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ASHA NEWS

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



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.




Fiona Shanahan

The bombing of Darwin in February 1942 resulted in the establishment of 10 main airbases with two additional satellite bases for each main base in Australia’s Northern Territory. Coomalie was one of Batchelor’s satellite airbases and was home to Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadrons 31 and 87 (87 was born from No. 1 Photo Reconnaissance Unit at Coomalie). 87 Squadron was a photoreconnaissance unit that flew Mosquito aircraft.

The F–52 camera was a World War II British photoreconnaissance camera and the Coomalie Mosquitos were fitted with these advanced cameras for the duration of the war.

There was only one fatal aircraft crash at Coomalie for the entire war. It occurred in August 1945, resulting in the death of pilot Gillespie and serious burns to navigator Haynes. The aircraft crash occurred due to the aircraft suddenly veering off the airstrip during take-off (Mosquitos were prone to do this on occasion). The aircraft then flipped and caught fire.The crashed aircraft was cleared away with a bulldozer and dumped in the Coomalie Creek.


Image courtesy: Imperial War Memorial (CH 10845)

In the mid 2000s the current owner of the airbase, Richard, located a ‘frosted crystal like object, the size of a fist’ (pictured above, image courtesy: Shanahan 2013) at the site of the Gillespie Mosquito accident. Considering the location of the find and the size of the item, Richard asked a geologist to test its lead content. The results of the examination confirmed it was most likely the F–52 camera lens as it contained the expected 7% lead found in lens from the time. Upon further inspections of the crash site and the Coomalie Creek the severely burnt back casing of the F–52 camera was located.

This find not only adds to the ever evolving narrative and living history of the airbase, but it is a physical item that the Gillespie family have been able to connect with (Gillespie’s family are heavily involved with the living history at Coomalie).

If you would like to know more about the site or the F–52 lens please send an email to shanahanparker@gmail.com.


Melissa Dunk

Atherton Chinatown is arguably one of the most thoroughly researched Chinese sites in North Queensland. The strong Chinese presence at Atherton was mainly within the designated area outside of the main township and over time, has not been subject to development. Several archaeological studies have been conducted in the Atherton Chinatown district from 1981 to 2015. The the majority of the collection related to this site were discovered in these excavations, but the collection is also made up of items that have been given back to the museum from the public, object which are presumed to have originally come from the site.



This complete bottle belongs to the Atherton Chinatown assemblage, which contains over 2,000 artefacts and is managed by the National Trust of Queensland.

The bottle’s unique identifier is the embossed Japanese Katakana characters that wrap around the outside of the bottle. These characters triggered my memories of high school Japanese class.

In studying this bottle, I was struggling to work out the bottles use and contents by translating the Japanese Katakana characters. These characters were key as it is a Japanese syllabary for non-Japanese borrowed words. The characters on the bottle were ‘ru-bee nir-ki’ and they didn’t make much sense to me. Was it a person’s name: Ruby Nurkey? Was I reading it wrong?

With a little bit of web assistance, I searched for Japanese bottles and different types of bottles, and my ‘ah hah’ moment hit. If you read the characters from right to left, as Japanese is meant to be read, it transliterates to ‘kirin beeru’.

The bottle likely held beer manufactured by Kirin Beer which was established in Yokohama, Japan in 1885. FOr more information see: http://www.kirinholdings.co.jp/english/company/history/group/01.html.

Compiled by Bronwyn Woff

Historical and Contact Archaeology in North Parramatta

A site currently being excavated in North Parramatta, New South Wales has found evidence of contact between European and local Indigenous peoples in fragments of glass. The excavators have also discovered evidence of leisure and ornamentation of the residents of the previous institutions located on the site.

For more information, please see the following link:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-21/artefacts-show-coexistence-between-aboriginals-and-europeans/8287950




Bronwyn Woff, Research Associate, La Trobe University

The fragment of glass illustrated in the images below was found in the 1988 excavation season of Melbourne's Little Lon district. This area was reported to be a slum, with a mixed use of domestic and light industrial lots.


Crown glass window pane fragment. LL71844 Historical Archaeology Collection, Museums Victoria. Images: Bronwyn Woff

The glass fragment is the central panel of a spun crown glass sheet, which was created in the manufacture of glass for window panes. Hot glass was spun on a pontil rod so that it slowly spread into a large disc up to 1400mm wide. Because of this manufacturing technique, the glass was thicker at the centre than at the edges. The majority of glass imported to Australia from Britain before 1834 was manufactured in this way, as taxes and duties were lower than for other manufacturing techniques (Boow, 1991 pp.100-102). This glass fragment can be dated to between 1788 and the 1860s (Boow, 1991 pp.100-104).

Crown Glass being spun flat by glass makers. Image from “Glass in Architecture and Decoration” by Raymond McGrath & A.C. Frost, 2nd Edition, London, 1961 [1937], p. 75 via : https://blog.mcny.org/2014/11/25/whats-in-an-artifact-crown-glass/    (accessed February 28, 2017.)

In this case, the whole sheet was used and the central section was cut into a pane of glass with the "bulls eye" pontil mark in place. In some cases, these were ground out or otherwise modified so that the pontil mark was not evident, but in this example the snapped off pontil mark protrudes at least 5mm from the flat glass. One straight-cut edge of the window pane is present on the shortest side. Because of the flaw present in the glass, this window pane would have been much cheaper to purchase than a thin, outer fragment and this may reflect the buying power of the owners of the residential property where it was found at Little Lon.

 


"Spectactular clear bullseye glass panes in an English house" via: http://www.peachridgeglass.com/2012/04/the-bulls-eye-glass-pane/  (accessed February 28, 2017)


Bronwyn is currently working as a subcontracting archaeologist, cataloger and analyst. She is contactable via: bronwyn_woff@outlook.com.au
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)