ARTIFACT OF THE WEEK ARCHIVES:
Nickel Alloy Ring (c. 1920s-1930s)
This silver-plated nickel alloy ring set with blue and clear glass (SB18.266) was recovered by archaeologists during the 1990s excavations at the Shapiro House, directed by Martha Pinello. Archaeologists don't often recover jewelry during excavations, because people tended not to throw away jewelry along with their kitchen refuse and broken ceramics. However, when personal adornment artifacts are found, they may suggest personal information about individuals who lived at Puddle Dock. More than utilitarian objects, rings might symbolize emotional connections, and may provide information about status or gender affiliation. This ring was most recently on display at the museum during the 2012 exhibit, THREAD: Stories of Fashion at Strawbery Banke. For more information on personal adornment artifacts, check out Carolyn White's 2005 book, American Artifacts of Personal Adornment 1680-1820: A Guide to Identification and Interpretation.
"A Present for John" child’s mug (c. 1800)
This artifact (DS.2 A333) was recovered and reconstructed by archaeologists during the 1980s excavations at the Hart-Shortridge House site on Deer Street. The earliest features at this site date to the occupancy of John Hart, a rope maker who bought the lot in 1760 and built the house. After his death in 1790, the house was left to his housekeeper, Sarah Tripe, who later divided the estate among her niece, Lois Shortridge, and her niece’s children, Sarah Ann Adams and John Hart Shortridge. This little creamware cup, which measures just fewer than 2 inches high and reads “A Present For John,” may have belonged to John Hart Shortridge. This transfer printed cup has traces of a pink lustre rim and was manufactured in Staffordshire, England around 1800. Personalized children’s mugs like this one were often presented as christening cups in the early 19th century.
North Devon sgraffito milk pan (c. 17th century)
This dish (DS.5 A0996) was recovered and reconstructed by archaeologists during the 1986 excavations at the Deer Street Tavern site, directed by Aileen Agnew. This earthenware dish has a white slip and an amber lead glaze, and measures 12 inches across. This type of ceramic is known as North Devon sgraffito, and was produced in North Devon, England, in the 17th century. North Devon sgraffito has also been recovered during excavations at Jamestown, VA and Plymouth, MA. This dish is inscribed with a bird, a motif which some archaeologists think was derived from medieval illustrations. Sgraffito production seems to have slowed after 1700, perhaps as consumers began to prefer more refined blue & white wares. However, a fragment of another North Devon dish recovered from the Deer Street site was inscribed with the year 1719, indicating that production and trade of North Devon wares did continue between England and Portsmouth into the 18th century.
Westerwald Tankard (c. 1730s)
This Westerwald Tankard (A0514) was recovered and reconstructed by archaeologists during the 1986 excavations at the Deer Street Tavern site, directed by Aileen Agnew. Westerwald stoneware is from Germany and was produced from the late 16th century through today. This is a grey stoneware vessel with blue cobalt decoration, including incised bands, hearts, and a floral design. Westerwald jugs and mugs are often found by archaeologists on early colonial sites, as vessels were produced especially for export to England and the colonies in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Royal initials, like "GR" for King George, were often featured, but this heart and floral motif is also common. This tankard was previously displayed in a 1997-1998 Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden exhibit, in the Dunaway Store, and at RiverWoods at Exeter during the summer of 2000.
Pearlware with Chalis Satoon #1 design (c. 1795-1808)
Two different items are featured in the photo to the left, one from the Collections Department (2013.19), and reconstructed pieces from 2-3 small plates recovered from the 2008-2011 Chase House (SB26) archaeological excavations, directed by Sheila Charles. All these pearlware ceramics share the same transfer print design: Chalis Satoon #1. This design was based on Thomas Daniell’s “Oriental Scenery,” from c. 1795-1808. The design, printed on Straffordshire pearlwear between 1810 and 1830, features an elephant with a driver and keeper, wearing a canopy with 2 riders. In the background is a 40-pillar pavilion on the wall of the Allahabad fort, overlooking River Jumna in northern India. The scene is surrounded by an uncommon lily pad leaf border. The multiple sherds recovered from the archaeological excavations indicate that the Chase family likely had a set of dishes in this pattern. The complete plate was gifted to the Strawbery Banke Collections Department by research consultant Louise Richardson, who also provided information on the pattern.
Painted earthenware bowl, recovered in Portsmouth (c. 1760-70)
This tin-enameled earthenware bowl, a ceramic type also referred to as delftware, (DS.1 A075) was recovered and reconstructed by archaeologists during the 1980s excavations at the Hart-Shortridge House site on Deer Street. It was likely simply called painted earthenware at the time of its manufacture in Liverpool, England, in around 1760-1770. This particular bowl was decorated with two popular 18th century themes. Inside, it reads “Success to Trade,” a common sentiment in a shipping center like Portsmouth. The outside is painted with a Chinoiserie design, a popular English decorative choice since the 17th century. This bowl made the rounds to museums around New England in the 1980s during the “Unearthing New England’s Past” exhibit and was photographed in the accompanying exhibit booklet. The "success to trade" painted earthenware bowl is currently displayed in the Port of Portsmouth: War, Trade, & Travel exhibit in the Montrone Family Gallery in Thales Yeaton House.
Tamarind jar (c. 1780 -1840):
This artifact (SB1.0426) was recovered and reconstructed by museum archaeologists during the 1970s excavation at the Marshall Pottery site, directed by Dr. Steven Pendery. The Marshall Pottery site at Puddle Dock was occupied in the 18th century by the potter Samuel Marshall, his family, and three enslaved Africans: Mercer, Bess, and Adam. This tamarind jar, a 15-inch tall earthenware vessel dates to the mid-18th century. Its design indicates that it was used for storing and shipping tamarind, a fruit native to tropical Africa that was also, historically, cultivated in the West Indies. The presence of the jar at the Marshall Pottery site suggests trade between Portsmouth and the West Indies. Similar tamarind jars were recovered during archaeological excavations led by Dr. James Deetz in 1976 at the Parting Ways site, a free black community in Plymouth, MA. These jars have been interpreted by historical archaeologists as examples of how enslaved Africans and early African Americans maintained cultural connections to Africa. View the tamarind jar currently on display in the Horticulture Learning Center in Cotton Tenant House (North).
Lamson Pottery “mistake"
This artifact (A3278) is from the Lamson Pottery Site in Exeter, NH. This was recovered during the early 1990s excavations directed by Mary Dupré, a former Strawbery Banke archaeologist. The Lamson Pottery operated under different names from the late 18th century through the beginning of the 20th century, providing settlers with utilitarian redware vessels. Excavations at pottery production sites always reveal interesting artifacts: kiln furniture, experiments by the potters, and potters’ mistakes. This artifact is actually six separate vessels that were overfired and fused together during firing. Not so useful for the Lamson Pottery’s customers, but an interesting glimpse into redware manufacture.