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ASHA NEWS

 

 
Author: Nadia Bajzelj,Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants

In 2019, GML Heritage Pty Ltd (GML) were engaged by ISPT Pty Ltd (ISPT) to undertake an historical archaeological investigation of 364-378 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. This location encompasses two sites listed on the Victorian Heritage Inventory (H7822-1024 and H7822-1025). The sites were used as domestic residences (1864-1918) before the construction of a Women’s VD Clinic (1918) and a Tuberculosis Bureau (1928) (GML 2019). The recovered artefact collection, comprising approximately 40,000 artefact fragments, was catalogued and analysed by Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants.

364-378 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne toilet wares

Photo 1: toilet wares from 364-378 Little Lonsdale Street (photograph by Grace Stephenson-Gordon, Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants)

The items pictured are ceramic artefacts relating to 19th-century hygiene practises. The majority of these items are chamber pots, but a chamber pot lid, wash basin and a brush box and lid were also identified. All are made from earthenware and decorated with transfer printed designs in black, blue, green and purple. These artefacts are from high significance contexts associated with the single-storey cottages of 366, 368 and 370 Little Lonsdale Street.

Concepts of hygiene during the 19th-century were evolving and changing dramatically from those of previous centuries. In earlier eras a link had been made between bathing and the spread of disease, but the people of the 19th-century began to see the relationship between cleanliness and disease prevention, with cleanliness becoming closely tied with a person’s respectability (Davidoff and Hall 2002: 382; Everleigh 2002: 65; Grigg 2008; Halliday 1999: 17). 'Cleanliness, like good manners became an indicator of respectability while dirt and squalor were seen as threats to moral as well as physical health' (Everleigh 2002: 65). Having a full toilet service was therefore highly desirable for 19th-century homes, and would have included items such as the chamber pot (possibly with a cover), large and small wash basins and ewers, a covered soap box with drainer, a covered sponge bowl, a covered toothbrush box or toothbrush vase, a foot bath and many additional extras (Copeland 2000: 24).

The chamber pots excavated from 364-378 Little Lonsdale Street represent the most common hygiene items recovered from 19th-century domestic sites. Chamber pots were stored under the bed or in a nightstand. When looking at the alternative toilet solution of the 19th-century – the water closet – which was located outside the house, the usefulness of the chamber pot is obvious. The chamber pot was a convenient option when needing to use the toilet in the middle of the night as it did not necessitate trudging outside in the cold and dark. In the morning, the pot would be emptied and cleaned and the waste disposed of. But wouldn’t this smell be rather overwhelming when you went back to bed? Yes, strangely enough human waste was no better then, than it is now. In order to minimise odours, chamber pots were usually (but not always) covered with pieces of cloth, newspapers, or a chamber pot lid (as pictured).

364-378 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne toilet wares

Photo 2: chamber pot with lid from 364-378 Little Lonsdale Street (photograph by Grace Stephenson-Gordon, Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants)

REFERENCES
COPELAND, R. 2000: Ceramic Bygones and other unusual domestic pottery. A Shire Book. Great Britain.
DAVIDOFF, L. and C. HALL 2002: "'My own fireside': the creation of the middle-class home." Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class 1780-1850. Revised Edition. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 357-396.
EVELEIGH, D.J. 2002: Bogs, Baths and Basins: The Story of Domestic Sanitation. Stroud, England: Sutton.
GML 2019: 364-378 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Historical Archaeological Research Design. Report to Case Meallin Pty Ltd & ISPT Pty Ltd.
GRIGG, T. 2008: Health & Hygiene in Nineteenth Century England in Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/articles/1615, accessed 02 May 2019.
HALLIDAY, S. 1999: The Great Stink of London: Sir Joseph Bazalgette and the Cleansing of the Victorian Capital. Sutton Publishing Ltd, England.

ASHA events
Daniel J. Leahy, University of New England, Armidale, NSW

In late February 2020, two service trenches were dug across Curtis Park, which is located along the Dumaresq Creek in central Armidale, NSW. The trenches are believed to be works associated with the initial developments of a current million-dollar project which will see a section of the park converted into a regional playground (Green 2019). In the process of digging these trenches, numerous historical artefacts – including broken glass, broken ceramics, and iron nails – were removed from their context and strewn across the publicly accessible surface of Curtis Park. This situation mobilised members of the University of New England (UNE) Archaeology Society to volunteer their time to conduct field-walking surveys in early March in an effort to identify and record these artefacts. During this process the risk these artefacts posed to the public (jagged metal/glass/ceramic etc), as well as the risk to the artefacts themselves through surface exposure or trampling, was highlighted and the decision taken to systematically recover the artefacts from the surface of the park.

