Feature 5 – Dining

The sampling of tableware and teaware recovered from this feature represent patterns and decorative techniques that help to date the deposit. Among the assorted ceramic vessels there are examples from several different matched sets in addition to printed patterns and colored decorations that might have been used together on the table.

Section 8 Feature 5_1 Porcelain
Assortment of Chinese export porcelain vessels, including rouge-de-fer saucer (C-0551, left), matching saucers with husk chain and dogtooth motifs (C-0480 and C-0569, center), and famille rose plate (C-0553, right).

Chinese Export Porcelain

The most surprising finds from Feature 5 consist of four Chinese export porcelain vessels and rim sherds from at least a fifth vessel. The age of these vessels makes this assemblage noteworthy, as their eighteenth-century origins significantly pre-date the first occupation of the property in the mid to late 1840s.

A mendable rouge-de-fer saucer (C-0551) and rim sherds (Cat # 8.58.45) from at least one matching piece constitute the earliest of these porcelain vessels. Characterized by an iron red overglaze enamel and gilding, the motif on these saucers consists of a small floral spray at center, a thin band composed of a zigzag line and dots around the well, and festooning hanging from a band of feathery wavelike elements along the rim. Rouge-de-fer porcelain dates between circa 1710 and 1739, though the style seems to have been most popular during the 1720s. 1

Feature 5 also produced a matching pair of Chinese export porcelain saucers (C-0480 and C-0569) with a simple black overglaze enamel pattern consisting of a small floral spray at center, husk chain motif around the well, and dogtooth motif accenting the rim edge. The husk chain motif typically dates between circa 1765 and 1810, while the dogtooth pattern is most frequently seen on vessels dating between circa 1765 and 1797. 2 The two patterns were regularly used together, as on the Feature 5 saucers, between circa 1765 and 1785, however. 3 In comparison to the more elaborately decorated rouge-de-fer saucer, the dogtooth pattern along the rims of the slightly later black-enameled saucers clearly appears to be a simplified version of the repeating patterns along the rouge-de-fer saucer rims.

This unexpected Chinese export porcelain assemblage also includes a 10-inch famille rose dinner plate (C-0553), featuring a motif focused around a large flower spray at center. The marly of the plate is adorned with a thin gilt band wrapped in an elaborate floral vine. The color palette used on this plate, although heavily faded from deposition in the feature, incorporates an opaque rose-pink, green, and gilt, and is typical of famille rose enamels. Although famille rose porcelain dates between circa 1720 and 1800, famille rose flower sprays were most popular from circa 1740 to 1770. 4

Given that this property was first occupied in the mid to late 1840s, and the rest of the material recovered from Feature 5 seems to relate to the first few families on the property (probably no later than the mid-1850s), the presence of eighteenth-century Chinese export porcelain is certainly surprising. This porcelain assemblage, as a whole, dates between circa 1720 and 1785; therefore, whichever family/occupant owned them and ultimately deposited them in Feature 5 would have done so after a considerable period of curation. The age of the vessels and quality of the porcelain makes their presence in this neighborhood, on this property, and in this feature somewhat of a mystery.

Section 8 Feature 5_2 London Shape
Dipped, banded, London/Grecian shape cups (C-0479, C-0510, C-0555, C-0558) and an entirely undecorated version (C-0557).

London/Grecian Shape Cups

Five nearly complete London (or Grecian) shape whiteware cups were recovered from Feature 5, including four dipped, banded vessels and a rare, entirely undecorated version. All of these small, handle-less cups are approximately the same size, ranging only between 2.5 and 2.75 inches tall, with rim diameters between 4.5 inches and just shy of 5 inches. Two of the dipped cups (C-0510 and C-0555) originate from a set and feature solid, light blue slipped fields, while the other two dipped vessels (C-0479 and C-0558) bear alternating light blue, gray, and very dark brown (typically called “black”) bands of varying widths around their exteriors. The undecorated cup (C-0557) is exceedingly rare, in that whiteware almost always bears some form of color decoration. White granite London shape cups have been occasionally noted, but white granite—which developed in the late 1830s—was harder and thicker than whiteware and had a more brilliant colorless or slightly blue- (or blue/gray-) tinted glaze. The undecorated cup from Feature 5 does not exhibit the typical characteristics of white granite, and thus represents a remarkably rare and seldom seen whiteware variant.

The London shape was the dominant cup form in America from the mid-1820s into the 1840s, when it began to be replaced by double curve shape cups. 5 The combination of gray, blue, and “black” bands on dipped wares seems to have been most popular in the 1850s, and the lack of additional rouletting, slip, or other incised designs on these cups also indicates production after circa 1840. 6 A single body sherd (Cat # 8.56.24) from another dipped London shape cup was also recovered from Feature 5, and bears a solid, light blue field, thin, dark brown bands, and a blue, dark brown, and white cable made with a three-chambered slip cup. Based on the color palette, this cabled cup would probably have been contemporary with the others. These cups were likely produced in the mid-to-late 1840s or early 1850s and discarded by one of the earliest families at 2921 Richmond Street (numbered 335 Richmond Street during this period), including the Schwarz (1846–1851), Staake (1851–1854), or Beck (1854–1886) families.

