Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum

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Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum treasures 

Trek to Santa Cruz Beach Glass Festival


Nags Head, N.C. … A rare sea glass and beachcomber’s artifact collection will leave the East Coast for the Santa Cruz Sea Glass and Ocean Art Festival in California, Nov. 3 and 4.

The occasion will mark only the third time in history that pieces from the Outer Banks Beachcomber Museum’s Nellie Myrtle Pridgen collection have left Nags Head, North Carolina in the last 60 years.

Museum stewards Dorothy Hope and Chaz Winkler have culled select items from the exhibit’s permanent collection featured in an October 1987 National Geographic story written by Charles E. Cobb Jr.

This month, a priceless string lip shard, a Dutch gin bottle bottom,a deep teal Baltimore beer bottle and a stunning amber Vaseline jar bottom will leave Nags Head bound for Santa Cruz. 

 String lip bottle, circa mid-1700's

Richard LaMotte, North American Sea Glass Association president and author of the bestselling Pure Sea Glass, has visited the Beachcomber Museum and has appraised the collection for its rare treasures.


LaMotte says,“When it comes to beachcombers of the 20th century, no one single collection comes close to the wealth of artifacts as those amassed by Nellie Myrtle Pridgen. Her trove of gifts from the shoreline and dunes of Nags Head serves as a 60-year time capsule of life on the Atlantic as items adrift from north and south found respite along North Carolina's Outer Banks. The shelves of a once thriving grocery store display thousands of stunning sea glass shards and dozens of antique bottles.”


“Like the reclusive collector herself, the diverse items from our past have remained mostly out of the public eye,” LaMotte says. “She passed away in 1992 and never desired attention for her collection. Chaz Winkler and Dorothy Hope now carefully watch the store and its treasure. Their reluctance to move anything out of the nest is easily understood. Members of the beachcombing community would likely agree this is the immaculate collection.”

Carole Lambert, author of A Passion for Sea Glass, devoted an entire chapter, “Soul of the Outer Banks,” to Nellie Myrtle Pridgen and the Beachcomber Museum’s collection.