Friday, July 2, 2010

Lead Seal with Merchant's Mark

At the Burch House we found a lead cloth seal with an interesting merchant’s mark.

Lead seals were widely used in Europe during the 13th through 19th centuries. In the 1400’s cloth manufacturers in England were required to identify their cloth with a lead seal containing their maker’s mark. Lead cloth seals were also used to indicate payment of taxes or that the cloth had passed quality control.

The cloth seal has two discs with a connecting strip. The seal was crimped onto the finished cloth.

The marks on lead seals could indicate the person responsible for quality control, or the packer, or the dyer. The style of some of the marks were that referred to as a “merchant's mark”. Merchant’s marks were built around an upright stem. There could be a cross or streamers or a “four” at the top. Often at the bottom there was an inverted V or a V over an inverted V or a W or the initial of the person’s given name. Sometimes two initials or the initial of the surname was included across the middle of the upright stem. As late as 1794 the United East India Company was using metal seals with this style of merchant mark.

The lead cloth seal at the Burch House has a merchant's mark on the side where the rivet has been crimped, and the other disc is blank. The merchant's mark has a “four” at the top. Below this is an anchor where the anchor incorporates the upright stem. Instead of a person’s initials, there appear to be the initials of a business. The merchant indicated on this seal could be D&K or O&K. Marks were not registered, and I have not been able to find out more about it.

I learned a lot about lead seals from Lead Cloth Seals and Related Items in the British Museum by Geoff Egan. And my interest in merchant marks was piqued by English Merchants’ Marks by F.A. Girling. There’s a lot more to merchant's marks than I indicated above.


Lab day scheduled for tomorrow in front of the courthouse, 9 AM until 2 or 3 PM. JGG

Thursday, July 1, 2010

An Office of One

Oh the joys and sorrows of working in the office by oneself. If you have not heard, which I doubt you have, yours truly here went and busted up his ankle by stepping into a hidden hole in the ground yesterday while walking out of a project site to eat lunch. Apparently if you step in a hole, your foot goes one way while the rest of your body goes another! Huh?! Who knew?!

So while the rest of the crew is out working in the field on this glorious day of wonderful weather, I am in the office doing paperwork. No fieldwork for me for a couple days.

We have shown you guys some of the really cool artifacts we have been uncovering around Burch House hopefully with more to come. The crew has been busy with the usual tasks of washing, cataloging, mending and drawing artifacts. The B.C. Milburn crock is almost back together...just need to draw a profile of it before we can put it back together completely. Once that is done we'll post a picture for all to see.

Anne has been working hard on keeping all our profiles up to date and in order. The stratigraphy is coming along nicely and as we excavate other units it has become second nature to visualize what it will look like as we dig deeper. And it has been very consistent in all the units so far...that is until last Tuesday!

While excavating a unit close to the chimney Anne and I came upon a very light sandy soil with VERY heavy gravel in it. It only went through the NE corner of the unit (closest to the chimney) and is not very wide but is deep. At first we thought it was construction fill from when the addition was put on. After excavating the feature we thought it might be part of a drainage system of sorts. Too soon to tell and it may have to wait for another time to know more.

We will be out in Port Tobacco tomorrow working again at the Burch House. I'll be the one limping around so come on out and play!

- Peter

Monday, June 28, 2010

Connecticut Copper Cent, Part II

Hi folks!

I know we previously posted a blog about Connecticut Copper Cents, but this time we found one that is complete! The coin is well worn, but the letters on the observe are visible "AUCTORI CONNECTICUT" around an almost completely rubbed away statesman. On the reverse of the coin is Brittania as the personifcation of American Liberty with only part of the words "INDI ET LIB" visible around the edge. The coin dates to some time between the end of the revolutionary war and the signing of the US Constitution in 1790, and from what I can read this coin may date to 1787, but the date is too worn to be sure.

Unfortunately this coin is also too well worn to determine exactly which one of the 350 possible designs it is! Most of these differences involved changes to the obverse side of the coin, with some of the stranger looking portraits earning nicknames like "Hercules Head" and "Laughing Head." Not only did the shape of the statesman's head change, but on some coins it faces to the right, while on this one it faces to the left. Take a look here to see some of the varieties in more detail, such as one of the 1787 versions shown below (thanks to the website for the information and images!) .

I say we get back out in the field and find one of these coins with a legible date! We plan to be down in Port Tobacco tomorrow-I hope to see you there!