Jingle Shell (Anomia simplex Orbigny, 1842) Jingle Shell (Anomia simplex Orbigny, 1842)

Jingle Shell
Anomia simplex Orbigny, 1842
A two-valve Jingle (bottom) is an uncommon find.

A Jingle (Shell) in Your Pocket

By Patricia B. Mitchell.

So named because a handful of these thin, translucent clamshell halves make a jingling sound when shaken together, Jingle Shells (Anomia simplex) are sometimes found as far north as the coast of Nova Scotia, and all the way down south to Brazil.

The bivalve (or pelecypod) halves are sometimes strung together to make wind-chime-like curtains for beach cottage windows or portières to hang in doorways. Julia Ellen Rogers also noted in her 1931 The Shell Book:

Pretty lampshades are made by piercing the valves near the hinge and stringing them, then attaching the strands so as to fit over the outside of a plain glass or porcelain shade, whose brightness is pleasantly mellowed by the network of shells.

The shells are 1"–2" in diameter and show a range of colors. Their surface is shiny like frosted nail polish. (Another name for the Jingle Shell is “Mermaid's Toenails.”)

Because the clam usually attaches itself to a rock or some other solid object, the upper half, or “valve,” is the shell most often found on beaches, for it frequently washes ashore after the animal dies. (The animal attaches itself to objects with its calcified byssus, a tuft of filaments.)

A more obscure name for the Jingle Shell is the “Saddle Oyster.” The raw meat of this bivalve is sharply bitter to the taste.


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