A is for Artifact

Featured Fragment – Marriott Alphabet Cup

By Kerry S. González and Dr. Kerri S. Barile

For this month’s blog we are reaching way back into the archives to one of Dovetail’s first large-scale projects. In early 2006, the City of Fredericksburg and the Inns of Fredericksburg LLC employed Dovetail to investigate the history of a lot on the corner of Caroline and Charlotte streets in Fredericksburg, Virginia, now the location of the Courtyard by Marriott. The study, completed over the course of several months, uncovered more than 300 years of layered occupational history, a common occurrence on urban archaeological sites (Photo 1). These included: 1) part of the foundation of Roger Dixon’s early- to mid-eighteenth-century store; 2) the rear section of the circa 1773–1832 Indian Queen Tavern; 3) a rear work area associated with the Indian Queen; 4) a late-1830s Servant Quarter built over both the eighteenth-century building and the Tavern; 5) an 1840s brick alley wall; and 6) an early-twentieth-century porch stoop. All told, over 70,000 artifacts were retrieved during Dovetail’s excavation, two of which will be highlighted in this post.

Photo 1: Overview of the Marriott Excavation Area Showing the Many Foundations Exposed During the Archaeology Study.

The two artifacts presented in this blog are from an alphabet cup, an uncommon find on archaeological sites. These two fragments represent two sides of one brown transfer print whiteware cup. Alphabet Wares were most commonly produced on plates, with cups seemingly being less favorable to potters. They were first made in England beginning in the late-eighteenth century with production continuing throughout the twentieth century (kovels.com). These vessels were made for children with the intent of teaching them their A,B,Cs. As seen in Photo 2 the alphabet letters on the cup found at the Marriott site are printed in a large, easy to read format. Alphabet Ware plates typically had decorated centers with scenes appealing to a child, such as animals or children’s activities. Cups were decorated with similar childlike motifs like the example shown in Photo 3 that depicts a lazy day on the river.

Photo 2: Alphabet Ware Cup Fragments Recovered During Marriott Excavation Decorated with a Brown Transfer Print and Daisy Motif.

 

Photo 3: Nineteenth-Century Brown Transfer Printed Cup with Boat Motif on Complete Cup Representing the Same Design on the Cup Found During the Marriott Excavations (Ebay 2017).

This semi-hands-on learning style was not unique to Alphabet Ware or even the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. During medieval times and through the eighteenth century, children used what is known as a hornbook (Figure 1 and Photo 4). A hornbook was a paddle-shaped piece of wood with a piece of parchment or paper containing a lesson affixed to the board. The parchment or paper was mounted in a frame and covered with a very thin piece of horn or mica to keep the parchment intact and safe from a child’s dirty hands. The handle portion was purely to make holding the learning device easier for both the child and the instructor, be it a parent, nanny, or tutor. The lessons typically consisted of letters (sometimes both upper and lowercase) above Arabic numbers followed by the Lord’s Prayer.

According to Moya Cove (2006), the eighteenth-century learning style known as the ‘gingerbread method’ was a direct result of the phonic-based hornbook. In a move away from the monotony of learning letters from a board, teachers and parents alike strove to revive learning by making letters out of gingerbread (Cove 2006). However, years prior to making actual letters from gingerbread dough, baked goods decorated with letters were sold in open market stalls (faqs.org 2006).

Regardless of when and how children learned their letters, the idea of integrating learning into daily life and activities has remained a constant throughout history. Today, homes with children likely have more educational aides than can ever be used. And to think, 200 years ago, simple gingerbread dough and a cup with letters was more than enough. Perhaps they also practiced letters with a stick in the dirt but they certainly managed without all the bells and whistles we have in 2017.

 For more information on Alphabet Wares visit the Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland Webpage which has an excellent article on this type of ceramic and date ranges for the various styles.

Figure 1: ‘Miss Campion’ Holding a Hornbook, 1661 (thenonist.com 2003).

 

Photo 4: Typical Hornbooks (thenonist.com 2003).

 

 

Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.

References: 

Cove, Moya
2006    Sounds Familiar: The Historic of Phonics Teaching. In, Phonics: Practice, Research and Policy, edited by Maureen Lewis and Sue Ellis, pp. 105–112. Paul Chapman Publishing, Thousand Oak, California.

Ebay
2017    Staffordshire Alphabet ABC Mug. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Staffordshire-Alphabet-ABC-Mug-4-boys-and-a-row-boat-/141806025511, accessed May 2017.

faqs.org
2006    ABC Books. On-line documentation. http://www.faqs.org/childhood/A-Ar/ABC-Books.html, accessed May 2017.

Kovels.com
2011    ABC Plates; Collectors’ Concerns. http://www.kovels.com/20009070881
63/Collectors-Concerns/abc-plate.html, accessed 2011.

Thenonist.com
2003    The Humble Hornbook. On-line documentation. http://thenonist.com/index.php/
thenonist/permalink/the_humble_hornbook/, accessed May 2017.

“I Ain’t Gonna Study War No More, Down by the Riverside….”

Featured Fragment – Archaeology in Downtown Fredericksburg

By Joe Blondino and Dr. Kerri Barile

In January 2017, the City of Fredericksburg sponsored an archaeological dig at the site of the new Riverfront Park on Sophia Street in the downtown historic district. The site (44SP0069-1) was first explored in August 2013 during preliminary studies as part of the City’s park planning initiative. The archaeological survey, conducted by Dovetail, uncovered the foundations of 14 buildings, including several 18th and 19th century homes, a pre-Civil War ice house, privies, and a possible slave quarter. A portion of the site was accidentally disturbed during area construction in the fall 2015, exposing archaeological features and human remains. The City and Dovetail conducted additional work on the site in October 2015 to conduct salvage excavations on the disturbed features. The remains of a probable antebellum slave quarter and the backyard of the circa 1750 Rowe-Goolrick House (the foundation of which is now under a nearby parking lot) were uncovered, as well as Civil War trenches and a stone boundary wall.  The Rowe-Goolrick House, like many dwellings in town, was used as a hospital during the 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg, and the human remains found during the dig may have belonged to Union soldiers who died while under treatment at the hospital. DNA analysis and other scientific techniques are currently being employed to possibly identify the lineage of the remains.

Riverfront Park site (44SP0069-1) overview

As plans for the new Riverfront Park are developed, additional archaeological work is being conducted on the site as part of the City’s commitment to historic preservation and archaeological study. Dovetail returned to the site in January 2017 to complete the excavations of the disturbance area begun in 2015. The goal was to further explore the building foundations, back yard area, and Civil War trenches that were found during the earlier work. The team also wants to assure that all human remains possibly buried in the area are removed and properly treated. As of the authoring of this blog, Dovetail has identified a section of a Civil War-era entrenchment as well as archaeological features related to the 18th century occupation of the area, such as post holes and refuse pits.

Artifacts recovered during the excavations also highlight the 18th and 19th century activities of the lot. Fragments of ceramics, nails, bottle glass, and personal items such as smoking pipe fragments and shoe buckles have been recovered. Particular artifacts of note include three Burnside carbine cartridges and a lid to a cast iron Dutch oven (pictured below). The Burnside cartridges almost certainly relate to Civil War activity on the site. The .54 caliber Burnside carbine was designed in the mid-1850s by Ambrose Burnside, who would later lead the Federal Army during the Battle of Fredericksburg. The breech-loading Burnside carbine, being relatively small and quick to load, was used primarily by Union Cavalry. However, with tens of thousands of them issued to Federal troops, they were not an uncommon weapon and captured Burnsides could have been used by Confederates as well. Although it is not definitively a military object, the Dutch oven lid is consistent with cookware that would have been used by groups of soldiers preparing and consuming communal meals.

Recovered Burnside carbine cartridges

Recovered Burnside carbine cartridges

Information gleaned from the work will be presented in a report, at public talks, and in interpretive panels to be mounted at the site as part of the park design. The success of the archaeological project relies on the teamwork of many groups—the City of Fredericksburg, Rhodeside & Harwell (park designers), Downey & Scott (construction managers), Dovetail, and others. Partnership, coordination, and communication have assured that this notable site is explored and the history of this area is shared with future generations.

