Posted on October 16th, 2013 by Rachel
While going through the boxes of artifacts collected from the 1996 expansions, Carlyn and I have gone through a huge variety of glass and ceramic fragments. Some are very small and plain and it seems like there is not much to be said about them, or some fragments only contain small parts of words or designs that we are unable to decode even if we dig through all the resources available to us on the internet. However, when we find bottles or fragments that can provide a lot of interesting information, it’s very exciting!
Cheesebrough Manufacturing Company, Vaseline jar
One of the types of artifacts that I think are the most interesting is nineteenth century apothecary and medicine bottles. Because at this time it was common to have names of products or other propriety information embossed on the glass bottles themselves (as opposed to using paper labels), the designs and words on the glass bottles often contain a lot of information that can allow us to date the bottles very accurately. A small glass jar embossed with “Cheesebrough Mfc Co” and “Vaseline,” for example, obviously contained Vaseline, but we were able compare the exact design that the words are in and the style of the jar (which would have had a cork closure) to databases of other antique Vaseline jars that have been accurately dated, and we found that this exact jar was probably from the late 1880s.
E. W. Hoyt & Co.’s Rubifoam, “teeth cologne”
Another interesting apothecary bottle we found in our collection was a small flat bottle that would have held E. W. Hoyt & Co.’s Rubifoam (pronounced “ruby-foam;” it was a bright red liquid) for the teeth. This was a “cologne” for the teeth, first introduced in 1887.
My favorite apothecary bottle in the collection is one from the pharmacy of Howard C. Silver, which was just down the street from JMM at the corner of Central Ave. and Fayette St. This bottle was initially difficult to research, since I could not find much information about the pharmacy, but once I tried researching Howard himself, I was able to find loads of information about him and his career in Baltimore. Howard C. Silver was an alumni (class of 1888) of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and apparently operated a pharmacy at N. Central Ave. and E. Fayette St. He is referenced multiple times in “hospital bulletins” from the UMD School of Medicine, which include lists of alumni. He was born in 1861, possibly in West Virginia, and was living in Baltimore by 1910. His wife was Mary M. Silver. He died Oct 22, 1933 of coronary thrombosis at the age of 72. Several memorial funds, fellowships, and scholarships at the School of Medicine exist in his memory or from his donations to the school, including the “Dr. Howard C. Silver Loan Fund” and the “Dr. Howard C. Silver Memorial Student Fellowship in Family Medicine.” It is amazing that a few pieces of a glass bottle found during some construction allow us to find out so much about one man’s life.
bottle fragments from Howard Silver’s pharmacy.
close up of upper fragment
close up of lower right fragment
A blog post from Collections Intern Molly Greenhouse. To read more posts from JMM interns, click here.
Become a member today!
Posted on October 10th, 2013 by Rachel
During the expansion of the Jewish Museum of Maryland in 1996 there were many collected and forgotten artifacts and objects that can from the grounds beneath the land surrounding the museum and synagogues. My fellow Urban Archaeology intern, Molly, and I have been taking a look at these forgotten objects, cataloging, cleaning and photographing them. Most of the materials we handle are different fragments of bottles, various glass, ceramics and metal, as well as some unidentified objects.
Bottle from the Bartholomay Brewing Company.
My favorite finds were the glass beer and soda bottles with embossing on them from various old Baltimore breweries that I dated to 1910 from researching the year of establishment of the name of the brewery. Some names that turned up frequently were the Bauernschmidt Co, American Brewing Co, Global Brewing Co, and Bartholomay Brewing Co. Often, the name would not be embossed, but just a monogram of a letter, and by using various websites we researched what company the particular monogram belonged to. There are also a number of small medicine glass bottles from local pharmacies.
Fragment of a bottle from the Bauernschmidt Brewing Company.
Now that we have successfully assigned accession numbers to every object and added it into our database, and now we have begun the process of washing, labeling and photographing them! Woo!
A blog post by fall collections intern Carlyn Thomas. To read more posts by and about interns, click here.
Posted on July 31st, 2013 by Rachel
A blog post by Archaeology Intern Erin Pruhs. Erin works under the supervision of Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink. To read more posts by Erin and the other interns, click here.
Most people when they think of archaeology may think of Indiana Jones. Although those movies may have made some people more interested in the idea of archaeology, it does not actually show anything close to what archaeologist do. I’m not saying that archaeologists are not trying to fight off grave/site robbers, because that part is pretty true, but I’m more referring to the lack of proper procedures and practices seen.
Image from an excavation at Lloyd Street Synagogue.
The Jewish Museum of Maryland has a surprisingly large collection of archaeological materials from various excavations around the building because of renovations; objects date back to about 100 years ago. Whenever something is built, an archaeological team has to step in and make sure that there is not anything of extreme importance in the ground that they may be building on. The actual procedure is quite timely and may consist of: walking the grounds, filing paperwork, waiting to get approval, digging small test areas, expanding into larger areas, filling out paperwork for everything done, bagging and tagging objects and processing and storing everything in the lab or museum. From there, what the public sees or hears about is a very small portion of what was actually found, and museums tend to only put out the “pretty” objects for display.
There is some good news. The idea of public archaeology is becoming more and more common. Public archaeology is trying to make an effort in making the public more aware of the different projects that happen and hopefully to gain some interest. I have been an archaeologist for a few years now and have gone on various digs and participated in a variety of public archaeological opportunities. What is the hope for the future? For me, it is just to make people have a better understanding of what actually happens in the field of archaeology. Sure, old things in museums are cool, but the question is: how did they get there?