Friday, July 24, 2009

Week Two Update (Artifacts!)

Unfortunately the weather, as it does, has refused to cooperate so we were stuck indoors today. In lieu of a dig update, I offer an artifact update showing some of the finds recovered from the feature area of the excavation.

Pictured to the right is an ironstone plate (in two pieces) that came out of the bottom of the three furnace deposits. It's in wonderful condition and features a very legible maker's mark on the back (shown in the inset). The mark identifies the type of ware ("Stone China"), the manufacturer ("Anthony Shaw"), and the location of manufacture ("Burslem"). Stone China is another name for what is commonly called ironstone, a heavy, sturdy white table ware. Anthony Shaw was a potter operating in the 19th century. We know from historical records that Shaw used this particular maker's mark from 1850 to 1882. He later changed the mark to "Anthony Shaw & Sons" to include his sons in the family business. The family operated out of Burslem, a small town that later became part of Stoke-on-Trent in the ceramic-rich county of Staffordshire, England.

The picture on the left shows a late (probably 19th century) pipe bowl that has been burned. The red arrow shows where the stem of the pipe would project off of the bowl; the stem would be pretty long, usually at least 8-12 inches for a bowl of this size. The small projecting nub at the bottom of the bowl is called a "foot" and it allows the pipe to be set down without tipping over. Due to their durability as well as their ubiquity throughout the historical period, pipes are a common discovery on historical sites. As such, they have been studied vigorously and can now be dated to within a number of years based on the size and form of the bowl as well as the width of the pipe's bore.

The picture on the right shows two views of the base and partial side of an American stoneware vessel. Stoneware was produced in America throughout much of the historical period beginning in the 18th century, but the variety pictured here is almost certainly 19th century. It shows signs refined methods and quality craftsmanship.

Finally, the picture above shows a buckle from a set of suspenders. The buckle was produced by the C.A. Edgarton Manufacturing Company (opened in 1882, became known as the President Suspender Company around 1900) in Shirley, Massachusetts (hence the name). This particular model was called the "Shirley-President," the name which can be seen on the front of the buckle (left half of the image). The right side of the side shows the name "Shirley" in script. Advertisements for Shirley suspenders are very popular in today's antique market, especially in the form of 'baseball cards' produced by C.A. Edgarton (seen on the right: top - "President Suspenders, 50 cents"; bottom - "Easy on the shoulders, the back slides").

So once again we're left with our fingers crossed for a sun-enriched week next week. Keep those rain dances coming and we'll keep digging up interesting pieces of Massachusetts' history to share with you!


  1. Travis,
    I want to thank you for posting this exciting blog! My children and I were talking about houses in our home town, Snohomish, Washington, and my daughter asked where and how old is the oldest house in America. I googled that and come up with the Fairbanks house and your exciting finds. I'll be showing them when I get home from work tonight. Thanks for bringing history alive for my kids. We'll be checking back to see what else you uncover this summer. May the sun shine on you!


  2. Thanks, Angela, I'm so glad you and your children are enjoying it! Your comment made my day :)

  3. Mr. Parno,

    Hello, I am an archaeologist in the Southwest and while conducting some cursory internet searches for artifacts recovered from a historic context, I came across your blog. Of particular interest is your “Shirley-President” buckle, which I too have in my assemblage. I am uncertain whether you continue to monitor this blog, but thought that I would attempt to contact you through here and ask if you would be willing to share where you found the information regarding this suspender manufacturer? Thank you for your time and any assistance that you may provide, as well as an outstanding archaeological blog.



  4. I found one of these suspender clasps under my house today along with another old marble.