"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'.)