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The Phips Site Artifacts

Text is from Robert Bradley, Interim Report on the Archaeology of the Phips Site Through 1999 except where otherwise noted.



Phips Site Tin-enameled wares CERAMICS: DELFTWARE.  This tin-glazed earthenware, inspired by Mediterranean  antecedents, began to be made in Antwerp ca. 1510 and in London after 1613.  Typically, many of the Phips examples are decorated by hand-painted cobalt blue on an off-white or grayish background.  Far less durable than other ceramic types, this ware is represented by plates and bowls, of which the Phips-White Family owned perhaps one or two of each.  According to Dr. Steven Pendery, one of the vessels, which is polychrome decorated, is probably of Italian manufacture, and at least some of the others could be Portuguese. 

Northern Italian slipware CERAMICS: NORTHERN ITALIAN MARBLEIZED SLIPWARE.  Dating from the first quarter of the 17th century, this is a red earthenware with a swirling decorative slip ranging from yellow to green on a dark brown background.  Although made perhaps no later than ca. 1625, this does not suggest that the Phips-White establishment dates that early as well.  Generally thought to have been used primarily or exclusively to make costrels (traveling bottles), one of the Phips sherds is the rim fragment of an open vessel, probably a serving bowl.

Northern Italian sgraffitto CERAMICS: NORTHERN ITALIAN SGRAFFITTO  WARE. This ceramic has an idential body to Northern Italian marbleized slipware. The principle difference is in the decoratation, which is incised (text by E. Baker).

redwares   CERAMICS: PLAIN REDWARE.  This type of ware is the oldest and commonest worldwide, so it is hardly surprising that it predominates on 17th-century Anglo-American sites. Low-fired, lead-glazed earthenware was used for large, purely utilitarian vessels such as cook-pots and food storage jars.  Although this ware began to be manufactured in the American colonies in the 17th century, it is probable that most or all of the Phips pieces were from the West Country of England.  Not surprisingly, three-fourths of the sherds found on the site to date are of this type.

Makers Mark with PE for Phillip Edwards   One of the most important types of artifacts on English colonial sites is clay tobacco pipes.  This due to their durability and the frequency in which they are encountered, coupled with their ability to provide dating evidence.  This evidence is provided by the shape and size of the bowls, the diameter of the bore running through the stem, and the occasional presence of a maker's mark or other distinguishing feature.

Four of the pipe bowls have makers marks on their flat heels, made up of initials.  In one case only the second initial "E" survives, but in two others the mark is complete with the initials "PE" for Philip Edwards I, an English pipemaker of the 1650s and 1660s based in the West Country port of Bristol.  The fourth was illegibly molded.

Phips site pipe bowls   All of the Phips site pipe bowls (with the sole exception of one of an 18th-century type found well to the east of the core of the site) are of the squat, bulbous belly type, small, medium and large, with flat heels and decorative rouletting around the exterior of the rim.  These are typical of the middle third of the 17th century, in keeping with the approximate starting date and the known end date of the Phips-White occupation. 

Phips redware pipes Typical of English sites in 17th-century New England, the Phips site has yielded a small number of pipes made from red clay.  Through 1997 a total of ten such stem fragments and nine  such bowl fragments have been recovered, the former representing just over two percent of the total number of pipe-stems.  The origin of these redware pipes is very much in question.  They seem not to be present on sites in Britain, suggesting their manufacture nearer to Maine.  Geographic distribution hints that they may have been made in Charlestown, Massachusetts.  If so, their lack of maker's marks is no surprise, since their production by a colonial non-member of the English pipe-makers' guild would have made them illegal.

Chesapeake pipes An even smaller number of fragments of another type of redware pipe (two bowl fragments and two stem pieces) have been recovered, and these are not at all typical of New England sites of the period.  They are facetted for decorative purposes and are equivalent to specimens made in the area of 17th-century Chesapeake Bay, an indicator of coastwise trade between the northern and southern colonies from an early period.

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