender and pale yellow. Orange and red are two of the rarest colors of sea glass.

Supply and demand also helped to make certain colored glass extremely rare for collectors. For instance, in the making of red glass gold ore was added as an ingredient in the glass recipe. Gold was, (and still is!) an expensive ingredient so it was used sparingly. Yellow is also a rare color because the selenium, silver, and uranium dioxide used in the recipe were also costly and scarce ingredients for glass production.

Other unusual, hard to come by sea glass colors are: amber, black, cobalt and cornflower blue, gray, jade green, opaque whites, pink, teal, turquoise, yellow-green, soft greens and purples.

In his book Pure Sea Glass, Discovering Nature’s Vanishing Gems  LaMotte categorizes sea glass colors by rarity. He list as extremely rare: orange, red, turquoise, yellow, black, teal and gray. On his rare are: pink, aqua, cornflower blue, cobalt blue, opaque white, citron, and purple/amethyst. Listed as uncommon are: soft green, soft blue, forest green, lime green, golden amber, amber and jade. And finally the common colors: Kelly green, brown, white (clear).

The book’s color rating scale is based on an intensive study of more than 30,000 pieces of sea glass. It enables readers to determine the rarity of each piece in their own collection.  Pure Sea Glass is available in Lewes at Cape Henlopen State Park/Seaside Nature Center, Sand N Stones and Packard  Reath Gallery; in Dewey at A Way of Life, The Indian River Life Saving Station, and Books and Coffee; or in Rehoboth Beach at Odysea and Browse about Books.

Where Does It Come From?

The most common source of sea glass is mass produced glass bottles for the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some collectors consider collection sea glass, “a form of archaeology” since these vintage relics lay under water for hundreds of years.

Discovered on beaches in shifting tides, where heavy shipping traffic occurred, these well-worn glass pieces pounded by nature’s elements, can resemble precious gems with frosted surfaces, rounded edges, and an interesting range of colors. Turn-of-the-century coastal resort areas with their abundance of tourists and their trash are and excellent source for sea glass.

Tips for Beginning Your Sea Glass Hunt

Ask about ships that wrecked offshore and where the popular beaches from the 1800-1900’s were located. Seek out nautical charts and local maps to locate channels near accessible shorelines.

Talk to waterman. Ask about where the high shipping traffic occurred, circa 1900. Once you have narrowed your “collection zones, it’s best to look for sea glass during full or new moons, particularly in the fall and in early spring after wind and waves have washed up pebbles, shells, and sea glass over the beaches. Remember to scavenge the high- and low-tide lines where stones or pebbles have gathered into beds. To protect your back, pack a stick or shovel to sift through the fertile zones.

Perhaps most important: don’t tell others where you think you’ll find your best sea glass treasure or it may be snatched away before you get to it! Happy Hunting.


The North American Sea glass Festival has grown significantly, since the Lewes Festival. It is the biggest authentic Sea Glass Festival to date, and is held in a different part of the United States each year. To Find Out More about the Sea Glass Festival. go to their website North American Sea Glass and follow them on Facebook/seaglassassociation.

The 2008 The North American Sea Glass Festival was a huge success  in Lewes, so much so, that the Lewes Historical Society started a  yearly Sea Glass and Coastal Arts Festival which takes place towards the end of June each year.

Visit Michele shop in Lewes, DE and her website Sand N Stones  also Follow Sand N Stones Facebook Page


Posted in beachcombing, Glass, History, Nature, Pebbles, Sand N Stones, Delaware & Nature Shoppe, Sea Glass, sea glass / beach glass, stones, Uncategorized, Wire Wrapped Jewelry

Why is it important for me to know the Gemstone Moh’s Scale of Mineral Hardness?

I have been working on my website lately and have been including the Moh Scale of Hardness as part of the description. My father was looking over my website, and asked me what the Moh Scale was. I tried to explain it to him, and thought maybe you would like to know as well. It is important to know the Moh Scale for jewelry to determine how durable the stone is, and how you would wear the piece of jewelry. For example you may not want to wear a soft stone as ring, since we are usually hard on our hands and a soft stone would scratch easily, but you could wear a softer stone as earrings.

In 1812 the Moh’s scale of mineral hardness was devised by the German mineralogist Frederich Mohs (1773-1839). He selected the ten minerals because they were common or readily available. The scale is not a linear scale, but somewhat arbitrary.

