Coarse Earthenwares. I have recovered from the Duck Creek mudflats numerous fragments of coarse earthenwares or ceramics. These jugs, jars, crocks, bottles, and bowls are made of coarse or fine clays, and they reflect several technologies used in the making of ceramics. The main earthenwares are redware, yellowware, and saltglazed stoneware pottery. Redware is defined as European or early American pottery generally of the utilitarian type made from clay containing iron mineral compounds which are fired to a reddish hue in the kiln (McConnell, 1988.) Redware pieces include milk cooling basins and bowls and milk jars which are glazed on the inside and unglazed on the outside. The milkcontaining vessel first is soaked in water, then dried inside and filled with fresh milk. The unglazed outer surface of the vessel loses its water to the air, thereby cooling the clay and keeping the milk cool. This is a predecessor to the modernday refrigerator. Redwares are particularly difficult to date, as they were in use through much of the American colonial period. They were popular containers until late in the 19th century, when less expensive potteries were introduced. Yellowwares account for a far greater share of the ceramic assemblage from Duck Creek Harbor. Yellowwares were manufactured by a number of American potteries from the 1830s through the 19th century and well into the 20th century. Yellowware continues to be used today in the making of kitchen mixing bowls. Pieces from Duck Creek include a number of bowls, cups, and plates, some plain, some fairly elaborately embossed, and some with decorative glazes. Finally, there is a large assemblage of saltglazed earthenware or stoneware from Duck Creek. This includes jugs, jars, bean pots, crocks, and wine bottles. Some containers are plain, and some have cobalt blue glazes, including one crock identifying a pottery manufacturing company, “_____ & Casey,” with an address at Kneeland Street, Boston.
Staffordshireware, or Ironstone China. By far the most abundant type of material to be recovered from the Duck Creek site is ironstone china, a fairly inexpensive, highly utilitarian china manufactured in the Staffordshire region of England, including the towns of Burslem, Cobridge, Tunstall, and Hanley. There are large and small fragments of plates of all sizes, bowls, cups, pitchers, basins, and chamberpots. These are among the most datable objects from the archaeological site, as many of the pieces have trade-marks transferprinted or stamped on the bottom of the container which identify the manufacturers of the products. The marks are readily identifiable in encyclopedias of British pottery and porcelain marks. Such manufacturers as Elsmore and Forster, Anthony Shaw, John Alcock, J. & G. Meakin, and J. Wedgwood are represented in pieces found. Although the McKinley Tariff Act of 1891 required that all ceramics imported into the United States show the place of manufacture, Staffordshire potteries were using makers marks as early as 1815. These marks allow the dating of pieces to a range of years for example, Elsmore & Forster ironstone china, with trade-marks often showing the British Royal Arms (lion & unicorn), were manufactured between 1853 and 1871. Anthony Shaw pieces made in Tunstall date to the period c18511856, while those made in the Staffordshire town of Burslem were manufactured between c1860 and c1900. Those pieces which have impressed registry marks record the actual day of manufacture through an encoded system, or at least the earliest date that the piece could have been manufactured. The Staffordshire ironstone china provides an important method for crossdating other objects in the entire collection of Duck Creek artifacts. Flow blue Staffordshire and feather edge patterning on plate edges are two of the more decorative forms of ironstone china recovered from the mud.
Pressed Glass. Several hundred fragments of pressed glass dishes, bowls, cups, pitchers, and other forms have been found. Pressed glass items were manufactured in a number of American glass companies throughout New England and eastern states. Among the most famous of these companies were the Boston and Sandwich Glass Works (Sandwich, Cape Cod), and the New England Glass Works (Boston). Pressed glass is highly collectable, and the patterns which were impressed on the glass are quite readily identifiable as to manufacturer and time of production. Two pressed glass pieces of particular interest to this study are Sandwich Glass whale oil lamps, the first manufactured in the early Sandwich Glass period of 18281835, and the second during 18401850.
The use of whale oil to provide a source of light in homes and on shipboard preceded the use of kerosene in 19th century America.
Glass Bottles. Approximately 1000 whole glass bottles and top and bottom fragments of another 1000 bottles have been found in the mud of Duck Creek. These bottles include containers for alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, liquors), medicinal bottles, bitters bottles, soda bottles, perfume bottles, and a variety of other glass containers. They are divided into those bottles which are embossed (e.g., Morse’s Celebrated Syrup; The Cuticura System of Curing Constitutional Humors; Mulford’s Predigested Beef; Kickapoo Indian Cough Cure; Dr. Kilmer’s Swamp Root, Kidney, Liver, and Bladder Cure; Dr. Hough’s Antiscrofula Syrup; Dr. Langley’s Root & Herb Bitters; Cape Cod Pilgrim Mineral Spring Company), and unembossed bottles, which may have geometric or inset panels, gothic arches, swirls, or a variety of other surface features, or they may be plain. Place of origin is shown on a number of the embossed bottles, and trade routes can be established for Wellfleet and other Cape Cod towns. The bottles can be used to establish changing methods of health care (bitters bottles contained medicines which were 1215% alcohol) and changing domestic culture (stove polish, foods, etc.). Bottles are dated by the height of the bottle seam extending up the neck of the bottle, and by the presence or absence of pontil marks, bubbles in the glass, irregularities, and other means.
Metalwares. A number of metal objects have been recovered from Duck Creek, including brass, iron, and pewter. Brass objects include kerosene lamp parts, a harbor telescope, a box iron, and a variety of brass fittings believed to have been used in the home and onboard ship. Ironwares include an eel spear, a harpoon, and a whale blubber flenzing blade. These objects are datable by their method of manufacture, and occasionally by embossing on parts, such as the wick adjusting knobs of kerosene lamp parts.
Leather. A small assemblage of leather items has come out of the mud, particularly women’s leather shoes, portions of which are in an excellent state of preservation due to having been buried in anaerobic muds for a hundred years or more. Several button shoes and lace shoes have been found, and they reflect styles of dress for the time periods involved.
Faunal Remains. Approximately 2000 animal bones have been found, primarily cow bones, but including deer, sheep, and dolphin and whale bones. These faunal remains can be studied for 19th century butchering techniques as well as for the socioeconomic levels of the people who were consuming the cuts of meat. Large leg bones, for example, reflect expensive cuts of meat such as roasts and steaks, and ribs reflect far less expensive cuts. While it is difficult to determine whether these bones originated in the garbage of the domestic homes along Commercial Street in Wellfleet or were dumped overboard from ships tied up at wharves in Duck Creek Harbor, one can speculate that the high percentage of ribs in the bone assemblage reflect cuts of meat that were used on shipboard, perhaps heavily salted for oceangoing voyages. One interesting rib fragment bears the patterned ink stains of a person presumably practicing the making of scrimshaw, most likely undertaken during a free moment at sea.