Dirty Little Secrets

What's New at Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum?

Lake George Plate—Mystery Solved! by Patricia Samford
Earlier this summer, JPPM intern Sharon Osofsky studied artifacts from a mid-19th century privy in Baltimore. One interesting artifact tossed into the privy pit was a white earthenware plate printed with a scene of Lake George, New York (Figure 1). The back of the plate had a mark (Figure 2) that indicated that it had been manufactured by the British pottery firm of William Ridgway and Company.

PlateDepictingLakeGeorge MakersMark-CaldwellLakeGeorge

Manufacturer’s marks on pottery are great tools for the archaeologist – they help us date not only when the piece of pottery was made, but also when the entire group of artifacts with which it was found ended up in the ground. So Sharon used the standard "go-to" source for British pottery marks – Geoffrey Godden’s Encyclopedia of British Pottery and Porcelain Marks (1964), and got a date range of 1830 to 1834 for this particular Ridgway mark. We realized we had a challenge, however, when further investigation revealed that the print from which the lake scene was taken was not published until 1840!

In that year, Nathaniel P. Willis published American Scenery: Or Land, Lake, and River Illustrations of Transatlantic Nature (Willis 1840). One of the illustrations in this book (Figure 3) was British landscape artist William H. Bartlett’s (1809-1854) 1837-1838 drawing of “Caldwell, Lake George” (William H. Bartlett Prints 2010). If William H. Bartlett was the first person to create a drawing of Caldwell, Lake George, then the dates assigned to the William Ridgway mark are incorrect and too early by one or more decades.


Sharon wrote a Curator’s Choice essay (Osofsky 2012- see link in references), ending with the hope that new sources would come to light that would help resolve this mystery. And assistance arrived several months later, from two archaeologists—Thurston and Sara Hahn. The Hahns, who work at Coastal Environments, Inc., in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, are researching antebellum New Orleans ceramics importers. According to their research, one mid-nineteenth century importer was Samuel Elliott Moore, who placed this advertisement in The Daily Picayune on March 13, 1841:

“NEW, SPLENDID AND CHEAP! JUST OPENED, a new and beautiful pattern of DININGWARE, French octagon shapes, American Scenery, among which are the Capitol at Washington, Vale of Wyoming, Views on the Hudson, Lake George, &c. &c., which will be sold at prices which cannot fail to suit. The public are respectfully invited to call at the Great Pitcher, 37 Camp st.”

Moore arrived in New Orleans in circa 1839 and began importing ceramics in late 1840 and his advertisement refers to Ridgway’s American Scenery Series, which included a number of famous American landmarks. It would appear that Godden’s narrow date range of 1830 to 1834 for this Ridgway mark was incorrect, with the mark continuing to be used into the 1840s.

In an email correspondence with MAC Lab staff, Thurston Hahn wrote:

“Regardless, based on the 1841 agreement, marked pieces such as yours, and the March 1841 advertisement touting the “NEW” American Scenery decorations, I think it would be safe to argue that Ridgway used “W.R.” at least through 1841 and that the American Scenery series was likely introduced in late 1840. I use 1840, as that is when Willis published American Scenery: Or Land, Lake, and River Illustrations of Transatlantic Nature, … and Moore’s use of “NEW” in describing the pattern. …it would be hard to imagine that Ridgway didn’t base the series off of Willis’ book.”

This reasoning makes perfect sense to me! Thank you so much to the Hahns for sharing their research. Godden is a great source and will continue to be my first choice when researching pottery marks, but I will be more careful to confirm his dates using multiple sources!


Godden, Geoffrey A.
1964 Encylopaedia of British Pottery and Porcelain Marks. London: Barrie and Jenkins.

Osofsky, Sharon
2012 The Mystery of Lake George. http://www.jefpat.org/CuratorsChoiceArchive/2012CuratorsChoice/Aug2012-TheMysteryOfLakeGeorge.html

"William H. Bartlett Prints 1837-1842.” New York State Library. Last modified April 06, 2010. http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/msscfa/pri5584.htm.

Willis, Nathaniel Parker
1840 American Scenery; Or, Land, Lake, and River Illustrations of Transatlantic Nature. London: George Virtue.

1812 Fair and Reenactment this Saturday. Come Early and Stay for Tavern Night! By Erin Atkinson
JPPM War of 1812

Each September, JPPM holds a War of 1812 Reenactment. This event honors the battle that took place right on St. Leonard Creek in 1814. This year, thanks to a generous grant from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, JPPM is revamping the event that takes place on September 22, 2012 from 10am-5pm. The event has a new name, the 1812 Fair and Reenactment, and a new attitude. Admission is just $3/person or $10/car.

