Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Carriage Shops

First: a reminder to all that the Charles County Archaeological Society will hold its monthly meeting at the Port Tobacco courthouse at 7:30 PM today. Rebecca (Becky) Morehouse, from Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum, will bring some materials from Charles County that are in the state collections at the Museum. Among these are objects reputedly excavated by Gerald Braley in Port Tobacco in the early 1970s.

On the subject of carriage shops, they are complicated affairs. Some manufactured vehicles on a regular basis while others, particularly after the Civil War, focused on repair of mass-produced vehicles and shoeing horses. Carriage making includes not only general carpentry and blacksmithing, but wheelwrighting, upholstering, and fine painting.

Expected artifacts include worn wheel bearings (called thimble skeins or wagon boxes), fragments of iron tires and springs, a variety of hardware including rivets, and small brass manufacturers' plates (similar to the 'FORD' or 'TOYOTA' name plates on automobiles). We expect to see piles of scrap (metal intended for reuse) and metal refuse and slag. Refuse metal frequently exhibits cut marks and voids where the smith punched out discs and other shapes for repairing or making new tools. Worn and broken smithing and carpentry tools are possible, but are likely to be few in number. Most competent smiths reworked broken and worn tools into other objects.


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