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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.

 

Queen Street umbrella components picture 1 
Queen Street umbrella components picture 2
Author: Bronwyn Woff

Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants

A group of umbrella/parasol fragments were recovered from the site of 1-5 Queen Street, Melbourne (H7822-1871) during excavations undertaken by Extent Heritage in 2018.

The site’s European history (Clark et al. 2019) starts in 1837, beginning with Pitman’s Store (a small building from which Frederick Pittman, a key trader of early Melbourne, ran a store) and a residence set back from the street. This was followed by a candle and soap works factory (Rae, Dickson & Co), which occupied the site from the 1840s to 1872. This factory then demolished, and a new building housing a range of shipping-related businesses was constructed in 1872. In 1911, the building was purchased by the Mercantile Mutual Insurance Company and was used as their Victorian headquarters until the 1950s. In 1955, the building was purchased by Fletcher Jones & Co for a retail store and was used for this purpose until 2011 (Clark et al, 2019).

The artefact collection was catalogued by Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants, and included a total of 6674 artefact fragments. Of particular interest were a group of artefacts excavated from what was interpreted by the excavators as a filtering tank, possibly for lye leeching, which is part of the candle making process. The artefacts recovered from the tank represent a one-off fill event, which most likely occurred at the time of the closing and abandonment of the candle and soap factory and before the new structures were constructed in 1872. The artefacts were probably deposited in the late 1860s or early 1870s, as none of the artefact manufacturing start dates are later than 1870 (Woff, Williamson & Biagi, 2019).

Queen Street umbrella components picture 3

Photo 1: Umbrella/parasol fragments from 1-5 Queen Street, Melbourne (Image supplied: Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants)

The tank context contained an interesting group of artefacts, which included nine fragments of composite umbrella/parasol stretchers (representing eight complete umbrella/parasol stretchers, enough for one complete umbrella/parasol) and three fragments of organic/wooden umbrella ribs, which were round in profile. The context also contained a large quantity (n=278) of textile fragments, which have at least three different weave styles, some of which may be associated with the umbrella/parasol (Woff, Williamson & Biagi, 2019).  

Parts of an umbrella

Photo 2: Parts of an umbrella (Image from: https://www.goinginstyle.com/blogs/news/parts-of-an-umbrella )

Umbrellas are multi-part objects, and a simple umbrella/parasol can include up to 112 different parts (Hooper 2016: 30-31). These parts can be made from a range of materials including, but not limited to: wood, textiles, metals, baleen and ivory (Hooper 2016: 1). Our fragments are comprised of a range of materials. The stretchers are composite, made from iron alloy, copper alloy and a wood-like organic material. The ribs are made from the same wood-like organic material, which may be cane or a similar material. Hooper suggests that baleen “was the primary material used for ribs until 1852” when steel ribs were invented that were much lighter and stronger (2016: 8), however, both materials were shaped to be flat or rectangular in section (Hooper 2016: 8), whereas our fragments are round. The textiles recovered from this context were not obviously related to an umbrella or parasol by style or construction, but some may be associated with the umbrella fragments recovered.

fashion plate

Photo 3: Fashion plate showing umbrella (Image from: https://vintagedancer.com/victorian/lace-victorian-parasol-and-umbrellas-for-sale/ )

The terms umbrella and parasol were used interchangeably in 19th century advertising (Hooper 2016: 24 – 30). These items were seen as “primarily public objects, used to shield their bearers from the elements encountered when venturing outside. These objects function in images as fashionable and practical tools, mediating the relationship between individuals and their rural or urban surroundings” (Hooper 2016: 166). Although the reason for the discard of this object is unknown, this group of artefacts links to ideas of fashion and domestic life, and provides a glimpse in to the fashions of early urban Melbourne in the 1860s.

References:

Clark, C, Douglas, P, Petkov, B & Rubio Perez, R 2019. 1–5 Queen Street, Melbourne (H7822-1871) Historical Archaeological Excavation Report HV #4930. Prepared by Extent Heritage for Hutchinson Builders.

Hooper, R 2016. Out of the shade: uncovering the manufacture and use of umbrellas and parasols, 1830 -1840. Masters Thesis submitted for the University of Delaware.

Woff, B, Williamson, C & Biagi, C 2019, Artefact Report 1 – 5 Queen Street, Melbourne (H7822-1871). Prepared for Extent Heritage

Going in Style 2017, Parts of an umbrella, image, Going In Style, viewed 12 Februaru 2020 < https://www.goinginstyle.com/blogs/news/parts-of-an-umbrella >

Buck, A, 1961, Fashion plate showing umbrella, image, Vintage Dancer, viewd 13 February 2020 < https://vintagedancer.com/victorian/lace-victorian-parasol-and-umbrellas-for-sale/ >

 

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 Nadia Bajzelj

Excavations at the Wesley Church precinct were carried out by Dr. Vincent Clark and Associates in 2017, a site which is located between Lonsdale and Little Lonsdale streets in the Melbourne CBD. The residences at Jones Lane were brick houses with bluestone footings, ranging in size from two to four rooms.