This Saturday, in addition to tactical battle demonstrations, the event will focus on everyday life during the early 1800s. Guests will be able to enjoy period music and dancing throughout the day, learn a bit about the everyday fashion of the time, tour exhibits, watch craft demonstrations, and take part in hands on activities and games.

JPPM WAR OF 1812 DVD#1 20071939

Demonstrators will include a blacksmith, the Calvert Spinners and Weavers, lace makers, embroiderers, an 1800s cook, a woodworker, and more. The JPPM education staff as well as other employees will have hours’ worth of crafts for children to work on, and special guest Simon Spalding will teach guests young and old to dance, play period sports, and sing. The dance group Choregraphie Antique of Goucher College will also offer an interactive dance performance for anyone interested. Food, beer, and wine will be available for purchase all day and those who want to make a night of it are encouraged to stay for Tavern Night from 6 to 10pm. Tavern Night is an annual fundraiser put on by the Friends of JPPM to raise money for educational programs at the park. The cost of admission is just $10/person or $8/Friends members or those in period attire. Live music, trivia, games and dancing will make this a truly unique pub experience.

Tavern Nighta

Over and Under: A New Exhibit at JPPM - by Sara Rivers Cofield
Whole exhibit

There’s a new exhibit at the Visitor’s Center that will run through October 17. The temporary exhibit titled “Over and Under: Accessories and Undergarments of the Early 1800s” features original pieces that went under or over a person’s outfit to create the romantic look that people associate with the early 19th century. Accessories include a dignified top hat, a man’s tobacco pouch, and showy beaded purses, while rare undergarments will educate viewers about clothes not often seen in period art. Highlights include knit socks with the date “1819” on them, a corset and shift marked with the name of their owners, a “figure enhancer” used to strategically stuff a corset, and a pair of silk garters embroidered with the flirty French warning, “Halte la, on ne passe pas” which means “Stop here, go no further.”

Bust Enhancer

The exhibit is designed to coincide with the JPPM 1812 Fair and Reenactment September 22, but the items exhibited show trends in fashion throughout the first half of the 19th century. The objects are not part of JPPM’s permanent collections, but instead came together based on loans offered by JPPM staff. Sara Rivers Cofield, Federal Curator at the MAC Lab, has been collecting clothing and purses since her grandmother, Charlotte Rivers, helped her buy her first antique purse over 20 years ago. Now family heirlooms from Charlotte Rivers, who died last October at the age of 99, are included in the exhibit. Betty Seifert, JPPM Curator, contributed her great grandmother’s knitting needles to the exhibit, and Michele Parlett, Public Services Coordinator, loaned the top hat and its carrying case from her family’s antique shop, Keeper’s Antiques, in Charlotte Hall, Maryland.

Shirt & Hat

In order to flesh out the themes that the staff collections could illustrate, we turned to independent scholar and collector Mary Doering for some additional pieces. Mary, who teaches courses on costume history for the Smithsonian-George Mason University Masters Program on the History of Decorative Arts, often loans her collections to museums and historic sites, including current exhibits on the War of 1812 and the Civil War at the Maryland Historical Society. By combining the high-quality pieces in Mary’s collections with the personal heirlooms and collections of staff, the exhibit offers rare garments and accessories, eye candy, and personal stories. A little something for everyone!

Why Are Annette and Alex Cleaning Fish?
alex and annette cleaning fish

Okay, I admit to being a little weird, perhaps, to get excited when a volunteer comes to the lab bearing a five gallon bucket full of frozen dead fish! The rockfish and perch that volunteer Christa Conant brought from the Calvert Marine Museum late last week are not headed for my table, or anyone else’s for that matter. They are destined to become part of the paleofaunal comparative collection at the MAC Lab.

So, why do these fish make me happy? Archaeologists find large numbers of animal bone—sometimes many thousands of fragmented bones—when they dig on residential sites. Correct identification of the bone (both what species and which skeletal elements are represented) are crucial for drawing conclusions about what people in the past ate, how they obtained their food, how it was prepared, and other questions related to diet. The Lab has a nifish detailce collection of mammals, birds and reptiles in its comparative collection, but does not have a lot of fish. Fish and other marine life have been important in the diet of Marylanders for thousands of years, so having a good fish bone collection is essential.

