Shortcut Navigation:

The Pearlies

A unique sort of royalty emerged in London in the 1880s, when costermongers--street vendors selling fruits and vegetables--began decorating their trousers and jackets with rows of mother-of-pearl buttons. Henry Croft, a street sweeper, became the first real Pearly, completely covering his clothing with buttons, including hat and bow tie. Soon London had 300 Pearly kings and queens "ruling" its various districts. As street peddling has declined, the Pearlies continue to appear in full regalia at events to raise money for hospitals and orphanages.

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Phone: 212-769-5100

Open daily from 10 am - 5:45 pm
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Maps and Directions

Enlighten Your Inbox

Stay informed about Museum news and research, events, and more!