Thursday, July 19, 2018

Transfer Prints on Three Pearlware Vessels

I’m Brianna Birch! I’m going into my sophomore year in college at RIT. My major is Sociology & Anthropology and I’m on an Archaeology track. I wanted to get in some field and lab work over the summer so I decided to come to Strawbery Banke. In the lab session, we worked with artifacts from the Yeaton-Walsh site. I chose to work with pearlware ceramics, more specifically transfer-printed pearlware. Most transferware is blue, but there are some other colors. I matched, labeled, and  mended several pieces. With several nearly complete vessels, I was able to identify and research the prints on a black transfer-printed plate, a purple-pink transfer-printed sugar bowl, and a set of blue transfer-printed saucer and matching cups.  These pieces are from different periods of the 19th century, and were likely used by different tenants of the Yeaton-Walsh House.

This is an 8 inch plate with black transfer print, known as “Venture.” The print has Romantic or Classical motifs, and it portrays four figures of different sizes that stand on a river bank near an urn that is on a pedestal in the right foreground. The rim of the plate is decorated with flowers, and oval cartouches lined with vines. In the center of each cartouche, there is a castle with three small rectangle towers. The maker of the piece is Ralph Hammersley (& Son), who operated from 1859-1905 in Tunstall & Burslem, Staffordshire. The maker’s mark is a large cartouche, lined with vines, with Venture written inside. Underneath the cartouche is R. H., Ralph Hammersley’s initials.

This is a white sugar bowl with a purple-pink transfer print, and it portrays a Romantic-style landscape theme. The print is a variation of a print known as “Infant Sports,” and portrays three children playing. Behind them is a church off in the distance, with domed steeples. The scene is outlined by large flowers and trees and repeats on the opposite side. The top rim is outlined in a dark purple. The maker of the original Infant Sports print is William Smith (& CO.) from 1825-1855 from Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, so this variation is likely also from the mid-19th century. There are two marks on the bottom of this piece, one which reads “Porcelain Opaque,” and one that resembles a cross or an X.

These pieces are a from a tea set with blue transfer print called “Canova.” The print shows two figures, a man and a woman, near a large urn at the water’s edge. The man is seated playing a stringed instrument, and the woman is standing near him watching. Across the water, in the distance, there are stylized classical buildings. The rim of the saucer is decorated similarly to the cup, with the same large urn, but instead of two figures nearby there is a ship with three sails. The maker of these pieces is George Phillips, who worked in Longport, Staffordshire, from 1834 to 1847. This “Canova” print is very similar to other “Canova” prints produced by Thomas Mayer, who also worked in Longport, Staffordshire but whose business shut down in 1838. There is a secondary maker’s mark, in the shape of a flower or star, on the bottom of the saucer and cups.

Ceramics expert Louise Richardson has discussed Phillips' transfer prints in more depth for the Transferware Collectors Club -- check out her article for more information, including which prints were found at other Portsmouth archaeological sites, including Deer Street and the Warner House!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Pipe Stem Dating at Strawbery Banke

Hello everyone, my name is Cassandra Trevino and I am an archaeology student currently working on my Master's degree in Applied Archaeology. For the past two weeks I have had the pleasure of volunteering at Strawbery Banke Museum. I live in Southern California, so traveling to New Hampshire for this field school has been a wonderful experience. I personally do not have much experience with historical archaeology and lab work, so having this opportunity to work at Strawbery Banke with its rich history was amazing. Most of my experience doing archaeology on the West coast is primarily prehistoric archaeology or pre-contact, so I was extremely excited to get some experience in archaeology at a historic New England seacoast site like Strawbery Banke.
Photo by David J. Murray,
This two week session was strictly lab work during which we were able to assist in washing, sorting and cataloging artifacts from the most recent dig at the Penhallow site within Strawbery Banke. For the second part of the lab session we each picked an artifact class to focus on and research from the Yeaton-Walsh house site. The Yeaton-Walsh site was excavated in 2007 and 2015, and the house is scheduled to be rehabilitated and become an open exhibit at the Strawbery Banke Museum.

