Several weeks ago, staff from George Washington’s Ferry Farm went hunting for objects to go into the reconstructed Washington house, which will be fully furnished with reproduction pieces to allow our visitors to sit on the chairs, open drawers, and pick up the plates on the table. Finding accurate, well-made reproductions of pieces from the Washington-era is no small feat but staff members have traveled to a variety of flea markets and consignment shops on the hunt for 20th century Colonial Revival objects that will pass as 18th century. Here are a few photos from one of these trips…
On a warm day in September, our intrepid band of archaeology and curatorial staff members set out into Virginia’s Northern Neck to hunt down modern stand-ins for the 18th century ceramics and glassware that were once used by the Washingtons at Ferry Farm. This is just one of the many flea markets and consignment shops that we visited that day.
A porcelain chamberstick, probably made in the 1970s or 1980s to mimic a colonial style. The decoration on this one is what really caught our eye – the blue and orange-red enamel with gilt highlights is known as the “Imari” palette and was often found on Chinese Export Porcelain teawares in the Washingtons’ time.
Ceramics and Glass Specialist Mara Kaktins examines some glass candlesticks for historical accuracy.
A baluster-stem wine goblet, perhaps from the 1930s, that is a pretty good approximation of a similar 18th century wine glass found archaeologically at Ferry Farm.
“Guys, whaddya think??”
A serving dish decorated in a great 20th century approximation of the rare “famille vert” palette found on very early 18th century Chinese Export Porcelain teawares. These dishes were made for Lord & Taylor in the 1980s.
A 20th century earthenware jug decorated in great Westerwald style. We found this one in a shop that specializes in Asian antiques. Go figure!
Did they have umbrellas in the 18th century?
A perfect example of a reproduction redware pitcher!
Archaeology Lab Technician Elyse Adams, Curator Meghan Budinger and Archaeology Lab Supervisor Melanie Marquis tally our haul at the Animal Welfare League thrift shop. Great repros for a great cause!
Another dish made for Lord & Taylor, this time in the “Imari” palette. Interestingly, we found 3 of these Lord & Taylor dishes at 3 different stores – clearly, we were meant to have them.
Bonus to shopping at thrift stores: there’s usually a friendly pooch or two around! Mara says hi to this store dog while holding two very nice 20th century tea bowls that will easily pass for the 18th century version once we remove some of the exterior decoration.
To learn more about the reconstructed Washington house furnishing effort, you might wish to read these blog posts…