A few interesting finds

If you recall our 2020 end of year blog, I made a new year’s resolution to ensure that we were updating both our social media accounts and the blog regularly. If you follow our blog and our other accounts, you’ll have realised that I’ve completely failed in fulfilling that resolution for most of the year. It’s been a busy 2021 at Underground Overground so far. We’ve been all over Christchurch and wider Canterbury working on a range of archaeological sites, from early Māori sites to later European sites. We’ve also been busy in the lab analysing and cataloguing artefacts. Today on the blog, we’re going to take a look at some of the interesting historic artefacts we’ve seen so far this year. As with any cool artefact blog that I write, this blog is mostly pretty ceramic vessels because they are my favourite!

Blue and white transfer ware dinner sets: a 10/10 for me. If you were a #1850skid, then you would have grown up with plates like these at the dinner table, oh the memories. Up the top we’ve got the Pekin pattern- a lovely oriental style floral pattern. Down the bottom we’ve got the Bosphorus pattern, which ticks all the boxes of a standard romantic pattern (trees, body of water, oriental/classical/gothic buildings in the background). Both patterns were named for far-away places, suggesting maybe the owner had a bit of #wanderlust going on. We don’t know who made the Pekin plates, but we know the Bosphorus plates were made by James Jamieson and Co., meaning they date from sometime between 1828 and 1855. Image: C. Watson.

This delightful pattern really shows the pain in the horse’s eyes as he realises that his rider is about to shoot the unsuspecting ducks. Transferware patterns that feature animals are some of my favourites, as they never quite get them right. The horse and dogs are just a wee bit too muscular, while the ducks are very well rounded. The pattern is part of the Field Sports series, introduced by Copeland and Garrett in 1846, and continued by their successor, W. T. Copeland, into the 20th century. Image: C. Watson.

Speaking of the pain in someone’s eyes, I can’t tell if this doll is angry, sad, or just a little bit constipated. It’s the Mona Lisa of the 19th century. Image: C. Watson.

At first these jug fragments might not look like much, but when you see the whole picture, you can really appreciate what a cool pattern it is. The pattern is called the India pattern and it was made by Robert Cochran and Co. of the Britannia pottery in Scotland. It depicts a man, possibly the viceroy, riding an elephant. A woman in the crowd gathered around the viceroy holds up her baby to the man. It’s a super cool scene and quite different to what we normally see on transferware. I must admit, I am gutted that only a small piece survived, and that small piece wasn’t the bit that had the elephant on it. Image: C. Watson and Transferware Collectors Club Database.

Now for a brief interlude in the ceramic posts. These Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce bottles are incredibly common, we find them on most sites in Christchurch. On one hand I just enjoyed these four because they were all found in the one feature and were all complete. On another, more theoretical hand (perhaps one holding a thinking hat), I feel like they convey how food represent culture and how the continuing consumption of quintessentially British condiments by 19th century migrants to New Zealand and their descendants, shows a continuation of British culture and customs in a foreign place. If Britain did a Buzzfeed quiz to find out what condiment it was, it’d probably get Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce. Image: C. Watson.

We also found this- which falls into the wonderful artefact category of ‘I have know idea what this thing is, but it looks cool’. It’s moulded milk glass in a terraced shape with a dragon’s head on top. I’ve wondered about a jelly mould- but it does have embossing on the inside (…ARTERLAN…LONDON), which I feel rules out at a jelly mould as you probably wouldn’t want the name of the jelly mould’s manufacturer embossed onto the side of your jelly. No doubt I’ll see something similar some time in the future and go “oh, that’s what that thing was!”. Image: C. Watson.

While we’re on the glass train, did you know that we excavated the site of a 19th century doctors surgery and found heaps of cool medical artefacts? I feel like I’ve been harping on about this site a lot, but it was super cool and the artefacts are still on display at the South Library so definitely do go and check them out if you’re based in Christchurch. And if you’re not based in Christchurch- then listen to the talk that I did on the site for Archaeology Week- we posted it last time on the blog and it’s available here. Image: C. Watson.

Enough with the bottles, back to ceramics! This was one of several similar chambersticks we found in a feature. This feature was chock full of ceramic vessels that we were able to refit to be complete or near complete. When we looked at the artefacts in the feature, we were able to date it to sometime around the late 1880s – 1887 at the earliest. The man who lived at the house died in 1886, and his daughter took over ownership and leased it out. We’re pretty sure that the feature represents the daughter cleaning out her father’s stuff, before she tenanted it. Image: C. Watson.