I choose to study the clay pipes that were recovered during the excavation. In the collection are fragments of pipe stems and bowls.
Illustration of the parts of a tobacco pipe (Noël Hume 1969:297)
The artifacts were already washed and cataloged, but I went through the collection to create a full list of the clay pipe pieces with the dates of the pipe stems and other dateable features such as maker's marks. In the 2015 excavations, the crew recovered and cataloged 349 pipe fragments. This assemblage included 229 pipe stems and 120 bowl fragments. J.C. Harrington created a dating technique for the recovered pipe stems. Based off of  his calculations the pipe stems holes are measured in 64ths of an inch. Throughout time the pipe stem bore diameters  decrease in size. Using drill bits and a block of wood I could easily measure the pipe stem diameters with the following date ranges:
9/64" - 1590 to 1620
8/64" - 1620 to 1650
7/64" - 1650 to 1680
6/64" - 1680 to 1720
5/64" - 1720 to 1750
4/64" - 1750 to 1800

Bar graph showing distribution of pipe stem bore diameters by count
Pie chart showing distribution of pipe stem bore diameters by percentage
Other scientists including Binford, Heighton and Deagan, and Hanson have created equations with standard deviations to create mean dates for the sites that have recovered pipe stems. The data from the Yeaton-Walsh pipe stem collection indicates that the majority of the pipe stems were discarded during the mid- to late eighteenth century, during which time the property was in use as Marden's Mast Yard.

Another way to date pipes is by looking at the stems and bowls for maker's marks. Pipe makers generally will stamp the pipe with their mark so they can get recognized for their work. They can take the form of initials or their full name. Sometimes, along with the maker's mark with the pipe maker's name, there is a mark that will also give the location of where the pipe was made.

Most of the pipes that have been recovered at the Yeaton-Walsh site were imported from Dutch and Scottish pipe makers. The decoration found on the both the pipe stems and the bowls are also a good indication of the time period and the location for the pipe. For example, most of these pipe stems have decoration that were common among Dutch pipe makers. Some of the pipe stems were also glazed so the porous clay stem would not stick to the person's lips while smoking. Below you can see some examples of pipe stems, decorated bowls, and a mended pipe that is almost complete that were found at the Yeaton-Walsh site. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

2018 Summer Lab School

The 2018 lab school crew! From left to right: Briana, Karla, Elizabeth (museum curator), Alix, Cassie, Alex, and Emma.

Hi! We just finished the second week of the lab methods field school here at Strawbery Banke! This was the first year that we were doing a summer lab methods session, rather than a second field school session. The main goal of the lab session was to introduce students to archaeological lab work and the idea of how archaeologists can go from excavation to interpretation. During the second week, the students chose individual research projects from the artifacts recovered at Yeaton Walsh House in 2015. They researched clay pipes, glass bottles, buttons, and transfer-printed pearlware ceramics. Their research will be incorporated into the future interpretation and exhibition of Yeaton Walsh. A post about each project will be published every week for the next four weeks. Check back next week to read more!

Yeaton Walsh House (c. 1803)

As part of the lab session, we went on field trips to local historic sites and historical societies to show the students different ways of incorporating archaeology and historical research into the interpretation of and visitor experience at these sites. Some of the sites we have visited in the past two weeks include the c. 1664 Jackson House, owned by Historic New England, and Warner House, built in 1718.

Jackson House, built in 1664
The crew outside of Warner House
During the second week we visited the Old Berwick Historical Society in South Berwick, ME, to see their fantastic exhibit "Forgotten Frontier: Untold Stories of the Piscataqua" and learn more about incorporating archaeology into exhibitions. We got to speak with Dr. Tad Baker, a local archaeologist and historian, and Nina Mauer, the curator at the Historical Society, about their work at the Historical Society and beyond!

Dr. Tad Baker speaking to the lab school crew at the Old Berwick Historical Society 
The lab methods session concluded with an outdoor archaeology open house on the last day! The students presented their research to visitors and interested Strawbery Banke staff and ran some kid-friendly activities like measuring pipe stems, sorting ceramic types, and labeling M&Ms. Everyone's projects were successful!
Cassie talking to staff members about her research on clay pipes

Monday, June 25, 2018

2018 Field School Update!

The 2018 field school crew! From left to right: (back row) Alex, Alix, Emma, and Briana; (front row) Emily, Kathryn, and Ella.
Hey! Alex here with an update on the field school and the beginning of the lab school. Three weeks ago the field school started with rain, rain, and more rain. In the first few days the field school students got a crash course in washing artifacts from previous excavations at Penhallow House. Then, the weather cleared, and we could finally start work outside! Luckily for us, it was still school field trip season, so we got to talk to a lot of school kids, mostly elementary and middle school age, and other visitors!