Dovetail archaeologists, Stephen Mohs, uncovering a dutch oven lid

 

intact dutch oven

Example of an intact dutch oven

 

Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.

Footsteps in the Attic

Featured Fragment – Salubria’s Hidden Shoe

By M. Chris Manning

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Slipper recovered by Dovetail from the attic at Salubria, a mid-eighteenth century Georgian home in Culpeper County, Virginia.

The slipper shown to the left was recovered from an ‘excavation’ in the attic at Salubria, a mid-eighteenth-century Georgian home in Culpeper County, Virginia. This shoe is believed to have been purposefully placed or concealed within the eaves during a mid-nineteenth-century renovation of the roof. The shoe dates to the early nineteenth century and is composed of woven wool with a leather backing and leather sole. Linen lined at least a portion of the shoe, although it is difficult to tell if the entire piece had a lining. Natural wear and a high degree of rodent activity have compromised much of the interior of the shoe.

In the United States, more than 250 cases of concealed shoes have been reported, almost all of which have been described as “old” or “worn,” like the shoe found at Salubria. Fireplaces, hearths, and chimneys are the most common location for concealed shoes, followed by ceilings and subfloor spaces, inside walls, and in attics and roof cavities. The majority of deposits consist of a single shoe or boot, but “families” of several unmatched shoes are also common. Statistically, a little less than half of the examples reported in the U.S. consist of children’s shoes (46 percent), and there is a fairly even distribution among the adult men’s and women’s shoes.

Several theories for shoe concealment have been proposed: a builder’s tradition, a fertility charm, a method for attracting beneficial household spirits, a means of repelling harmful spirits, witches, and demons from entering a building, and as a general good luck charm. In British and Irish folklore, shoes and clothing were believed to both attract and repel supernatural household spirits. These helpful spirits came out at night to lend a hand around the house and farm, often doing the more tedious work while the family slept. In addition to doing odd jobs, many of these spirits also acted as protectors of the family, the home, and the livestock. Although generally benign and helpful, domestic spirits had a capricious streak and liked to play pranks on members of the household. Gifts of shoes and clothes were frequently offered to placate the domestic spirits; however, for some unknown reason, some were inexplicably repelled by offerings of clothing. Numerous tales of both helpful and mischievous spirits being “laid” with a gift of clothes can be found throughout the British Isles. One literary adaptation of this belief was famously conveyed through the popular book series Harry Potter, in which Dobby the house elf is freed by the gift of an old sock.

In addition to attracting and repelling household spirits, concealed shoes may also have been used to protect the home from more nefarious supernatural beings. In the U.S., burning shoes was said to repel witches and ghosts, while shoes under the bed would keep away nightmares and nocturnal spirits. According to one account, “If someone comes to your house and you think they are a witch and you don’t want them to come in, lay an old shoe in the door; and if she is a witch, they cannot step over the shoe” (Hyatt 1935).

It was widely believed that demons, witches, and their familiars were able to enter a house through cracks, keyholes, chimneys, and other small apertures. This may be why concealed shoes are most commonly found in liminal spaces that mark the boundary between the outside world and the interior of the house, like where the Salubria shoe was found.

The shoe and other artifacts recovered during Dovetail’s Salubria ‘excavation’ ended up in the attic through a variety of human and animal activities. Items, like the shoe, were purposefully brought to the attic and concealed to protect the home from things that go bump in the night.

 

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A 17th-century house under attack by demonic spirits and non-human beings (Glanvill 1682:frontispiece).

 

manning-postcard-cropped

Early 20th-century postcard from England, associating old shoes with horseshoes and good luck. From the collection of M. Chris Manning, used with permission.

Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.

References:

Glanvill, Joseph
1682 Saducismus Triumphatus: or, Full and Plain Evidence Concerning Witches and Apparitions, In two parts. T. Newcomb for S. Lownds, London, England. Electronic document, http://sceti.library.upenn.edu/sceti/printedbooksNew/index.cfm?TextID=glanvill_1&PagePosition=3, accessed October 2016.

Hyatt, Harry Middleton
1935 Folk-Lore from Adams County, Illinois. Alma Egan Hyatt Foundation, New York, NY.