Some minerals are very soft; others are very hard. The degree of hardness is an aid in identifying the minerals. Diamonds are harder than quartz and will therefore scratch quartz, quartz will scratch calcite, calcite will scratch gypsum, and so on. To help identify minerals, geologists have assigned numbers to the hardness of several minerals. In this hardness scale, the softer minerals are assigned a low number and the harder minerals a higher number.

In the field, an easy way of estimating the hardness of a mineral is by trying to scratch it with common objects such as a fingernail with a hardness of 2.5, a penny is the hardness of a 3, or a pocketknife, hardness 5.5. Glass has a hardness of slightly less than 6 and will scratch most minerals. Anything on the Moh’s scale that is less than a 7 is easily scratched.

Hardness Mineral Associations and Uses

2.5- Fingernail,
2.5-3 -Gold, Silver
3 -Copper penny
4-4.5 -Platinum
4-5- Iron
5.5- Knife blade
6-7- Glass
6.5- Iron pyrite
7+- Hardened steel file

To test a mineral for hardness, try to scratch it with one of these common objects. For example, a sample can be scratched by the knife (H=5.5) but NOT by the penny (H=3). Therefore, the sample has a hardness of about 4. Using other property tests that you will learn in lab, you then determine that the mineral is calcite.

The Moh’s Scale of Mineral Hardness goes as follows….

1 is Talc- Talcum powder.
2 is Gypsum- Plaster of Paris. Gypsum is formed when seawater evaporates from the Earth’s surface
3 is Calcite- Limestone and most shells contain calcite
4 is Fluorite- Fluorine in fluorite prevents tooth decay.
5 is Apatite- When you are hungry you have a big “appetite”.
6 is Orthoclase- Orthoclase is a feldspar, and in German, “feld” means “field
7 is Quartz
8 is Topaz- The November birthstone. Emerald and aquamarine are varieties of beryl with a hardness of 8.
9 is Corundum- Corundum Sapphire and ruby are varieties of corundum. Twice as hard as topaz.
10 is Diamond- Used in jewelry and cutting tools. Four times as hard as corundum

Sea glass is on a Moh scale of a 6-7 and that is why I do not recommend sea glass for rings. We are extremely hard on our hands and wrist and tend to bang them around, and as we all know glass will break. I do recommend using seaglass in pendants or in earrings.

Delaware Bay Diamonds are clear quartz crystals and have a Moh scale of a 7 and is fine to make jewelry out of.

How to Perform the Test

1. Select a fresh surface
2. Hold the sample and attempt to scratch it with the point of an object of known hardness, start at the higher (harder) end of the scale and work down. In this example, we use a sharp quartz crystal (Hardness = 6)
3. Press the object firmly but lightly against the unknown sample
4. If the test object is harder, you should see and feel a definite “bite” into the sample
5. Inspect for an etched line
In this case, we notice a deep scratch in the sample, which indicates it’s hardness is less than 6 . Repeat several times, always with a sharp point and a fresh surface.

From the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies

You Might Be A Rockhound If….

Visit Michele shop in Lewes, DE and her website Sand N Stones  also Follow Sand N Stones Facebook Page

Posted in Delaware, Delmarva, History, Lewes, Sand N Stones, Delaware & Nature Shoppe, Uncategorized

Lewes, Delaware Insignia

As you are driving around town or stroll down Second Street Downtown Historic Lewes, Delaware you may have noticed a new twist to the Lewes Coat Of Arms, which hang from the flag poles in the Spring. 

The big white house at 112 Front Street is located in a town that is humming with history. It is the home of  Sand N Stones, Delaware and Nature Shop owned by Michele Buckler.

Michele designs and crafts wire-framed jewelry. Typically customers in her shop pick out the stone from among hundreds of different semi-precious stones in her collection and she custom wraps in silver or gold wire to form a pendant, pin, earrings, or ring. Upon researching her craft, Michele discovered roots in some of her designs in the 17th century Holland.  To commemorate Lewes’ Dutch heritage, she designed a ring made entirely of wire using a braided pattern from this time period.

Marsha Holler is a graphic artist who like to say all her designs tell a story.  When Michele mentioned she had an idea for a graphic design that brought together Lewes’ Dutch English and American heritage, the ladies brought it quickly to life.