Emma and Emily talk to the public!

In terms of the dig itself, we started with eight units, arranged around the northeast corner of Penhallow House. Generally, we wanted to fill in some gaps in our knowledge about the Penhallow site from the past two years of digging. Penhallow is also slated for rehabilitation in the next few years, so further research on the artifacts recovered during the dig could help us interpret the house accurately in the future. Most of our artifacts, such as broken glass, ceramics, and metal, we found in a so-called brick-y layer, which was almost fifty centimeters (about one and a half feet) deep in some places! At the end of the field school, we had dug almost a meter (three feet) deep and found what may be part of the same cobblestone feature that last year's field school had also uncovered!

The field crew working!

Making maps of the unit walls

Thursday, May 31, 2018

2018 Summer Field School

Hi all! My name is Alex, not to be confused with Alix, who is Strawbery Banke's wonderful archaeologist! I study Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr College, right outside of Philadelphia. I grew up about an hour south of Portsmouth, in Andover, Massachusetts, and I worked at the Robert S. Peabody Institute of Archaeology in Andover. With the Peabody I participated in small-scale digs of the so-called Mansion House, which was a historic house in Andover. I am very interested in making archaeology understandable and interesting to the public and what role archaeology can play in the classroom. This interest was sparked through my work with the Peabody's educator and collections manager and through my internship last summer at Old Sturbridge Village, where I was a costumed interpreter, very similar to the roleplayers at Strawbery Banke. Because the field school site is actually on museum grounds, at Penhallow House, I am really excited to be able to interact with the public on site and hopefully be able to engage visitors in the archaeology as it happens!

As to recent events, on Tuesday, May 29th, Strawbery Banke hosted Jade Luiz, who gave a lecture titled, "A Very Quiet House: The Archaeology of a 19th-Century Boston Brothel." The lecture connected very well with the topic of the Collection Department's newest exhibit, Vice, which is opening on Friday, June 1st. The exhibit explores changing tastes and taboos from the 17th century to the present.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Sorting Piles vs. The Intern

Recently I have been diving into a few different projects here at Strawbery Banke. I took a little break from the glass bottles to allow for more of them soak and dry off. In the meantime, I was able to work with a box full of mostly broken glass and ceramics. This was a very interesting activity for me because I worked with ancient Roman and Greek ceramics and glass in my field school that took place in Macedonia and Bulgaria. Working with ceramics again was a bit of a flash back. I started sorting through the box one bag at a time. I separated the ceramic pieces like I would separate other pieces from excavations. This means separating them into sections of ceramics, glass, metal and interesting/identifiable pieces. The box had already been cleaned at one point so it made the separating process much easier, being that there was no dirt to clean off. As I went along I started to find very different kinds of ceramic types. I found some pieces that had very intricate and delicate designs while others were plain. Along with the designs, I found high quality ceramics such as porcelain, coarse ware ceramics and everything in between. Based on these features I kept finding more and more categories to divide the ceramics in to. I ended up with a large coarse ware pile with no glaze, a coarse ware pile with glaze, a small pile of a broken pipe, a very large pile of plain white fine pottery, a small pile of identifiable objects such as marbles, many piles of different colored glass, separate piles of ceramic pieces based on the color of the design, and a few smaller piles of metal objects.

            It was interesting to find that most of the patterns on the ceramic pieces were of only a select number of colors. This made putting piles together that could possibly be reconstructed in the future if needed much easier. The patterns were also interesting because they reflected the shared trade and events of the era. There were nature scenes, Asian motifs and other battle scenes. From my limited archaeological experience in the area; I wasn’t expecting to see Asian motifs on some of the pieces, so that was an interesting surprise to dig out. After separating all of these piles and finding very unique patterns and pieces, I learned that a lot of the patterns were stamps and only a small amount were hand panted. I was also told that the stamped patterns that had a faded or bleeding look were of poor quality compared to the nicer patterns that had clean and solid lines. This was very fun for me to work with pottery that was mostly high quality porcelain compared to ancient Roman or Greek coarse ware. It was a unique learning experience to see how many different colors and patterns were used on ceramics that were either made or brought to Strawbery Banke. Ceramics have always been one of the most interesting artifacts that I have worked with so far and I hope to be able to work with similar pieces in the future.