History Well-Preserved

Featured Fragment – Nineteenth-Century Pickle Bottles

By Kerry González 

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Gothic Revival style shown in the design of the pickle bottle

Recent excavations by Dovetail, conducted on behalf of Stafford County, recovered two cathedral-style pickle bottles (displayed below). They were located within two separate trash pits at a Civil War-era encampment in the town of Falmouth in Stafford County, occupied between 1862 and 1863. The area is now part of Pratt Park.

Bottles such as these were often used to hold foods that had been preserved through drying, smoking, pickling, etc. (Society for Historical Archaeology [SHA] 2016). This process, developed by M. Nicolas Appert, began during the Napoleonic War era as a means to help the military store foods for longer periods of time (SHA 2016). Appert’s process, formalized in 1809, began with direct heat which killed the bacteria in the food. This was followed up by the installation of an airtight seal over the mouth of the vessel to avoid additional contamination. Oddly, scientists of the time, Appert included, did not fully understand how or why the process of heating and sealing of a container preserved perishables for long periods of time; they just knew it worked (SHA 2016).

The ornate pint-sized bottles shown here exhibit a wide mouth, which allowed for bulky and large foods, such as pickles, to be packed and removed easily. The design of the bottle features beautiful elongated cathedral windows; it is a reflection of the Gothic Revival style en vogue during the mid-nineteenth century in America (SHA 2016). This revival not only affected the style of bottles of the time but architecture as well. Houses reflective of Gothic Revival style often feature steeply pitched roofs with a central cross gable lined with decorated vergeboards (ornate trimwork lining the roof eaves), a one-story entry or full-width porch, and windows with Gothic detailing, including drip molds, pointed arch (lancet), or false shaping (McAlester 2013 267–268). Clearly it was a popular motif and one that extended to even the most seemingly ordinary of objects—the humble pickle jar.

picklebottlepicklebottle2_reverse

 

 

Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.

References:

Society for Historical Archaeology
2016 Society for Historical Archaeology Historic Glass Bottle Identification & Information Website. https://sha.org/bottle/index.htm, accessed September 2016.

McAlester,Virginia Salvage
2013 A Field Guide to American Houses. Alfred A.Knopf, New York, New York.

Hugh Smith & Co. Stoneware

Featured Fragment – Stoneware Sleuthing

By Joe Blondino

new stoneware_edited-1

Recovered Sherd of Hugh Smith & Co. Stoneware

During the summer of 2015, Dovetail conducted exploratory excavations on the grounds of Tudor Place, a historic Federal-style mansion in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.  The excavations focused on the yard of the building now housing Tudor Place’s administrative offices. This building, known as the Dower House, was a dwelling constructed sometime around 1867, roughly 50 years after the completion of the Tudor Place mansion. The house was built on what was once a portion of the grounds of Tudor Place itself, prior to the subdivision of the property into smaller parcels. As such, Dovetail’s excavations revealed artifacts related to the occupation of the Dower House, as well as earlier artifacts relating to the main Tudor Place mansion and other associated buildings and activities.

Among the artifacts recovered was a sherd of blue and gray salt-glazed stoneware (pictured above). This type of ceramic was commonly used in the nineteenth century and is frequently recovered on archaeological sites. Vessels made of this ware included crocks, storage jars, and other utilitarian forms. These vessels were usually produced locally, as they were relatively easy to make and fire and few people wanted to pay the added cost involved in importing such commonplace, practical vessels from far away. Tablewares like plates, bowls, and teacups, on the other hand, were meant to impress, and would be imported from overseas manufacturers who were set up to produce more beautiful and delicate ceramics.

