Photographs (left to right): Flowers, Florida; Sierra Mts., California; Flowers, Amicalola Falls, Georgia

Wampum Belt Archive


Treaty of Shackamaxon Belt

Source unknown

NMAI 053150.000

Photocopy of belts from the NY Times Nov. 26, 1916

R. D .Hamell Reproduction (2013)

Original Size:
Length: 24.8 inches. Width: 5.5 inches.
Beaded Length: 26.25 inches. Width: 8.0 inches. Length with fringe: 50.25
Length: 156 row by 18 rows wide. Total beads: 2,808.
Warp: leather. Weft: Artificial Sinew


Warp and weave: Cordage.

Catalog card description accompanying the sale of the belt at Christie's reported in the NY Times (1916) follows (Bottom: 4-Cross Belt):

"Treaty Belt. The Original Treaty Belt presented to William Penn by the Indians, consisting of eighteen strings of Wampum (25 1/4 in. by 5 1/4 in.) the ground being white, with four crosses or diagrams in violet-colored beads made for clam or mussel shells."

The smaller belt (top) description:

"Treaty Belt. A Similar Belt to the above, consisting of fifteen strings of Wampum, (25 in. by 5 in.), the ground white, with the diagrams in violet-colored beads. Originally there were three belts which belonged to the Penn family, but one was presented by Granville John Penn, great-grandson of William Penn, to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania."

A transcription given by Clarkson was: "the Indians pledged themselves to live in love with William Penn and his children as long as the Sun and Moon should endure."

These belts probably refer to what is known as the 'Elm Treaty'.

Given to William Penn in 1683 at the Treaty of Shackamaxon, one of the number of treaties by which the Quakers acquired land which later became the state of Pennsylvania. The crosses symbolize the land ceded. (NMAI).

Collection History (NMAI):

Belonged to William Penn and was the property of J. Merrick Head who in 1887 purchased the Penn estate known as Pennsylvania
Castle at Portland, England; subsequently sold at auction July 12, 1916 by Christie of London and purchased from the buyer at that sale by Mrs. Thea Heye and acquired by MAI in 1925 using funds given by MAI trustee Harmon W. Hendricks (1846-1928).


New York Times. 1916. William Penn's Wampum Belts Recently Found Abroad. Nov. 26.

New York Times. 1916. Museum Here Gets Historic Wampum. Nov. 21. NMAI Collection Catalog.

Tehanetorens. 1999. Wampum Belts of the Iroquois. Book Publishing Company, Summertown, TN.