I might not have been so excited about the fish if I had been the one cleaning them, though. That task fell to Annette, Alex, Christa, and Ed. After removing most of the flesh from the fish, they wrapped the carcasses in cheesecloth and placed them in a wire cage. The cage was positioned in a not-too-close-by place in the woods for nature to have her hand in further cleaning the bones. After three or four months, we will be able to retrieve the cheesecloth wrapped parcels—discovering an intact skeleton which can be cleaned up a little bit more, labeled and made a part of the comparative collection.

I will look forward to more deliveries from Christa, but I’m not so sure about Ed, Alex and Annette!                     

                                                                                  Aren't you glad there is no smell-a-vision with this blog?

The wrapped carcasses in their cage in the woods.

Welcome Aryel!
We have a new face starting at the lab this week—St. Mary’s College of Maryland student Aryel Rigano will be analyzing animal bone from the Smith St. Leonard site for her senior research project. Hailing from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Aryel is a senior Anthropology major at the college. Aryel spent last semester abroad in Athens, Greece, where she studied archaeology and had an internship at the American School of Classical Studies. Her intern project there involved studying human remains.

Aryel uses the faunal type collection at the MAC Lab to help with identifying animal bones from the site.

Aryel will be analyzing mammal and bird bones from the Smith St. Leonard Plantation, an 18th-century site here on the park grounds. The bone are from a cellar, measuring 4’x 5’x4’ deep approximately, which was located immediately in front of the kitchen fireplace. Stratigraphic evidence suggests the cellar was filled rather quickly. Agateware utensil handles, which were introduced in the late 1740s, provide an estimated date for the filling of the cellar. In 1748, John Smith inherited the family plantation, and it appears he filled the cellar sometime before his death in 1754, when the site was abandoned.

Kitchen waste was abundant in the cellar, with large quantities of oyster shell, charcoal, and bone recovered. Preliminary sorting of the bone shows that a large variety of domesticated livestock and wild game species are present. Fish remains are particularly abundant, and range from small net-caught individuals to very large drumfish, and include a striped burrfish, a puffer-type species. Other artifacts found in the cellar include copper, pewter, and iron dining utensils; a bone or ivory folding fan; buttons, cufflinks, buckles, and beads; several hoes; iron fireplace hardware such as tongs; and various keys, locks, and hinges.

Field director Ed Chaney prepares a profile map of the cellar.

Aryel admits that she has always been interested in bones and in particular what modifications or alterations to the physical structure of the bone can reveal about disease, injuries, or even how a piece of meat was prepared. We are pleased that she has decided to pursue her research interests with one of our archaeological collections and look forward to working with her over the next nine months as she prepares for graduation.

Bottles and Plates and a Cat – Oh My!
For five weeks in the early spring of 1980, Mid-Atlantic Archaeological Research, Inc. of Delaware conducted emergency archaeological excavations in downtown Baltimore at the site of the Federal Reserve Bank (18BC27). This section of the city was settled in the late 18th century and served as a residential neighborhood into the 20th century. The excavations revealed a number of late 18th- and early 19th-century privies and wells that were recorded and excavated during the short field session, which was made difficult by cold, wet weather and large construction equipment working at close quarters with the archaeologists.
Archaeologists working under less-than-ideal conditions at 18BC27.

Figure 1.  Archaeologists working under less-than-ideal field conditions at the Federal Reserve Site.

For a number of reasons, artifact analysis and report preparation did not occur at the time of the excavation. The collections are curated at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab and recently an effort has begun to catalog and write up some of the archaeological features uncovered during the excavation.

Recent analysis of a rectangular brick lined privy pit has turned up a typical array of early 19th century artifacts—most of a black glazed red earthenware chamberpot (perhaps for use on those cold or rainy nights when going outside to the privy seemed too much), a grey salt glazed stoneware storage crock, several nice Chinese porcelain plates, some wheel engraved wine glasses, wine bottles, window glass and a nice assortment of seeds (the residents at this house seemed to favor cherries, peaches, grapes and pumpkins!).

