Image of carver pipe

Chesapeake pipe stem fragment with excised, raised cruciform design, ca. 1640

Ongoing Discovery at Flowerdew Hundred

Contributed by Karen K. Shriver, former curator of the Flowerdew Hundred Collection at the University of Virginia. Her research on the salt was recently published in “New Discoveries” in Ceramics in America, 2011.

This Chesapeake terracotta pipe heel stem fragment was recovered at Flowerdew Hundred in the early 1980s, but only recently was it identified as an example made by “The Carver,” a pipemaker or possibly a group of pipemakers, working in the Jamestown area around 1630-1645. In reviewing Flowerdew Hundred’s pipe collection in order to select Chesapeake pipes for display, I noticed an incised heel with an X cut into a raised cruciform pattern--which marks pipes manufactured by “The Carver.” Other tobacco pipes presumably made by the same maker were found at the Kingsmill Tenement site in Williamsburg. Identifying individual pipemakers helps demonstrate pipe distribution trends in the Chesapeake region. It also points to the possibility that a pipemaker operated at Flowerdew Hundred. Analysis of clay samples or pipe making waste from Flowerdew Hundred, similar to examples from Pope’s Fort at Historic St. Mary’s City, Maryland, may lead to further discoveries.

Salt Cellar

Salt, tin-glazed earthenware, ca. 1650-1700

More than three decades ago, archaeologists recovered a small, blue-on-white, tin-glazed earthenware during a random surface survey at Minges Ferry, a site dating from 1650 to 1770, the longest occupation of any site at Flowerdew Hundred. The artifact, called a salt, is a small, footed dish that could be found in well-to-do households when salt was a precious commodity; it is unique among the thousands of ceramic objects found at Flowerdew Hundred.

The salt is hand painted under the glaze in two tones of cobalt blue, with a bird-and-foliage design on the interior; traces of a swag-like motif decorate the flat rim. Its date and origin have yet to be firmly identified despite consultation with delft experts and a wealth of published knowledge. Similar objects provide possible clues--the Flowerdew Hundred salt resembles a London delftware saltcellar that bears the date “1675” and a Chinese porcelain example made for the European market circa 1662-1722.

Salts generally are unusual in colonial American contexts, although archaeologists have found several English delftware examples at other 17th-century sites in nearby James City County, including Kingsmill Tenement, the Joseph Petitt site, and Martin’s Hundred.

Beginning in 1673, Elizabeth and Philip Limbrey owned the portion of Flowerdew Hundred encompassing Minges Ferry. Although we may never definitively know, it is tempting to imagine the Flowerdew Hundred salt, likely made in London between 1650 and 1700, gracing the table of Elizabeth Limbrey.