Despite how common salt-glazed stoneware is on archaeological sites, Dovetail archaeologists got an unusual bonus with this particular fragment: it was embossed with the name of the manufacturer. The sherd was clearly stamped with the name “HUGH SMITH & CO.” A bit of research revealed that stonewares were being manufactured under the Hugh Smith name in nearby Alexandria, Virginia in the nineteenth century, showing that the residents of the Tudor Place property were indeed obtaining locally produced stonewares. As thrilling as it was to discover this level of detail in the archaeological record at the site, it gets even better—we could narrow the manufacturing date range of our sherd down to only a few years. As it turns out, pottery bearing the Hugh Smith name started being made around 1821, but only used the “HUGH SMITH & CO.” mark until 1825, when it was exchanged for the slightly abbreviated “H. SMITH & CO.” Not only did we find out where this fragment was manufactured, but we narrowed the production date down to a period of only five years! Although it is difficult to say when the vessel was broken and discarded, this nonetheless provides us with valuable information about the consumer habits of members of the Tudor Place household during a very brief window of time and allows us to make inferences about more general patterns of consumer behavior during that period.

Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.

To learn more about the Alexandria, Virginia pottery that produced the sherd, go to: https://www.alexandriava.gov/historic/archaeology/default.aspx?id=33638#smith

 

Time For Tea

Featured Fragment – Mended Pearlware Tea Bowl

By Kerry S. González

Tea Bowl

Pearlware Tea Bowl

Several hundreds of years before tea was being consumed in the Americas (and even Britain), it was widely consumed in Asia. European traders residing in Asia during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries adopted the habit of daily tea drinking, and tea quickly found its way to Britain. Starting in the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth century, tea began to be defined as “a feminized drink.” Its role in defining the domestic sphere and the concept of womanhood grew stronger as the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries wore on (Gray 2013:25). The association became so close that, eventually, women were compared to china, and “china came to stand as a metaphor for virtue” (Gray 2013:28). This same ideology was brought to the Americas, where tea quickly became a beverage staple.


The importance of tea to early American households was highlighted at the Houston-LeCompt site in New Castle County, Delaware, a site investigated on behalf of Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). A total of 107 fragments of teacups, tea saucers, and teapots was recovered from the site, serving as an indication of its roll in daily consumption patterns. The time range associated with pearlware (circa 1775−1840), the most common type of teaware recovered (n=57), likely associates these artifacts with the Houston family occupation (1780s–1820).


Decorated pearlwares from the Houston-LeCompt site exhibited a range of designs, though blue decoration predominated in different decorative patterns. The Houstons likely purchased individual pieces rather than sets of pearlware to fill out their tea set. Prior to the mid-nineteenth century, pattern books that marketed pearlware to the mid-range market illustrated designs individually, rather than as sets. Only the most elaborate, and therefore expensive, designs were marketed as sets, primarily to the upper class, and research and the archaeological investigations have proven that the Houston’s were not upper-class citizens. While it was possible to put together matching sets, it does not appear that middle-class consumers regarded matching sets as essential.


The tea bowl recovered from the Houston-LeCompt site (pictured above) is an early type of pearlware known as China Glaze with cobalt hand painting in a Chinese House motif. It is similar to the tea bowl being used in a 1725 painting entitled “An English Family at Tea” by Joseph Van Aken (pictured below). Although not all fragments from this tea bowl were recovered during the dig, the mending completed by Dovetail’s archaeological lab illustrates the vessel’s form and decoration. The pattern is a direct imitation of more expensive porcelains of the period. While the Houstons may not have assembled matching sets or imported porcelains, they still aspired to a more refined and fashionable aesthetic.

English Family At Tea

Van Aken, Joseph. An English Family at Tea. 1725.

Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.

References:

Gray, Annie
2013 ‘The Proud Air of an Unwilling Slave’: Tea, Women, and Domesticity, c. 1700–1900. Springer Publishing. New York, New York.

What’s in the Attic?

Featured Fragment – Archaeology in historic Salubria’s attic

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Historic Salubria

On August 23, 2011, 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck central Virginia with its epicenter in Louisa County. The earthquake caused massive damage to eighteenth-century Salubria, a Georgian home located in Culpeper County, Virginia and owned by The Memorial Foundation of the Germanna Colonies In Virginia, Inc. (The Foundation).

The damage caused by the 2011 earthquake required extensive repairs to the original roof truss system, roof cladding, and chimneys. Prior to installation of associated new attic flooring, Dovetail Cultural Resource Group, at the request of The Foundation, was hired to remove the detritus that had accumulated on the attic “floor” over the years. Because the process involved hand removal of soil, dust, and other materials through careful, controlled digging, the project was termed an “archaeological excavation” despite its location two stories above the ground surface.