IMAGE 1 – Front view of Lea & Perrins’ glass bottle stopper that was located on the surface of Curtis Park, Armidale, NSW, March 2020 (M. Zarb).IMAGE 1 – Front view of Lea & Perrins’ glass bottle stopper that was located on the surface of Curtis Park, Armidale, NSW, March 2020 (M. Zarb).

IMAGE  2 – Side view of Lea & Perrins’ glass bottle stopper that was located on the surface of Curtis Park, Armidale, NSW, March 2020 (M. Zarb).IMAGE 2 – Side view of Lea & Perrins’ glass bottle stopper that was located on the surface of Curtis Park, Armidale, NSW, March 2020 (M. Zarb).

European use of the site dates back to about 1846 when John Trim, a former convict , built a store along the North Road near the ford crossing the creek (Gibbs 2019:3). In 1927 the site was named ‘Curtis Park’ after one of Armidale’s prior mayors, William Curtis (1858-1934) (The Armidale Express 13 Dec. 1927:6; Armidale Regional Council 2017). The area was prone to flooding, with damaging floods reported to have occurred in 1863, 1893, and during the early 1950s (The Armidale Express 4 Apr. 1863:2, 14 Mar. 1893:4, 9 Oct. 1950:6), and required subsequent levelling through the import of landfill. In October 2019, a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey of the park was conducted by Professor Martin Gibbs and volunteers from UNE, in collaboration with the Armidale Regional Council, as a student training exercise (Gibbs 2019:2). This survey located a buried compressed surface which, when aligned with historical maps, was interpreted as being the historic North Road, which ran roughly northeast through the park (Gibbs 2019:11-14). Due to these results, and the fact that a number of artefacts were found on the surface of the park during the GPR survey, it was recommended that ‘the area still contains significant archaeological deposits that should be preserved and interpreted’ (Gibbs 2019:14). However, to the best of the author’s knowledge at the time of writing, no formal archaeological consultancy or additional archaeological investigation has been conducted at the site.

One of the artefacts recovered during the March 2020 survey was a - small glass bottle stopper measuring approximately 31mm long and 25mm at its maximum diameter, with the brand name ‘LEA & PERRINS’ embossed on its top. Lea & Perrins was formed in Worcester, England, in 1837 when John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins began selling their newly created Worcestershire Sauce and, by the 1850s, the condiment was being exported to all parts of the British Empire (Lea & Perrins n.d.). Plain corks were initially used to seal the sauce bottles, but by about the 1840s Lea & Perrins adopted a glass stopper with a cork-wrapped shank, which continued to be used until it was replaced by a patented polyethelene pour plug and plastic screw-type closure in the late 1950s (Lunn 1981:3). Today, the sauce continues to be exported to over 130 countries (Lea & Perrins n.d.).

IMAGE 3 – Two styles of Lea & Perrins’ glass stoppers have been located in archaeological contexts at Fort Walsh, Saskatchewan, Canada (reproduced from Lunn 1981:4). The stopper located in Curtis Park is most similar to the style depicted on the right.

IMAGE 3 – Two styles of Lea & Perrins’ glass stoppers have been located in archaeological contexts at Fort Walsh, Saskatchewan, Canada (reproduced from Lunn 1981:4). The stopper located in Curtis Park is most similar to the style depicted on the right.

While a number of other artefacts have been located during the recent field-walking surveys, the Lea & Perrins’ bottle stopper has so far proven to be the most iconic. Once the brand name was read aloud while on site, all those taking part in the exercise immediately understood its connection to the condiment still sold at local supermarkets. The artefact has been robbed of its context through the digging of the service trench, and therefore it is impossible to say whether it is directly related to events which took place at the site in the nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, or whether it was redeposited in landfill when the park was levelled at some point during the mid-late twentieth century. It has, however, given a handful of archaeology students and volunteers a brief glimpse into the past lives of those in Armidale region, while remaining as a tangible connection to the present.

IMAGE 4 – Lea & Perrins’ Worcestershire Sauce available to purchase in an Armidale supermarket, March 2020 (D.J. Leahy).

IMAGE 4 – Lea & Perrins’ Worcestershire Sauce available to purchase in an Armidale supermarket, March 2020 (D.J. Leahy).

Thanks to Dr Mark Moore, Dr James Roberts, Julie Harm, Peter O’Donohue, and Meaghan ‘May’ Zarb for taking part in various aspects of this exercise. Thanks also to Professor Martin Gibbs, Jeanne Harris, and Emma Watt for sharing their expertise and knowledge. It is hoped that a more complete paper documenting the historical artefacts located at Curtis Park will be published in a future volume of Australasian Historical Archaeology.

REFERENCES

THE ARMIDALE EXPRESS

ARMIDALE REGIONAL COUNCIL 2017, ‘William Curtis’, https://www.armidaleregional.nsw.gov.au/our-region/history-and-heritage/mayors-of-the-region/armidale-city-council/william-curtis, accessed 12 March 2020.

