Friday, September 9

10E2563: Mortgage Button

"Detail of the "mortgage button" on the Thomas Macy house front stairway. The house is located at 99 Main Street. Built in 1770, the house is now owned by the Nantucket Historical Association."
- photo courtesy of the Nantucket Historical Association.

A tradition from Nantucket that you may find in other New England homes; the mortgage button. When the mortgage was paid off, the papers were burned and the ashes placed in a prominent stairway's newel post, then the post topped with a piece of scrimshaw, often with the owner's initials etc but originally was plain. Now these are often made of ivory, not whale bone, and is common to be installed upon sale or construction and not stuck down until mortgage paid off. Forget scrimshaw, even ivory buttons run around $150... A long time ago found the below on eBay ... owner said it is plastic. For $7.50 was worth finding out... (Item is handturned on Nantucket natch'.)