WANIPIIIVI, the American Indian name for beads made of shells, formerly used as money, or as a medium of com merce. They were also united to form a broad belt, which was worn as an ornament, and was called wampum paque, or wampeaque. The manufacture of wampum is carried on among the Germans living in the hills of Bergen co., N. J. The interior of a wampum workshop resembles a limekiln. The floors are hidden from sight by great heaps of shells, and the rude benches and tools are covered entirely with white-flying dust as the shells are being ground and drilled, and suggests the application of innumerable coats of whitewash, which in fact it really is.
The wampum makers purchase a cartload of conch and clam shells for 25 cents, delivered at their doors, and when a shell of sufficient thickness is selected it is broken with hammer and chisel into cubes of about two inches in length and one-third of an inch square. This piece of shell is then se curely wedged into a vise made of two pieces of wood connected with a hinge in the center. The jaws of the vise are opened and the shells inserted. Then the vise is closed tightly and held by pressure against the grindstone. In this manner, in a short time, the edges of the shell are rounded, and then the drill is brought into use.
The workman sits at a three-legged table, the top of which is fashioned from the half of a log, the under side still retaining the original bark covering, and, affixing one end of the drill to play freely in a button on his jacket, he next takes up a whalebone bow, similar to the kind used by jewelers, and, giving the cord a turn about the spool on the drill, he works the bow rapidly back and forth, from right to left, till the sharp end of the drill penetrates through the cube of shell from end to end lengthwise. When a sufficient num ber of cubes are completed they are then smoothed and polished with emery paper and strung on wires, precisely the same as children string beads, and they are then ready for the market. The wampum that is made from the streaked, bluish parts of hard clam shells is the most beautiful and therefore more valuable, and is harder and tougher to work. The price paid for the products of this almost obsolete industry is 14 cents a running inch on the string, and the average amount of money made by these shell artisans is about $6 a day during the season.