This artefact photograph is brought to you using the magic of photoshop. As you can see, the bowl is nearly complete, but is missing its base. I photographed it upside down, and then rotated the image to show it the right way up. I really like yellow-ware bowls like these. The decorative style of the bleeding blue wavy lines is called dendritic mocha. These bleeding lines are achieved using a chemical reaction. An alkaline base colour was applied to the vessel (the white band). An acid colour was applied over top of this (the blue). The acid reacted with the alkaline to form tree-like growths (the bleeding of the blue line). #science. Image: C. Watson.

Lucky last, how cute is this wee teacup! The perfect vessel for sipping a nice cup of tea on a cold winter’s night. Image: C. Watson.

Clara Watson



3 thoughts on “A few interesting finds

  1. Hi Clara,
    Thankyou so much for taking the valuable time to piece this blog post so wonderfully together.
    In following down from the top and after reading your notes, may I add my thoughts please on the above?.

    A blue and white transferware dinnerset may well have been used by my great grandfather’s family (JAY, Harry ‘Harvey’, Dunedin ). Born 1935 Woodbridge Suffolk UK. Married St Josephs Dunedin 1863. Love your detailed descriptions, really bring these artifacts to life.

    Yep, I see what you say regarding this type of piece. That man on the horse to me looks about ready for that rifle to fall out of his grasp. He seems bodily disproportionate. Longish legs?, shortish arms. Poor horse. 🙁

    The 19th century smile; “Oh no!, not tripe again!!” 🙂
    Quite an interesting jug, and what a Key Piece that fragment is!. Surely it must have truly been the key to working out ‘which jug/thingy/whatever’ it belonged to. Unique? handle?. I quite like this jug. It has char ak ter.
    Totally agree. Thinking hat a keeper. Nicely peeling back and opening up my own thoughts on what you say. Oh and yes (sea I can spell!) I do agree. What other things come to mind when you wear it?. You have my attention and admiration. Tick. 🙂
    Remembering the names of these various wondrous materials from which thes obs-da-arts are made has often boffled me (I got bored with my spollenge). I am wondering what type/s of artefacts adorn the top of your monitor.
    Looks fascinating!. Thanks for the audio link to your talk. The doctors surgery finds are to me an insite into the life of my mum’s mum’s 2nd husband, as he was a ‘Sunley’ from Wellington, and I believe was also a chemist. There was for a long time a Sunley Pharmacy in Wellingon city. Interestingly it was a Sunley who was a personal friend of Doctor Livingstone. He had a planation in Africa and provided the provisions and carrier task force etc for his expeditions. Also involed in one of I think the ‘unsuccesful’ attempts to find him.
    I have vague recollections of my grandmother having a sabre hanging on her loungeroom wall in the 1940/50 era in Sydney. When Kings Cross was bohemian. She lived in a fascinating olde style hotel overlooking the El Alamein fountain park corner. Back in the good days. I think that ‘go find him!’ attempt was the ‘white’ party.
    What is a chamberstick? This to me conjurs up thoughts of a candle holder?. The conical part to hold an upturned flame~putter~outerer.
    I’d forgotten about the leeching process. Thankyou for explaining the artefact’s making.
    Such a dainty cup. I can smell the scones and jam, intermingling the fragrance of Earl Grey, and the delightful taste of equally dainty treats~on~a~tray. Happily supported with the subtly subdued chatter of the few other early morning guests in the tea house cafe.

    Clara your talk was great. In fact I ended up listening to the whole audio. Fascinating.
    Thankyou to the team and especially you for all you do.

    Kind regards,

    Noel B

  2. The ‘not a jelly mould’ is the right size for a pastry support. is there a wee hole in the top?. My mother had a modern plain one that got plonked in the middle of the pie dish to hold the pastry off the meat filling. Not sure why but suspect it allowed room for the juices to do their thing without oozing through the steam holes.
    I can imagine the delight as the pie was served of uncovering who/what had been baked inside.

    • Hi Graeme, I know what you mean but I think it’s a bit big for that. The pieces we have are only part of the vessel and I think it’s probably a bit bigger and roughly oval in shape. Since writing this blog post I’ve seen some examples of quite elaborate serving dishes made in milk glass that feature all sorts of unusual designs, and I think that’s it’s probably something similar to those. Thanks for your comment 🙂

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