Using the building’s structural system, Dovetail laid in a “grid” to divide the attic into 12 sections. All artifacts were bagged by section to examine the deposition of the artifacts. More than 12,000 artifacts were recovered from the attic, including over 350 pieces of cloth of varying size and material, nails, personal items, and paper.

Dovetail archaeologist hard at work!

Dovetail archaeologist hard at work!

The thousands of pieces of paper found in the attic are a direct reflection of both the humans who lived at Salubria and the animals who carried the goods to the attic. One of the most remarkable intact paper fragments was a personal letter from 1862! This haunting letter speaks of the first student death at Farmville Female College (Longwood University) and speaks of the demise and death of Molly Priott (see transcription below the letter).

Front of letter from the Farmville Female College.

Front of letter from the Farmville Female College.

back

Back of letter from the Farmville Female College.

 

The death of our dear Mollie is as great a shock to us as it can possibly be to you my precious friend – we did not know the poor child was sick until Sunday when we all thought she had neuralgia, at a late hour last night the Dr. pronounced her disease congestion of the brain – her mother at 10 o’clock last night, no later when I left her, did not seem to apprehend any danger – at five this morning word came to me that she was dying. I went hastily up…[unreadable]

the children, half conscious, half unconscious, of their loss. – I have just left her, little May and I being the last to look upon the loved face of mine the last kiss upon her brow. The coffin is closed and we can not see her more until we all go home where you and we will live again with our beloved.

We have service in the chapel this evening at six, and Mr. Preot goes with the corpse to Petersburg to-night. Write to Mrs. P or come to see her to-morrow. – I feel so obliged to you for your sympathy, it is the first death in our school and keenly felt by Mr. [La chonde] and myself.

I hope to see you soon. – God bless you, my dear, dear friend and be to you all He has promised. Love to you mother and the children –

Tuesday 14th Jan, 1862, Truly and fondly your friend

R…

The 12,000-plus artifacts found during the excavation shed light on the lives of the residents of Salubria. Because this type of “excavation” is rare, these fragile, perishable artifacts are typically lost. This was truly a unique and amazing, albeit filthy, experience for Dovetail!

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Dr. Kerri Barile, Dovetail’s president, after a day in the attic!

Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.

To learn more about Salubria, or Germanna Castle, visit http://germanna.org/.

Dolls of many parts

Featured Fragment – Houston-LeCompt archaeological site’s dolls

For hundreds of years, dolls have been a staple in homes with young children.  When discovered archaeologically, these playthings reveal much about the culture of those who played with them.  Dolls belonged to girls and were used not only for play, but to teach gender specific management skills such as being a good hostess, wife, and mother (Krofft 2014; 58).   As historical archaeologist and author Jane Eva Baxter reiterates, “Adults use toys as a means of defining age, gender, social class, and as a mechanism for delegating particular tasks, behaviors, and attitudes” (Baxter 2005).  Even today, dolls are used to encourage children to act like adults and ‘playact’ household tasks such as taking care of their baby, hosting tea time, or going to the store.

Fiona Doll low brow china doll

“Fiona”, a Hertwig low brow china doll with blue ribbons painted at knees. Stewart 2013

A number of doll parts were recovered from the Houston-LeCompt site in New Castle County, Delaware. The site, which dates to the late-eighteenth through early-twentieth century, began as a middling farmstead and transitioned to a tenant-owned farm in later years. Doll parts recovered from the Houston-LeCompt site include arm, leg, face, hair, and feet fragments belonging to a variety of doll types.

The jointed arm fragments, pictured below, belong to all bisque miniature dolls made of unglazed porcelain called bisque. These dolls were first produced in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries in Germany and France and populated children’s doll houses. Most all bisque miniature dolls are unmarked; therefore, deducing exact origins and dates is difficult without the doll’s clothing.

