Monday, October 25, 2010

Thank You Volunteers!

Yesterday was a very successful day at Port Tobacco. We had a great turn out of both regular volunteers (Carol, Elsie, Calvin, Steve, Scott, Laurie, Phil, Jane, and Rich) and a dozen G.W. University students. We reopened Unit 88 and excavated 16 strata! We ended up with 2 full buckets of artifact bags. Several strata needed multiple bags to hold everything. Hopefully we can schedule an artifact washing day to process it all.

Among the artifacts were straight pins, a mule shoe, a door knob, half of a Spanish reale, half a willow ware bowl, and an initialed pipe bowl.

Stay tuned for more details on future blogs.

We will be back at Port Tobacco tomorrow to finish Unit 96 and continue Unit 88.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Just a spoonful of sugar

This amber bottle was most likely a medicinal bottle used by druggists and merchants. It held large amounts of medicine to be dispensed for customers.

It is .97 ft high and .42 ft in diameter at the base. The bottle was made in a post-bottom mold, as evidenced by the side seams, and the tooled rim is flanged.

The bottle could date anywhere from 1885 to 1900s, but small dots on the bottle, air vents from the molding process, suggest it is the later portion of the date range.

Note: We will be digging at Port Tobacco on Sunday with the George Washington University Archaeology Club from 9-3. Anyone is welcome to join.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

G&Ts for one & all

This elegantly shaped bottle is a gin bottle, shaped to be packed into a case. The rim is an applied oil finish, which dates from the 1830's to the 1920's, however the pointed corners of the base are pre-1870s. This bottle may have also held other liquors or wine.

We will be at Port Tobacco tomorrow, so come on down.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Poetical Potters

Unit 96, between the road and the Burch House, has lots of gravel in it. But it also had a piece of whiteware with a transfer print maker's mark. The ceramic was manufactured by the Homer Laughlin China Company.

Homer and Shakespeare Laughlin, two brothers from East Liverpool, Ohio, formed a partnership in 1871 to sell pottery made in the factories located in their hometown. The Laughlin Brothers built a plant on the banks of the Ohio River in 1873. By 1877, Shakespeare, the younger brother, was ready to move on to pursue other interests. The business was continued as an individual enterprise as the Homer Laughlin China Works. The business prospered through the 1880’s and became one of the better known manufacturers of ceramic dinnerware and toilet ware in the United States. They also specialize in Fiestaware. The company website has this great film of their production process from the 1930's.

The piece we have shows only a small bit of the manufacturing serial number which records the date and place of manufacture. The "N" means it was made in Newell, West Virginia. The "3" is all that is left of the date, but we know that the West Virgina plant wasn't built until 1906. Since the sherd came from Stratum 1, this date fits in just fine.

NOTE: We will be in Port Tobacco on Thursday the 21st. See you there!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sorting Sands of the Centuries

For me the month of October has been all about the Burch House. I spoke about our excavations there on Saturday at the ASM Board Meeting. In two weeks, I'll talk about the sedimentation processes at Port Tobacco, at the CNEHA Conference, focusing on soil samples taken from around the Burch House. We took column samples from 3 different units (see photo). Each stratum samples was split in half and one half analyzed, the other held for future processing. We developed the analysis procedure by trial and error and came up with a method to seperate different components in the soils:

First the sample is weighed. Then it is water screened using graduated geological screens with mesh sizes of .187 inches, .0937 inches, and .0469 inches. This removes and sorts gravel and tiny rocks from the sand and silt. The remainder is then water screened through a yogurt strainer, which is similar to cheese cloth. This catches coarse and medium sand grains. The water from the screen is collected during the process with very fine sand, silt, and clay particles in it. This is then poured through paper towels. The sand and silt remain in the paper towel; only the smallest particles escape.

In the end each stratum is divided into 5 fractions. Each fraction of the sample is weighed to determine the percentage of the entire sample it comprises. The data gathered from this method of soil characterization, when coupled with what is known about erosion processes, can tell us about the source of the sediments that were washed in and the velocity of the water that brought it.