GIBBS, M. 2019, Ground Penetrating Radar Survey, Curtis Park, Trim’s Store Site, Armidale. Unpublished report prepared for the Armidale Regional Council, October 2019.

GREEN, S. 2019, ‘Armidale’s Curtis Park super playground a year with little to show’, The Armidale Express, 17 September 2019, https://www.armidaleexpress.com.au/story/6389851/million-dollar-super-playground-hard-to-get-off-the-ground/, accessed 11 March 2020.

LEA & PERRINS n.d., ‘Our story’, Lea & Perrins UK, https://www.leaandperrins.co.uk/our-story, accessed 11 March 2020.

LUNN, K. 1981, ‘Identification and dating of Lea and Perrins’ Worcestershire Sauce bottles on Canadian historic sites: Interpretations past and present’, Canadian Journal of Archaeology 5:1-17.

ASHA events
ASHA Events short
Compiled by Blog Editor

On 26 September 2018, ASHA held a workshop on Artefact Identification and Analysis as part of the 2018 ASHA/AIMA Conference in Parramatta.

There was a good turnout of members, students and non-members with 25 attending each session.

Specialists talked on the artefact categories that are often, if not always, found during excavations. These categories also have the dubious reputation of being the hardest to catalogue because of their huge range of functions, fabrics, decor, manufacturing techniques etc.

This workshop also provided an ideal opportunity to showcase one of Australia’s earliest potters, Thomas Ball, so we can recognise, and therefore verify the presence of Ball’s work on sites in and around Sydney.

All presenters arrived laden with interesting artefacts that helped demonstrate the identification technique with a hands-on approach.

Jeanne Harris held two sessions and talked on the topics of ceramics and glass.

Robyn Stocks talked about two categories close to her heart, miscellaneous and building materials.

Mary Casey and Bernadette McCall prepared and presented a session on identifying Thomas Ball pottery.

Each presenter has provided ASHA with their guides on their chosen topics and these resources are now available to ASHA members.

The guides can be found at 

https://asha-2015.worldsecuresystems.com/secure_zone/workshop-resources

The workshop was extremely interesting and enjoyable and there are plans for more workshops heading your way. Watch this space.

Compiled by Blog Editor

Members may be interested in a range of archaeology-related blogs available to access, that can be found no the following link: http://pastthinking.com/links/

Compiled by Blog Editor

There have been no submissions for Artefact of the Month recieved this month (email blog@asha.org.au if you would like to submit for the June edition!) however I've come across a great blog from our North American friends: The American Artifacts Blog!

This blog "is a media outlet featuring artifact-related digital content from U.S. and Canadian archaeologists. [You can use] the blog to search, explore and learn about North American history through material culture." The artefacts featured include both historic and pre-historic time periods, and are provided by archaeologists across the region.

For more see: https://americanartifactsblog.com/

Written by Dr Christine Williamson, Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants

In 2016 Extent Heritage were engaged by the Department of Parliamentary Services, Parliament of Victoria to undertaken excavations within the grounds of Victoria’s Parliament House. This location includes the site of the former St Peter’s Diocesan Grammar School (H7822-2339), which was constructed in 1849. The excavations yielded a collection of 10122 artefacts, among which were 18 pieces of at least two glass target balls. Unfortunately, these pieces were recovered from unstratified contexts that include materials deposited with nightsoil that was dumped across much of inner Melbourne in the late 19th century and therefore cannot be definitively tied to on-site activities. However, in and of themselves, they are interesting objects.


PLATE 1: Some of the Parliament House target ball fragments (Supplied: Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants).

The target balls are made of cobalt-blue glass, are 65mm in diameter and have a grid pattern on the surface. The items are round, with the exception of a protruding opening (Plate 1 above). They have been created by blowing glass into a 2-piece mould with the rough lip on the opening formed when the glass was broken away from the blowpipe. The raised pattern on the surface of the balls was designed to prevent shot from ricocheting off the smooth ball (Kerr nd). Unlike the complete items illustrated in Plate 2 below, the Parliament House artefacts do not have a maker’s mark. The style of the Parliament House balls is the same as ‘an extremely rare ball’ that was made in Australia (targetballs.com, Plate 3 below). I have not been able to find any information on Australian glass target ball manufacturers, other than Frederick Bolton Hughes of the South Australian Glass Bottle Company. He made glass target balls between 1896 and 1913, but his items are embossed with his initials ( pssatrap.org).


PLATE 2: A collection of glass target balls (peachridgeglass.com).


PLATE 3: Australian-made glass target ball (targetballs.com).

