December 23, 2013
This year I participated in a class at Acadia University (Wolfville, NS CANADA) that did a fall archaeological dig at Prescott House. I have been commissioned to do conservation work on some of the finds from this important dig and will document that effort over the next few blog entries. The dig was on a very small area alongside a gravel driveway near the maintenance shed. We know from historical records that there were several outbuildings and our archaeologist/instructor chose an easily accessible area that had some ceramics and metals poking through the ground. One of the hopes was that an outbuilding wall would be found which could prompt additional archaeological digs. We uncovered thousands of pieces of ceramics, bottle and window glass, hand made nails and various other metals, and bricks. And we did find what appears to be a structure's wall which was a combination of brick and stone.
|All 18 pieces of bottle found at Prescott House.|
Tools used: scalpel, toothbrush, magnifying glass
Materials used: distilled water, B72 Restoration Adhesive
Careful washing and brushing of the pieces in distilled water will assist in reconstruction because it will remove loose dirt and other material buildup that would interfere with fitting the pieces together. After careful drying it is best to do a "mock up" of putting the pieces together to determine the correct order. I used very small pieces of scotch tape to hold the pieces together temporarily to see how they look when fitted together. It is best to put some smaller pieces together first and then fit onto larger pieces. Sometimes we actually draw out the shapes and number the actual pieces (using a non-permanent very fine marker) in the order in which they are to be reassembled. This was not necessary in this instance since the 18 pieces were relatively easy to reassemble with only one exception. I had a very small piece with no special markings that I was not able to fit anywhere.
I used a toothbrush to clean up the pieces, a scalpel to carefully remove excess adhesive and test connections, and a magnifying glass to verify connections. By testing connections I mean that I used the scalpel to run along the fitted pieces to mark sure they were as close fitting as possible. There were a few instances were I had to reset pieces so the scalpel was used to careful scrape away any excess adhesive. One of the benefits of the B72 Restoration Adhesive is that it remains tacky for two minutes to allow for minor adjustment of fitting the pieces. It is also reversible by applying heat greater than 100 degrees F. It will not yellow and is relatively non-toxic although should not be used in a confined space and avoid skin contact. It is widely used in conservation work for most materials except leather.
Of particular interest is the embossed lettering on the two narrow sides which have only one letter missing on one and a partial letter on the the other: one can be interpreted as "MOTHER GRAVES" and the other as "WORM EXTERMINATOR". This is a known medicine from the 1880's to early 1920's manufactured by Northrup & Lymon in Toronto and used in the treatment of worms in humans, particularly children. This series of photographs show the reassembled bottle from all sides.
|Reassembled bottle - front|
|Reassembled bottle - back|
|Embossed letters "OTHER GRAVES"|
|Embossed letters "ORM EXTERMINATOR"|
Historical Note and Family Connection
Charles Prescott completed the building of Prescott House, a magnificent Georgian style house in 1815 and proceeded to make a serious contribution to horticulture and specifically the apple industry in the province. He introduced over 100 varieties of apples among other endeavours. But, for me, this has a family connection due to one variety he established called the Bourassa apple. Unfortunately, we have not found any more information beyond the fact it was grown in Quebec from 1750 and up to 1880 when no more information is available. We have not found the family connection yet either but, we will continue to search for it. If anyone has information that would help us locate this apple variety (is it still grown?) or any of its history please leave a comment.