Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Over the next few months we’ll be sharing some highlights from the Old York Historical Society’s “The Best of York” exhibit.  The public can view these objects during the 2017 season.

Today’s “Best of York” object is a late Gothic reinforced document box.  The box is oak with wrought iron fittings and an interior till for storing coins. Made in Belgium or the Netherlands around 1550, the box was decades old by the time New England was successfully settled in the 1620s.

The box descended in the family of Henry Sewall (1576–1655) who was born in Coventry, England, and immigrated to Massachusetts in 1634. His great-grandson, Captain Samuel Sewall (1688–1769) settled in York around 1708. Henry’s father, Henry Sewall, Sr. (1544–1624), had been a wealthy linen merchant or linen-draper in the city of Coventry.

In the 16th century, Flanders (now part of Belgium), held a monopoly on the production and sale of fine linen.  English merchants like Henry Sewall, Sr., regularly imported large quantities of costly Flemish linen brocade, which may explain why this 16th-century Flemish-style box belonged to the Sewall family of York, Maine.

Old York staff discovered a nearly identical 16th century lock in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, seen here.

“The Best of York” exhibit features over seventy rare artifacts, most made or used between 1690 and 1850 in Southern Maine and the Piscataqua Region of New Hampshire. Many of these objects have previously been in storage, or were part of period room settings in historic buildings. Together, they tell the story of one of New England’s oldest communities development from a frontier outpost in the 17th century to a community of sophisticated tastes and world views.

The exhibit is open to the public during regular museum hours, Memorial Day through October.  Please visit the Old York website for more information: oldyork.org.

Read Full Post »

1978.309 (2)

This week’s mystery object is a seam rubber. Like its name implies, it was used to smooth and flatten the heavy canvas, making creases in sails before the seams were stitched.

The fact that it is carved from whalebone adds another interesting component. Originally, the term “scrimshaw” referred to objects made by sailors from the byproducts of whaling, such as bone, teeth and baleen. A seam rubber would have been an important tool in a sailor’s kit. Over time, the term scrimshaw has come to include the more whimsical pieces made by sailors in their spare time.

Read Full Post »

This week’s mystery object was a little tricky. The bottle which depicts the image of General Taylor on one side and George Washington on the other, was produced by Dyottville Glass Works between 1847-1849.

1972 .25x

In the early 1800s Englishman Thomas W. Dyott purchased an earlier glass works near Philadelphia and built an establishment called “Dyottville” which operated into the 1930’s. Dyottville was more than a glass factory; it was a home for 300 boys and  young men. It operated as a small community complete with a school, church, hospital, library and a farm. These workers were obliged to follow a strict code of ethics:

1.  No swearing, improper or abusive language.
2. $5 fine or dismissal for breaking the rule prohibiting liquor on the premises.
3. $5 fine for disobeying the orders of a superior.
4. Personal cleanliness and “necessary ablution” before meals, school and church.
5. Use of all fines to purchases books for the Dyottville Apprentices Library.
6. Strict prohibition of every species of gambling.
7. Immediate notification of the one’s superior in case of illness, so another could take his station in the factory.

The irony was code #2; workers who produced liquor bottles were prohibited from inbibing alcohol!

Read Full Post »

h.1982.882.4x

This is one of four porcelain plates brought back to York, Maine by Miss Elizabeth Perkins and her mother, Mary (Sowles) Perkins, from their travels to Russia (1896 & 1909). It can be identified as being from Imperial Russia not only by the double-headed eagle in the center, but also by the cyrillics (“lettering”) that are used. The Russian orthography was changed shortly after the 1917 revolution; the plates retain the older cyrillics from the late 19th-early 20th centuries.

The set was made by the Korniloff Brothers, who had a factory in St. Petersburg, Russia. The factory closed in 1918 when all businesses were privatized by the government.

All four of the plates in the collection feature cyrillics around the rim which give different Russian proverbs relating to food. This plate roughly translates as “If the bread is not yours, don’t open your mouth.”

Read Full Post »

h.1978.74x-whole

This week’s mystery object is a sausage press. Ground up meat was placed inside the hollow tin cylinder and a natural casing was placed over the spout.  As the wooden plunger was depressed the base of the plunger would push the meat down, forcing the meat out of the spout and into the casing.

Sausage making was a fall activity, making efficient use of leftover bits of meat from slaughtered animals as well as their intestines for casings. The sausages were eaten fresh or preserved by cooking or smoking. Cooked sausages were placed in a crock and covered with melted lard. Once the lard hardened, the contents of the crock would become air-tight, keeping the sausages preserved until the weather grew warm.

H.1978.74-2

Read Full Post »

2005.3C

This week’s mystery object was found by donor Elizabeth Boardman at a local yard sale. They belonged to Herman A. Starkey (1897-1983) who worked as groundskeeper at the York Golf and Tennis Club. The horseshoe shape is no accident; the four steel plates were used to protect the grass at the golf course from a horse’s hooves.

2005.3C-1

 

 

Read Full Post »

1970.24x-front

This particular medal belonged to Joseph Albie Sewall (1839-1922) of York who served as a private in Company G, 27th Maine. Contracted to a 9-month campaign, the 25th Maine was first asked to stay behind to defend Washington, D.C. in June, 1863,  due to the invasion of Pennsylvania by Robert E. Lee (the Gettysburg Campaign). They declined. The 27th Maine was then asked to help and 300 men agreed to stay behind. Initially, these soldiers were told that “Medals of Honor would be given to that portion of the regiment that volunteered to remain.” The battle was soon over and they left Washington for home on July 4th, reuniting with the rest of the regiment in Portland for their mustering out on July 17th. Later there was a disagreement as to which of the men actually served since records had not been kept. Commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Mark F. Wentworth, who had witnessed great sacrifice and valor in the battlefields, did not believe that the soldiers of the 27th deserved the medals. A few of the medals were distributed unofficially, but were purged by congress in 1917. This medal was given to the Museums of Old York by Joseph’s granddaughter, Anne Elizabeth  (Sewall) Bowden in 1970.

There were a total of 949 men listed on the muster rolls for the 27th Maine. During their service, the regiment lost nineteen men by disease and one was killed by the accidental discharge of his musket.

The medal is also known as “Minerva Repulsing Discord”. Taken in the context of the Civil War soldiers and sailors struggling to overcome the discord of the states and preserve the Union, the design was as fitting as it was symbolic. The medal depicts Minerva, the Roman virgin goddess of wisdom, fighting Discord, the Roman goddess of strife.

1970.24x-back

Reverse side is engraved, “The Congress to Joseph A. Sewall, C. G. 27th Me. Vol.”

 

 

1

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »