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

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Archaeological Internship

Hi All!

My name is Amanda Codd and I am a Public History major at Stevenson University. I have just finished an exciting 3 week internship with Jim and his crew. During this time, I learned artifact identification, excavation methods, and artifact recovery.

One of my favorite activities was water screening. I enjoyed it because it was a change of routine from the dry screening method. Also, it was fun to sift through the wet, muddy water looking for artifacts, and then cleaning them right there.

Today was interesting because I learned how to mend artifacts, and why mending is important to the world of archaeology. Mending artifacts relates back to Public History, because by having most or all of an object, it is easier for the general public to visualize how people lived and what they used in their daily lives. A small piece of ceramic can be boring by itself, but when glued together with other similar pieces, that small piece of ceramic becomes a bowl or a china cup that someone used on a day to day basis. To the right is part of a transfer-printed pearlware bowl I mended today (it used to be three pieces!).

I'm happy I had this opportunity to work with Jim and his staff! It was a wonderful learning experience not only for school but also for practical or real life purposes.

Feel free to click on the images for a close-up!

Thanks again!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Whoa Doggy

This little items was quite intriguing when it first came out of the ground. The inscription, 1874 BITCH, cleared things up. It is a dog tag. There may have been a law passed around that year that required dogs to be registered and tagged for taxation purposes Similar tags found by Steve all had the year 1874 and said either DOG or BITCH. More research will give us details.

A quick reminder: We will not be in the field or washing artifacts at Port Tobacco for the remainder of this week. We will post when we plan to be out there again.

Also, GAC sends wishes for a speedy recovery to Jane and her injured knee. Hope you feel better soon and can rejoin us at Burch House.