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South Carolina African Americans – Tabby, Tabby Shells

Also see: African-Americans - 1525-1865 main page

Tabby is a mixture of shell (an aggregate), lime (often made from burnt shells which serve as a cement), and water. It is put up in forms and allowed to harden. During the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, lowcountry planters used tabby to build not only their own dwellings, but also slave houses, dairies, barns, fences, and even some grave monuments. Tabby was used not because it was easy or particularly convenient, but because brick was in such short supply. Tabby tended to hold up very well, as long as its outer stucco "skin" was kept in good shape and as long as the building was "tied" together by internal timbers.


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