Hopefully we will also be able to date major sedimentation events and see if they match up with archival information about catastrophic weather and the like.

We can also place the component percentages of the soils next to our own descriptions of the the soil as we excavated it, to see how they differ.

So for the rest of the month and a good part of what remains of the years, I'm going to be up to my elbows in Port Tobacco soil, literally.


NOTE: We will not be in the field tomorrow due to high chances of rain. We will go out some time later in the week. Stay tuned for updates!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Pete!

Today is GAC's prodigal son's mumblemumbleth birthday! We hope he takes a few minutes from his worthy pursuit of knowledge to enjoy it.

NOTE: We will be at Port Tobacco tomorrow to finish up Unit 96.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hello again!
Keeping with our theme of the Lawrence Collection, this brown stoneware bottle is the next bottle to be displayed here on the blog!

The bottle's dimensions are as follows: height is approx. 1', base is 3.33", inner mouth is .75", and finish (including the neck) is 1.05". The bottle's base has a straight plain twisted wire cut, sort of like the "gray and blue" stoneware jug in the Oct.4th post, but without the curved markings.

This bottle was fun to research as it was stamped with a maker's mark including the name and the location of where the bottle was manufactured (see left). Around the outer ring of the circular stamp is written "Taunus Brunnen-By Appointment", the inner area of the circle consists of a crest with feathers that are within a crown (the Prince of Wales' crest). Different crests were used by different manufacturers; I was unable to find why this one uses the Prince of Wales' crest.
Stamped beneath the circular stamp is written "J. Friedrich, Grosskarben, B/ Frankfurt A/ M" (Frankfurt am Main). During later research on the web, I found that "Gross-Karben" is a region outside of Frankfurt and near a mountain range called "Taunus"; which is known for its mineral springs. When I translated "Brunnen" into Google translate, it came up with "Fountain".

Further research concluded that the tall, slim, cylindrical shape of this bottle was used to transport mineral water and/or gin. In the case of this particular bottle, it would most likely be used for mineral water, considering the region it was manufactured in. These bottles appear to be popular for exporting from the mid-1800s to early 20th century, which is what I dated this bottle to.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Honey...I've got a headache!

Hello everybody!
Continuing with the theme of the Lawrence Collection bottles...came across this medicinal druggist bottle. The color of the bottle is aqua, and the dimensions are as follows: 9.36" tall, finish height is .80", inner mouth is .53", base is 2.47" x 1.28". Embossed on one side of the bottle is "Boykin Carmer & Co. Wholesale Druggist Baltimore".

Ignoring the fact that the bottle is embossed with a company name and location, I did basic bottle analysis. The bottle was mouth-blown into a mold (post-1865). It has a tooled "oil" finish (1830s -1920s). As most druggist bottles were, it is cup-bottom molded (1870s - early 20th century). The mold had no air vents, as I was unable to decipher any marking in the shoulders, body, base or seams (from/prior to 1885 - 1890). Using these characteristics I deduced that the bottle was dated between 1870s - 1890, due to the cup-bottom mold and the lack of air venting.

However, the embossing on the front of the bottle could lead to a more accurate date. I was unable to find a whole lot about Boykin Carmer & Co.; so, if any of you are interested in this, feel free to research more!


Monday, October 4, 2010

One Man Jug Band

This is an American gray stoneware jug. There are no makers marks, but possible date range can be determined from certain features. The overall shape is ovoid to tall ovoid, which is German in origin. The strap handle is pulled-on, meaning the clay was attached at the neck and then pulled into shape and attached to the body. The base of the jug shows how the clay was removed from the wheel with a wire (see left). The glaze is a standard salt-glaze with cobalt painted decoration, but there is no slip or glaze on the interior, which puts the date between the late 1700's to 1860. The lip is a simple rolled rim which is pre-1850. The tooled neck is longer than standard, with incising that mimics a reeded neck. Longer necks date to the 17th and 18th century. So the neck style paired with the lack of interior glaze most likely dates the jug to the late 1700s.

We will be at Port Tobacco on Thursday this week, not Tuesday.