Friday, June 25, 2010

You Butter Believe It

The Burch House excavations are keeping us plenty busy in the lab these days. Good thing too, it's way too hot to be working outside!

Along with washing and cataloging artifacts we are also doing some mending and drawings of several of our larger more intact pieces. Today though I'm going to share with you one that IS intact.

A butter knife! Yay!

Well, it is a little exciting because not only is it intact but it has a maker's mark on it that can be identified.

This knife was made by the 1847 Rogers Brothers Company. No, 1847 is not the date of manufacture as is widely believed. It is the date that the Rogers Brothers believed they perfected the process of "electroplating" The technique of electroplating a thin coat of silver over a base metal became feasible in the 1840s. The base metal selected for flat tableware was usually nickel silver, a misnomer which actually contained no silver but was an alloy of nickel, zinc and copper. The Rogers Brothers - Asa, Simeon, and William - had established a shop in Hartford, Connecticut in the 1840s. The brothers were known for the high quality of their wares and when they had perfected the electroplating process in 1847 they marked their product with their name.

The butter knife shown above is the "Crown" pattern made in 1885. Below is a better image of what the pattern looks like. More and more of what we have been finding is helping us date the upper deposits to the time of Washington Burch.

Stay tuned next week when we might have a whole table setting to display!!

- Peter

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