Four Roses Whiskey Bottle

         When researching the collection of glass bottles and their uses for the "Vice" exhibit, I came across this interesting large bottle. Upon further research, I found out that this bottle is part of the Four Roses Whiskey brand. The brand was originally based in Louisville, Kentucky and then became a large international brand within European and Asian Markets. It was brought back to the American market around 2002. However, the only photo with information that I could find looked almost exactly like this bottle except for the spaces for labels. I was unable to find any information about a four roses whiskey bottle that has the diamond shape space for a label instead of a square along with the small imprinted label that says, "AGED IN WOOD".  It may be a related to the prohibition era or post prohibition era 'medicinal whiskey pint' that was produced with the diamond label shape because they have the same intricate rose pattern on the bottle body, are the same amber brown color and are the same size of roughly 20cm in height and 9.5 cm in width. If anyone has any further information about this Four Roses Whiskey style of bottle or ideas as to where we can look for more information, we would greatly appreciate the input. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

19th Century Glass Bottles for The "Vice" Exhibit

The next activity that I have been a part of at Strawbery Banke is helping with the organization and cleaning a collection of historic glass bottles. The Collections Department is currently in the process of setting up a brothel room interpretive display in this season’s new exhibit, “Vice.” The glass bottles are from the late 19th century time-period. Brothels historically had beauty products and medicinal products for the girls that worked at them. So, it makes sense that there would be quite a few different products within each  room. I have cataloged bottle types that range from hand lotion to multi-purpose cough medicine. It has been my job to put the information about the bottles we could use in the exhibit into a spreadsheet. The information I’ve recorded includes the bottle text/description, the location of text, color, size, height (cm), width (cm), date, if there is a stopper or label, bottle origin and the bottle’s original purpose. Finding this information has been very helpful in deciding if each bottle should be in the exhibit or not.

              I have really enjoyed doing this because the bottles are all different styles. There have been a few intricate perfume bottles that I have cleaned that will be going in the exhibit. The intricate bottles are my favorite because they are showing the artistic talent that existed with very little advanced technology. My second favorite bottles to work with were the ones that had a brand name or product name in the glass. I was able to search the company or product and find out what the bottle used to contain and what it was used for. I really enjoyed this part of the process because I was able to hold a bottle that used to be a daily product, just as today when ChapStick is a daily product. I am excited to find more interesting bottles through this process and to assist in creating a historically accurate exhibit with objects that could have been used at the time.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

UNH Anthropology Internship Spring 2018

My name is Jaye. I am a senior Anthropology major at the University of New Hampshire. I am the first in a line of hopefully many anthropology majors participating in a formal internship program between Strawbery Banke and the Anthropology Department at UNH. This will mark my first blog post of many more to come throughout the course of the semester. 

I am participating in this internship because I believe in learning from history. The famous phrase that says, “those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it” is an important phrase for all cultures to learn from. When people, as a civilization, do not learn about who they are, how they got here, and what obstacles their predecessors faced, how are they to live properly? I firmly believe that you need to learn from your own past mistakes and the past mistakes of your ancestors and others’ ancestors in order for our civilization to continue. Establishing a survival without hurting themselves, others or the environment. To do this we need to study archaeological sites and other cultures. I was fortunate enough to be able to do this over this past summer through the IFR and the Balkan Heritage Foundation in the form of a field school.

During the field school, I participated in a three-week conservation program of Roman ceramics and glass in Macedonia at the Stobi archaeological site. Directly after that I also completed a two-week conservation program on the conservation of Greek ceramics in Sozopol, Bulgaria. Being able to learn in a hands-on environment in two different countries was the most amazing experience of my life. By analyzing the ceramics, we could tell what kinds of people used these vessels, when they were used and how they were used. We also learned how to tell where the clay was taken from in that area and by doing this we could theorize what was going on in the region at that time.