The earliest European settlers of the Sussex County coast were 32 Dutch men who arrived aboard the ship “Walvis” in April 1631. They called the spot Swanendael, later spelled Zwaanendael, or Valley of the Swans. The second settlers called the place Hoorn, after their home in Holland. The name changed often  in the beginning. In 1682, Delaware was conveyed to William Penn by the English Duke of York and Lewes received its present name in honor of the town of the town of the same name in England. It is pronounced Loo-iss.

The Coat of Arms that the City of Lewes uses on its police cruisers and on City Hall is actually from Lewes, East Sussex,  England. It’s origins date back to the Norman Conquest a thousand years ago.  The gold and blue checkers are the arms of the de Warenne family who held the Barony of Lewes from the time of the Norman Conquest until 1347, when the last de Warenne died.

A nephew, Richard Fitz Alan, Earl of Arundel, succeeded to the barony and added the gold lion on the red ground. The introduction of the silver crosslets has never been satisfactorily explained
they will probably remain a subject for speculation.

Tulips, like wooden shoes and windmills, are known all over the world as an emblem of the Netherlands. The humble flowering bulb had its origins in Persia and began trading throughout Europe The tulips were soon distributed throughout Holland. This was the beginning of the Dutch bulb business. Early in the 17th century, rich Dutchmen, Englishmen, and Frenchmen were competing with each other for these prize status symbols. Tulip appreciation became tulip-love, which then became what has come to be known as tulip-mannia.

Tulips were first sold in the 17th Century Netherlands by way of trade from Turkey and Russia. Where they had been cultivated for a long time. New varieties developed quickly including ones with flame like petals that were a result of disease.  Whether solid color or patterned, their relative ease of cultivation made the demand for tulips far greater than the supply.  Thus the “Tulip-mania” phenomena where ridiculously high prices were commanded for bulbs of the once humble wild tulip lower from Central Asia. The Netherlands are still today, after almost 400 years still identified with growing and supplying the world with the greatest variety of tulips.

Crawling on the tulip is a lady bug. Millie Rust-Brown’s second grade class from Lulu Ross Elementary School in Milford, Delaware studied state insects, and discovered that Delaware did not have a state insect. After much discussion, the class wrote then-governor Sherman Tribbertt with the request that the Ladybug become Delaware’s State Insect. With the help of some local high schoolers they took it to the Legislators.  Rep. Lewis B. Harrington introduced the House bill number 667, on March 9, 1974. On April 25,1974 the Ms. Brown’s class dressed up as ladybugs, and walked the halls of Leg Hall.  The vote was unanimous the lady bug was adopted as our state bug.

The idea of combining these three elements the Lewes Coat of Arms, the tulip and the ladybug to form a visual link to Lewes’ past. Separately it is just a shield, a flower, and a bug, but after reading about Delaware’s and Lewes’ fascinating past the three elements are symbolic.  The shield is official governance, the tulip is agriculture and the ladybug is natural beauty; all still present in Lewes.”

The inspired graphic design is available on various merchandise exclusively at Sand N Stones.  Lewes Insignia was designed and  Copyrighted by Michele J. Buckler in 2006. In 2010 it became the official Logo for the Lewes Chamber of Commerce’s  Tulip Festival.

The Coat of Arms is seen  throughout Lewes in many diffrent places. It was first used by Col. David Hall Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in the early 1950’s when they used the seal to mark historical significant buildings in the History of Lewes, Delaware. The History of Lewes Delaware book was published in 1956 and a revised edition appeared in 1981. The Chapter requested permission to use the Coat of Arms from the official of Lewes, East Sussex, England. The Police and Fire Department as well as City Hall all use the Coat of Arms in Lewes, Delaware.

The City Flag of Lewes also uses the Coat of Arms Seal  in the center of the flag. The flags blue and white background also has some historic significance. The original Lewes, Delaware settlers traveled from the Netherlands town of Hoorn in the North Holland province.  The Hoorn’s people first sailed South to the town of Veere, in the Zeeland Province. The flags background was adopted from the flag of Zeeland Province, (its name translated is “sea land”) since the Zeeland people share the affinity for the love of the sea.  The Hoorn’s people established the town of Lewes, Delaware in 1631.

The flag was designed by Alan Keffer a Lewes, DE resident. The flag was first used it 1991 and copyrighted in 1993 and was officially sanctioned as the city flag of Lewes, Delaware in 2005.  Resource Lewes Delaware, Celebrating 375 years of History, by Kevin N Moore page 19 ISBN 0974899887

Visit Michele shop in Lewes, DE and her website Sand N Stones  also Follow Sand N Stones Facebook Page