FROM THE COLLECTIONS ARCHIVES
- Nightingale ship’s model
This week in the Collections Department, DavidMurray, ClearEyePhoto.com is photographing objects from the maritime collection for the upcoming exhibition, "Port of Portsmouth: War, Trade, & Travel." Here, he's photographing a model of the clipper ship, "Nightingale" installed in the exhibition opening July 1.
- Sheraton Butler's Sideboard
Thanks to the generosity of Elisabeth Sturges, Strawbery Banke Museum has acquired a c. 1800-1810 Sheraton Inlaid Mahogany Sideboard once in the possession of The Stearns Family of Durham, New Hampshire. The rectangular top with ringed ovolo corners above a conforming case with a bank of three central drawers, the uppermost with hinged front opening to a baize writing surface and fitted...
- Washington Medal
In the 18th and 19th centuries, George Washington’s Birthday, February 22nd, was a national holiday second only to the Fourth of July, celebrated with balls and banquets. In the new nation, the day united the country to celebrate the symbols he represented: independence and liberty. In May of 1808, in the Portsmouth Oracle, George Washington was described as, “the great, enlightened, & elevated mind of the ILLUSTRIOUS FATHER of this country”
- 18th century foot warmer
Here’s an example of how early New Englanders kept warm during cold winter nights. Similar to space heaters today, foot warmers were used by early Americans to keep warm. This week’s Artifact of the Week is a foot warmer (#2002.62) from the Strawbery Banke Museum Collection. A foot warmer is a box made of wood, tin, brass or a combination of these materials with a tray inside for hot coals, stones, or later, heated concrete blocks. Holes were punched into the sides of the wood or tin, typically in decorative patterns, to help ventilation. In the 1972, this foot warmer was featured in a Portsmouth Herald article titled “Footwarmers Took Chill Off Church”. The author, Harry Baker, commented, “Designs punched into the metal differ widely, but the extent of these incisions was rather precisely regulated lest paucity of air quell the fire, or excess cause it to burn too briskly. A heart and circle motif decorates this example, perhaps signifying that it was a gift from some swain to his lady. He may have concluded that the route to warming her heart began with the feet!”
Even after improvements in heating occurred, foot warmers continued to be used in sleighs and carriages and later in early automobiles. This late eighteenth century example descended through a family on Middle Street in Portsmouth before being gifted to the museum.