I am interested in taking everything that I enjoyed doing in my field school and bring it back home. In doing this I would be contributing to the overall understanding of what was going on at Strawbery Banke over time and possibly at other locations within the region. By helping in any way to continue the archaeological process in my home state as well as in other countries I am helping recover past people’s stories that haven’t been told for a few hundred years. This is why I became interested in archaeology in the first place. You are reviving an action that someone did in the past. Such as, making a piece of pottery and reliving the action by rubbing your fingers along the indentations left behind by the potter’s hands. Or walking along an ancient road once used by an entire village. Or standing in a house where a family once lived together. Reviving history keeps people’s personal and cultural significance alive. This is why I love archaeology and this is why I wanted to participate in this internship at Strawbery Banke.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Summer 2017 Wrap-Up

This past week marked the end of my internship at Strawbery Banke as well as the summer excavation at Penhallow House. I've been here for 11 weeks and enjoyed every moment with all the collection resources, educational experiences, field work, and summer opportunities in Portsmouth.
I also stayed at Hough House on the museum grounds, which enabled me to explore the city and neighboring towns like New Castle and Kittery, Maine.
Hough House
I tried to take advantage of my time here to learn about Portsmouth's ever-changing, dynamic history. This included the historic house tours, haunted tours given by New England Curiosities, and various
archaeology lectures in the area. Along with my internship experience, these extra activities provided me with a richer sense of the area we were excavating in.
Waterfront view of the Piscataqua River.
Mary Poppins in Prescott Park.

My dog even got to visit the dig site and Hough House!
The excavation near the Penhallow House yielded some interesting results and speculations by Alix and me. The cobblestone feature that was uncovered last year along Penhallow's northern foundation was found to extend to the east, made up of larger stones closer to the Red Shed. There is also a notable brick feature in the eastern units of our excavation block that we believe to be either a path to a former outbuilding, or perhaps the foundation for said outbuilding. Based on an 1878 Sanborn map and the number of agricultural artifacts found in the northern units, we believe the outbuilding was built as a shed that straddled the property line between Penhallow House and the neighboring house. As for the cobblestones themselves, we theorize that they may still be the fill for when part of Puddle Dock was filled in the late 1700s. After inviting the Portsmouth Public Works Department and consulting with other archaeologists, this assumption is the strongest- especially since the feature continues from the site excavated in 2016. Once further research is done, artifacts are catalogued, and maps are reviewed, a final analysis can be performed. 

Here is a "before and after" view of our site this year. Last week, David Murray of Clear Eye Photo visited with his drone and took overhead shots of the site, which provide a perfect view of the cobblestone and brick feature.
Penhallow House and the Red Shed. (Can you spot Alix, David and me?)
After the field school ended, Alix and I continued to excavate in the northern units and found various bottles, agricultural equipment, buttons, leather, doll fragments, rusted metal, marbles, ceramic and English flint. During my last week we chose to dig under the cobblestones in order to find the sterile layer or marine clay layer that signified the beginning of human activity at Puddle Dock. Although we didn't have enough time to reach a sterile layer, we dug until a grey marine clay layer was uncovered - almost 4 feet under the ground! By the end of the week, we were crouched down in the small hole where it was very difficult to see our heads from the top.

Excavated 1m x 50cm unit; 18th Century layer with English flint. 
This year's dig was a great learning experience for everyone involved, and I was lucky to have such a great city and team along the way.

Highlighted Artifacts:
Over 13 boxes with thousands of artifacts were uncovered from the site, but I chose to highlight these select few because they were uncovered in the past couple of weeks.
Porcelain doll hand from the 19th Century.

Chesebrough c.1887 Vaseline jar: Mouth-blown with a tooled lip. Trademarked in 1878 by New Jersey native Robert Chesebrough. 
Drawer pull from the 19th Century layer. 

Pharmaceutical bottle from the late 1800's. Lettering reads "Bristol Drug Co. Prescription Druggists. XXX and Donahue Apothecary." Only online source noted a Bristol Drug Company in Connecticut closing in 1922. Could be related to the Connecticut-based Bristol-Myers Squibb pharmaceutical company that merged in the 1930's.

Bones found in the 19th Century layer belong to mammals. Top - rib bone. Middle (from left to right)-  Lumbar vertebrae, scapula, thoracic vertebrae, and illium (below). Bottom- cranium fragment, unidentified bone, mandible.

Indian Head penny from 1889. 

Small doll torso found in the 18th Century layer. 

Blade found in 19th Century layer. We believe this is an agricultural blade based on surrounding agricultural artifacts and the lack of a hilt.

Shovel head found in the 19th Century layer.