This month’s ‘Artefact of the Month’ was found in one of the residences along Jones Lane, which ran between Lonsdale and Little Lonsdale streets. This masonic stickpin, which is a decorative pin used to secure men’s cravats or neck ties. Stickpins generally date from the early 19th century, and though the date for this one is still being pinned down, it is dated to broadly between the late 19th and early 20th century.

This stick pin is 76mm in length and is made from copper alloy, delicately shaped in twisted ropes around a clear oval piece of glass. The glass has a thin veneer of shell over the top, cut into the Masonic symbol of a square and compass. The motif is interesting as our background research on the site shows a number of different businesses, but none related to stone masons. The analysis of the artefacts from the site is still in progress, so our knowledge of the site at this stage is still preliminary, but we hope that we can research the inhabitants of this residence and identify any members of the Masonic Lodge.

For more information see: http://vincentclark.com.au/2017/05/jones-lane-historical-archaeology/



Jeanne Harris,Urban Analysts

In 1872 Hiram Codd patented his famous aerated water bottle with its unique internal marble stopper. Once opened the bottle’s ingeniously designed neck kept the marble from obstructing the flow of liquid. But have you ever wondered how a Codd bottle was opened in the first place?

Figure 1 Wooden Codd Bottle Opener (Courtesy: https://www.quora.com/There-was-a-harsh-drink-in-India-with-a-ball-in-the-glass-bottle-that-they-called-Soda-What-is-it)

Most people simple used their finger to push the marble into the bottle, but this necessitated clean hands and often resulted in sore fingers. Fortunately, Codd also developed a bottle opener especially designed to open his bottles. Copied and modified by others, bottle openers for Codd bottles were primarily made from wood, such as boxwood or sycamore (Figure 1) and were more rarely made of glass (Figure 2).

Figure 2 Glass Codd Bottle Opener (Courtesy E. Jeanne Harris)

This type of opener is often referred to as a “codswallop” - a term used to mean nonsense. Wordsmiths suggest that the term is derived from ‘cod’s wallop’, meaning ‘bad beer’, but since the first documented use of codswallop was 1959, it is more probable that it is a term adopted by 20th -century bottle collectors (Chapman, 1992, p.56).

References:
Chapman, Raymond 1992 “One's vocabulary considerably increased”, English Today. Volume 32 October 1992, Cambridge Press, p 56.



Bronwyn Woff

This month’s Artefact of the Month an interesting looking bulk ink bottle with multiple impressed marks found on its body and base. This bottle was found on a historic excavation in the north of Melbourne’s CBD. It was excavated during works for a multi-story apartment building, from a c1850s+ light industrial site.


The ink bottle is made from stoneware, with a light brown salt glaze, and has an unusual square-shaped finish and spout. It stands 205mm tall, and has a diameter of 90mm. The bottle is well marked, with two makers marks (17 / DOULTON / LAMBETH and 3 / DOULTON / LAMBETH) on the base and on the body near the base respectively, as well as a registration diamond (IV / 28 / 9 Rd V / W) representing 28 March 1876 on the body near the base.

The two Doulton / Lambeth marks on the base and body of the bottle indicate that it was made by Doulton & Co. The company began as a partnership in the early 1800s, and worked from a pottery in Lambeth. From 1854 the company became Doulton and Co, and began using marks similar to those seen on this artefact. The company was granted a Royal Warrant in 1901, and from 1902 began adding ‘Royal’ to their mark, as well as a crown and lion (http://thepotteries.org/allpotters/356.htm).


Registration diamond marks such as these were used to denote that the design of an object, or the design of the decoration (for example, ceramic or textile patterns) were copyrighted to the designer. The diamond itself notes the date that the registration occurred, and therefore marks only a start date for that object. For more information on registration diamonds on ceramics, see A. Brooks An Archaeological Guide to British Ceramics in Australia 1788-1901 2005:74 which was published by The Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology and The La Trobe University Archaeology Program (although out-of-print, the complete book is available as a download for all current ASHA members through the members portal HERE).



Bronwyn Woff, ASHA Blog Editor

Welcome to the final Artefact of the Month (AotM) post for 2017! I hope that you have enjoyed reading the articles put together by our members about interesting artefacts they’ve come across.