But one group of artifacts was a bit unsettling – at least for a cat owner like me. Bones representing the complete skeleton of a grown cat were found along with all the other household debris in the privy. What was going on here? A little delving into archaeological journals reveals that this discovery was far from unusual. It turns out that cat remains are a fairly common occurrence in 19th-century urban privies like this one. Urban residents were left with few options for disposing of dead animals and often laws prohibited them from leaving them on the street or throwing them in nearby bodies of water. Throwing a deceased cat (whether a pet or a feral nuisance) into a privy was a handy way to take care of this problem. One has to remember as well that the current perception of cats as beloved pets has not always held true. Over the course of just the last three hundred or so years, cats have been viewed variously as disease vectors, as harbingers of bad luck and as manifestations of witches. Thus, what seems to readers today an ignominious ending in an urban privy would not have been considered such in the 19th century!

Figure 2. Formerly feral felines who did not end up in a privy!Kittens

JPPM is Pleased to Announce the Gloria S. King Research Fellowship in Archaeology
The Maryland Archaeological Conservation (MAC) Laboratory at Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum is pleased to announce the Gloria S. King Research Fellowship in Archaeology. The MAC Lab is currently home to 8 million artifacts representing over 12,000 years of human occupation in Maryland. All of these collections are available for research, education, and exhibit purposes to students, scholars, museum curators, and educators. The Gloria S. King Research Fellowship was established to provide funding for individuals to do research using archaeological collections curated at the MAC Lab

Students, academics, or professionals are eligible to apply for the fellowship (employees of the Maryland Historical Trust and St. Mary’s College of Maryland are not eligible). Any subject in Maryland archaeology will be considered as eligible, but the researcher must use collections at the MAC Lab and be in residence full time in the lab. The researcher must provide a presentation of research to museum staff members at the end of the fellowship.

Application process: A 1000 word proposal (no more than 4 typed pages, double-spaced) outlining the problem and the collections in the MAC Lab to be used, plus a CV plus a letter of recommendation.

Stipend: Stipend to be $500 a week, with a minimum two week stay and maximum 5 week stay. Stipend to be paid upon completion of fellowship for stay of two weeks; a fellowship of greater length will be paid in two installments: 50% at the midway point of the fellowship and 50% upon completion of fellowship. On-site housing may be available for fellows, dependent on scheduling of fellowship.

Gloria Shafer was born on January 6, 1931 in Baltimore, Maryland. She spent summers as a child on her family's farm near Chestertown, Maryland and attended Washington College. In 1955, she and her husband, George M. King, started a small excavating construction business in Anne Arundel County. She had a lifelong interest in Maryland history and archaeology and contributed funds and services to individuals and organizations supporting this interest. Mrs. King died on May 31, 2004 and this fellowship in her memory recognizes her many contributions to the preservation of the past.

Applications must be received at the address below by January 15th, 2013. Projects awarded a fellowship can begin as early as March 15th.

Please direct any questions to Patricia Samford at psamford@mdp.state.md.us and send application materials to:

Patricia Samford, Director
Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory
Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum
10515 Mackall Road
St. Leonard, Maryland 20685

Meet JPPM's Summer Intern!
In late June, Sharon Osofsky began a six week internship at the park as a component of the SRI Foundation–University of Maryland at College Park Summer Institute in Cultural Resource Management. In this program, students are provided real-world work experience at institutions involved in cultural resource management; as a museum that accepts collections amassed by CRM projects, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum was a good fit with the internship program.

Sharon is a rising senior at the University of Arizona, triple majoring in history, library science and anthropology. She will work primarily in the MAC Lab during her stay, but will also have a range of experiences throughout the museum with education programs, curation at the Patterson House, and an ongoing oral history project.

“Working at JefPat gives me the opportunity to understand how museums work and allows me to get one step closer to working in museums”, said Sharon, who is in the third week of her internship.

Children’s Day on the Farm June 3rd!
Soon, it’ll be the 1st Sunday in June – and you know what that means! It’s time to celebrate Maryland’s rural heritage at JPPM’s Children’s Day on the Farm. Amuse yourself with fun hands-on activities, demonstrations, live animals, music, yummy food, and hay rides! Children’s Day has become a Southern Maryland tradition - a wholesome and enjoyable event for the whole family!

Pet your favorite farm animal

See what's happening in the Indian Village

CTY Returns to JPPM
Second through fourth grade students from the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth returned to JPPM this year and we were happy to treat them to all that the Park has to offer. They learned native skills at our Indian Village, experienced archaeology at the Smith’s St. Leonard site, and experimented with artifact treatment techniques in the MAC Lab. Checking out a room with 8 million artifacts just added to the fun. The staff enjoyed working hands-on with these bright kids and hope they all had a great time discovering JPPM!

Learning about electrolytic reduction with conservators

Look at this way cool projectile point!


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