EUROPEAN PEARL FISHERIES 177
failed to find one pearl in a hundred shells, but at other times he
came across six or eight in this quantity. Most of the mussels are
found in the deepest places, especially near the banks of the streams.
One end of the shell usually projects out of the sand. The fisherman is
represented as feeling about the bottom with his feet, and when he
finds a shell, he seizes it between his toes, picks it out, and then
places it in the basket suspended from his neck.1
Baden and in Hesse are small pearl fisheries. In 1760, Elector
Maximilian III sent to Mannheim, then in the Palatinate, eight hundred
living pearl-mussels from the Bavarian forests, and again in 1769, he
sent four hundred mussels from Deggendorf on the Danube, so that they
might be established in the Palatinate. The mussels were placed in the
Steinbach not far from Heidelberg, where they thrived so well that
fishing was instituted in 1783. Soon, however, most of the mussels
became buried in the sand, and the remainder were transplanted into a
quieter portion of the Steinbach, between Kreutzsteinach and Schönau,
about five miles northeast of Heidelberg. Here they seem to have been
forgotten, and were left undisturbed until, about 1820, a fine pearl
valued at two louis d'or was found near Schönau. This discovery soon
led to such reckless exploitation that the government reserved the
fishery as a state monopoly. The mussels were examined and sorted, and
a portion of the brook was specially prepared for their reception.
However, the cost of supervision was greater than the proceeds of the
fishery, and the business was rented to private parties for a very
small amount. This was paid as late as 1840 by the Natural History
Society of Mannheim, the annual rate then being ten florins.
effort was made nearly two hundred years ago to develop the pearl
fisheries in Hesse. In 1717, Landgrave Prince William requested his
cousin, Duke Moritz of Saxony, to send a pearl fisherman "to examine
some streams in his territory where mussels have been found and to
determine whether they are fitted for pearl fishing and whether
fisheries can be established." 2 In the following year, a
member of the famous Schmerler family from the Saxon fisheries was sent
to Cassel, but with what result is unknown.
the pearling excitement developed at Schönau about 1820, Landrath
Welker, of Hirschhorn on the Neckar, requested the grand duke of Hesse
to place him in charge #of the fishery, and when the
proposition was declined, he formed a small company for pearl culture.
In 1828 his company had 558 mussels, 88 of which showed pearl for-
1 Möbius, "Die echten Perlen," Hamburg, p. 165 ; Von Hessling, "Die Perlenmuscheln," 1858, p. 47.
2 Jahn, "Voigtländische Perlenfischerei,"