We started AotM in February, with ‘Absinthe Bottles at Little Lon’ by Dr Sarah Hayes, and followed with two more articles on glass in March and April – ‘Bullseye! Pontilled Window Glass’ by Bronwyn Woff and ‘Kirin Beer Bottle’ by Melissa Dunk. In May Catherine Tucker shared with us an engraved fork excavated from a Pentridge Prison rubbish tip. In June we headed across the ditch to check out a variety of ceramics excavated from Christchurch in an article by Jessie Garland. 'French Fire Bricks' were our next Artefact of the Month article, with the first of three articles for the year by Felicity Buckingham and Zvonka Stanin. In August Fiona Shanahan showed how artefacts can provide us with proof of once-off events, with the camera lens of a F-52 photoreconnaissance camera used in WWII. In September we continued the aeroplane-related theme, with Miss Australia Air League Badges from the 1950s by Felicity Buckingham. Our ASHA Secretary Caiti D’Gluyas provided us with an interesting look at ‘The Hated Stain’ of convictism through a medal commemorating the Cessation of Convict Transportation in October and we rounded off the year with a final AotM article by Zvonka Stanin demonstrating the fashion of men’s Broad Fall Trousers.

Thanks go out to the authors of each of our submissions for 2017. We are currently looking for Artefact of the Month articles for 2018, so if you have an artefact that you’re interested in writing about (or just want to show it off to fellow archaeologists!) then please email blog@asha.org.au



Zvonka Stanin

These trousers are some of the more complete textiles items recovered during the 2017 Alpha Archaeology excavation of the former Carlton United Brewery (CUB2) complex in Swanston Street, Carlton. When excavated, they appeared to be sandwiched between wooden floor boards and a mid-19th century cesspit deposit. Their original condition, was described by the CUB2 conservator Jeff Fox as a ‘mass of unidentified textile covered in mud. Unable to determine form/shape’.


The conservation process which included wet cleaning, immersion by an ultrasonic bath, and freeze drying, separated the textile mass into a more recognisable pattern of garment components. These include front and back ‘trouser’ panels with folded edges that appeared to have been once stitched and before being unpicked. All the major panels appear to be made of a coarse brown and black cotton or wool material, woven tightly on the weft. Thick, horizontal lines are barely apparent on each panel; whether this fading is due to use or taphonomic conditions has yet to be determined. Button holes and matching button imprints on different pieces confirm that the trousers were once more complete.


By tracing individual fragments to create a working canvas mock-up, we were able to show how the trouser panels were placed together, with a front ‘panel’ buttoning onto an underlying waistband which was also buttoned, most likely by four-hole sew through bone or wooden buttons which were common types at the CUB2. The back panel creates exceptional room, in a fit that is otherwise tall and slim, and a good example of the style of construction not commonly discussed in Australian archaeological literature: the ‘fall front‘, ‘drop front fall’, ‘flap pants’ style of men’s pants. The style is understandably associated with convenience; the pattern allows the ‘fall’ to be opened without necessarily unfastening the waistband (or ‘drop your trousers’). A narrower version of the fall (narrow fall) seems to have been the dominant style for breeches, pantaloons, trousers, and overalls from the French Revolution (1790) until the 1840s, when the centre button closure became more common. The ‘broad fall’ style of the CUB2 example, where the ‘fall’ stretches from hip to hip, may have been introduced later (http://www.northwestjournal.ca/VI6, sourced 10/10/2017, but see the Met pants below).


Analysis of the CUB2 trousers so far hints at a manifold significance. The combination of the ‘broad fall’ style and striped fabric appears to have few publicly known comparisons (see for example, https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/79497?rpp=20&pg=1&ao=on&ft=Trousers&pos=17, sourced 10/10/2017). The striped design is reminiscent of the popular taste for patterns in ‘gentleman’s’ fashion of the 1850s and early 1860s, the period that coincides with the Victorian gold rush; and all that it entails. It counters any expectations of ‘dullness’ and ‘conformity’, typical of the latter 19th and early 20th century city clothing for men - all dark colours and creased trousers - and even widens the gaze past those numerous S. T. Gills’ paintings, with their whimsy neckerchiefs at the centre. Can the paintings tell us what kind of man wore these? Broader fashion discourse tells us to ‘go easy’. Through the interplay of economic wealth, and contact between large numbers of people of different classes, social or other standing during this period, fashion became much less of a marker of status than previously known; or than continued in England or Europe (Maynard 1994). The trousers do indicate care and re-use, through the effort it would have taken to unpick all the seams and button holes, which may suggest that both the pattern and material continued to be important.

The brief mock-up experiment was a collaborative effort between Allison Bruce (La Trobe), Olivia Arnold (UNE), Felicity Buckingham and myself. The latter can be contacted on felicitybuckingam@yahoo.com or zstanin50@gmail.com

Images by Z Stanin:
1 Trouser fabric recovered in association with cesspit deposits from CUB2. The right half shows the back of the trousers most completely.
2 The front trouser panels, with the blue marker showing the position of the button holes.
3 The front trouser panels, not including the lining for the ‘fall’ (see image 1). Note that the pockets were more likely under the ‘fall’ as in image 2.

References:
Maynard, Margaret 1994, Fashioned from penury: dress as cultural practice in colonial Australia, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge [England]; New York
http://www.northwestjournal.ca/VI6, sourced 10/10/2017.
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/79497?rpp=20&pg=1&ao=on&ft=Trousers&pos=17, sourced 10/10/2017