Glass target balls, in a range of bright colours that would be easily visible as they were launched into the sky, were manufactured from about the 1860s until the end of the 19th century, with their main period of use between 1875 and 1885 (antiquebottles.com; glassbottle marks.com; peachridgeglass.com). At the height of their popularity, the Bohemian Glass Works in New York City produced 1.2 million glass target balls in a six-month period, each of which sold for just over a penny (Finch ndb).


PLATE 4: Target ball trap (peachridgeglass.com)


PLATE 5: Target ball trap (targetballs.com)

The ‘invention’ of glass target ball shooting is credited to Charles Portlock of Boston, who organised the first competitive glass target shoots in in 1867 (Kerr nd). The glass balls were hailed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as an invention that ‘supersedes the necessity of inflicting pain and suffering to pigeons hitherto used by marksmen as a medium for obtaining accuracy of aim’ (Henry Berg letter dated 7/8/1876 in Finch nda) and one patent trap was named ‘The Pigeon’s Friend’. The early traps were of limited popularity as they simply threw the ball straight up into the air. However, in 1877 a trap was patented that cast the balls in a 60-foot-long arc and other patents soon followed (Kerr nd, plates 4 and 5 above). By the late 19th century glass target balls were rapidly replaced with clay targets that were considered safer as they did not lead to large amounts of broken glass falling from the sky and scattering across the ground.

However, glass target balls remained popular in shooting competitions, exhibitions, circuses and Wild West shows. The ‘Ira Paines’ Filled Ball’, popularised by shooter Ira Paines, was filled with feathers and powder so that when the ball broke apart it resembled a bird being shot (Kerr nd). Annie Oakley is said to have filled her glass balls with streamers that burst from the item when it broke apart (Meyer 2012). The balls were also used as a solid, curved surface for darning socks on and for teething babies (Finch ndb) and were sometimes repurposed as Christmas decorations (glassbottlemarks.com).


Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants

Extent Heritage

References
Finch, R. nda Who’s on First? Portlock, Paine, Moreson? www.targetballs.com
Finch, R. ndb. What are Target Balls? www.targetballs.com
Kerr, A. nd. For Fun, Sure as Shooting – Target Balls Hit the Mark. www.traphof.org
Meyer, F. 2012. Target Glass, Glass Made to Be Broken www.peachridgeglass.com

Written by Caiti D'Gluyas

The next ASHA reading group is being hosted by Casey and Lowe and will be held on 22nd March. This is a semi-regular (quarterly) opportunity to catch-up with other historical archaeologists and discuss themes of interest.

Topic: Historical Artefacts
Facilitator: Robyn Stocks, Senior Artefact Specialist, Casey and Lowe
Location: Casey and Lowe Offices, 51 Reuss Street, LEICHHARDT NSW 2040
Time: 6pm, Thursday 22nd March 2017

Primary Readings
Davies, P. 2005 ‘Writing Slates and Schooling in Victoria’, Australasian Historical Archaeology 23:63-69.
Gojak, D. & I. Stuart 1999 ‘The Potential for the Archaeological Study of Clay, Tobacco Pipes from Australian Sites’, Australasian Historical Archaeology 17:38-49.
Klippel, W.E. & G.F. Schroedl 1999 ‘African slave craftsmen and single-hole bone discs from Brimstone Hill, St Kitts, West Indies’, Post-Medieval Archaeology 33:22–232.

Secondary Readings
Varman, R.V.J. 1993 Bricks and Nails: Building Materials as Criteria for Dating in Sydney and Environs from 1788, A Documentary Survey and Assessment of Dating Potential, Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Sydney. Available online at https://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/handle/2123/1205

Contact secretary@asha.org.au if you are finding it difficult to find the readings.

The event is free and open to anyone who is interested, however, RSVPs are essential (to secretary@asha.org.au), so please get in touch if you would like to come!


Sarah Hayes

Absinthe Bottles and Prostitution in Early Colonial Melbourne

This absinthe bottle is one of 10 recovered from a rubbish pit associated with Mrs Bond’s grocer in Melbourne’s notorious Little Lon district. Absinthe, or the green fairy, was a hallucinogenic alcoholic drink available from the 18th century but reaching new heights of popularity in bohemian Paris in the late-19th century; coinciding nicely with the timing of Mrs Bond’s grocery. But was it a grocery? The absinthe bottles, along with French champagne bottles and 300 oyster shells, have led us to reinterpret the use of this site. Mrs Bond had been operating brothels in Little Lon for years and the historical documents gave the impression she had given it all up to run a respectable grocery business. The artefacts tell a different story. It seems her grocery was actually a cover for a high class brothel.

Sarah's professional facebook page, where this information was originally posted, can be found at:
https://www.facebook.com/SarahHResearch/?fref=ts

(Photos by Bronwyn Woff)