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Sample of Bisque miniature doll jointed arms from the Houston-LeCompt Site, Delaware

Bisque Miniature doll

Bisque miniature doll with jointed arms and legs. Ebay.com 2015

Bisque porcelain leg fragments were also recovered at the site—some with markings, some without. Those with markings allow for further analysis and identification. The porcelain leg fragments recovered belonged to china-limb dolls, a doll with a head and limbs made of porcelain attached to a non-porcelain body. These fragments allow for easier dating due to their reflection of fashion at the time of production. As in today’s world, a doll’s fashion changes to stay up to date with the latest trends. One leg fragment recovered has a blue hand-painted ribbon at the knee, similar to the low brow “Fiona” china doll pictured above. Elaborate stocking and garter decorations, like the blue ribbon, became popular later in the nineteenth century.  Another fragment recovered was a pink heeled shoe. Because the shoe has a heel, it is presumed to be dated post-1870, as that is when heeled shoes became increasingly popular.

legs

Hand-painted china-limb doll leg, china doll foot, and bisque china-limb doll leg recovered from the Houston-LeCompt Site, Delaware

Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.

References:

Bach, Jean
1983 The Main Street Pocket Guide to Dolls. The Main Street Press. Pittstown, New Jersey.

Baxter, Jane Eva
2005 The Archaeology of Childhood: Children, Gender, and Material Culture. AltaMira Press. Walnut Creek, California.

Ebay
2015 Image of Bisque miniature doll with jointed arms and legs, accessed December 21, 2015,http://www.ebay.com/itm/321844012225

Krofft, Heidi E.
2012    Growing Up A Washington: Childhood in 18th-Century Virginia.University of Massachusetts Historical Archaeology Program. Boston, Massachusetts.

Stewart, Jennifer
2013 Image of “Fiona,” a Hertwig low brow china doll with blue ribbons painted at knees, accessed December 21, 2015 https://quintessentialantiquedolls.wordpress.com/tag/dorothy/

Artifacts recovered for the Delaware Department of Transportation and the FHWA

Digging by the River

Featured Fragment—Riverfront Park

During the summer of 2013 Dovetail conducted excavations at the Riverfront Park in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Many cultural features were identified, including a large icehouse which served the residents of Fredericksburg. While excavation of this feature produced a plethora of artifacts, one particular piece of ceramic is highlighted in this blog to showcase how archaeologists use tiny fragments to look at the bigger picture and determine, in many cases, the type of vessel the piece originated from. Below is a small fragment of an overglazed printed creamware which was popular beginning in the 1760s. This particular piece is printed with a Corinthian column and even though only a small portion of the column is visible, archaeolgoists were able to identify the motif once depicted on the vessel. The ‘classical ruins’ motif was found on bowls as well as trenchers and was a direct reflection of the neoclassical revival being embraced by everyone beginning in the mid-eighteenth century (Kaktins 2015). Surviving pieces can still be found today on auction websites.

This type of research and analysis is a common component of archaeological work. Knowing how artifacts relate to a site and its occupants, is key to understanding site history as well as overarching historic patterns.

full platter Creamware copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Any distributions of blog content, including text or images, should reference this blog in full citation. Data contained herein is the property of Dovetail Cultural Resource Group and its affiliates.

Glowing Glass Discovery

Featured Fragment—Vaseline Glass

In a recent excavation Dovetail Cultural Resource group found several fragments of what is known as Vaseline glass. This glass ranges in color from yellow to green and was manufactured from the 1840s to 1940. What is interesting about this type of glass is it was made with Uranium, which is the reason for its distinctive color. This type of glass was produced until WWII at which time the shortage of Uranium put an end to its production. What is the best way to identify Vaseline glass? If put under a black light, the glass will light up. The Uranium makes the glass emit radiation and glow, or a Geiger counter can be used to determine whether it is radioactive. The vessel found by Dovetail registered at 0.15 milliroentgens per hour. Is this a dangerous level? No, the amount put out by this type of glass is small and not harmful.

Image of Vaseline Glass. On left: yellow tumbler base and body fragment. One right: tumbler under black light.

Image of Vaseline Glass. On left: yellow tumbler base and body fragment. One right: tumbler under black light.

 

Joe Blondino using Geiger counter on Vaseline glass.

Joe Blondino using Geiger counter on Vaseline glass.

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