Section 8 Feature 5_3 Plain White
Undecorated whiteware plate (C-0570) and a paneled white granite teacup (C-0571).

Other Plain White Tablewares

Two other plain white vessels were recovered from Feature 5, including an early white granite teacup (C-0571) and a scalloped, 7-inch whiteware plate (C-0570). The 12-paneled white granite cup features a pedestaled foot, slightly everted rim, and an unidentified, impressed “NS” mark on its base. This cup would have been handled, though its handle is now missing. The style of this particular cup is reminiscent of the earliest white granite, which was characterized by paneled and scalloped motifs and typical of the 1840s and 1850s. 7 Its form also clearly resembles those found in soft paste porcelain, and it was likely designed in an attempt to mimic this earlier bone china.

Given the ware type and form of the 7-inch plate, as with the London shape cup above, one would expect to see some form of color decoration—but once again, there is none. The plate is characterized by a thin body, rounded, free-standing foot ring, and subtly scalloped rim. An impressed mark on its base reads “GRANITE WARE. [in a downward arch] / D.” While the use of the word “GRANITE” in this mark would lead one to believe otherwise, this plate most closely resembles whiteware, not white granite. The rim of this plate can perhaps best be described as falling somewhere between a simplified version of the royal rim pattern frequently seen on creamware plates, and an unimpressed version of the common shell-edged motif seen on pearlware and whiteware plates, though obviously without the usual blue or green decoration. It may be that this plate was produced in the years after royal rim pattern plates ceased production (likely circa 1830 8), but before the introduction of white granite in the late 1830s and the beginning of its popularity, circa 1840. 9 The multitude of printed wares from Feature 5 (discussed next) dating at least partly to the 1830s would support such a production date range for this plate.

Section 8 Feature 5_4 Other Printed
Sampling of printed patterns on tableware, including two different versions of the “Palestine” pattern on a plate (C-0563) and saucer (C-0556), and a “Medina” pattern soup plate (C-0565).

Printed Tablewares

Six nearly complete transfer-printed tableware vessels were recovered from Feature 5, including three 10-inch dinner plates, a smaller 7-inch plate, a soup plate, and a saucer. All of these vessels and numerous other printed sherds bear blue motifs and were imported from England. No other colors of printed wares were recovered from Feature 5. The majority of the printed tableware from Feature 5 can be divided into two groups: those bearing “exotic views” (scenes with depictions of foreign architecture and wildlife, particularly in India and parts of the Middle East) and those bearing the common “blue willow” Chinese-style pattern.

The vessels with exotic view patterns include a dinner plate with the “Palestine” pattern made by William Adams IV & Sons (1829–1861) (C-0563), a saucer with the Palestine pattern by John Ridgway (1830–1841) (C-0556), and a soup plate with the “Medina” pattern by William Ridgway (1830–1854) (C-0565). While none of these patterns quite match (even the Palestine plate and saucer match in pattern name only), the simple blue and white color scheme and the repeated use of palm trees—as well as both classical and Middle Eastern architecture—suggest that they still could have been very easily used on the same table together.

Section 8 Feature 5_5 Willow Ceramics
Assortment of blue willow pattern tableware, including several different plate sizes (C-0477, C-0478, C-0561 and C-0566) and a London/Grecian-shaped cup sherd (Cat # 8.58.11).

The assemblage of blue willow pattern tableware from Feature 5 constitutes two nearly identical dinner plates (C-0477 and C-0478), a single large sherd from a soup plate (C-0561), a smaller 7-inch plate (C-0566), and two body/rim sherds from a London shape cup (Cat # 8.58.11). All of the blue willow vessels from Feature 5 are unmarked—except the 7-inch plate, which features a printed mark for Barker & Till (1846–1850). While the blue willow pattern was first introduced on pearlware vessels around 1790, 10 the various elements of the pattern became so standardized by the mid-nineteenth century (by then on whiteware, like the Feature 5 vessels) that, apart from diameter, these plates are virtually indistinguishable from each other. Upon careful inspection, however, there are numerous very subtle differences between each vessel. These variations are so minute, still, that the Feature 5 blue willow vessels could have been purchased from different sources at different points in time and seamlessly integrated into a set in need of an additional place setting or to replace a broken vessel.

Section 8 Feature 5_6 Spatter Ceramics
Assortment of spatter decorated teaware: saucer (C-0476), cup plates (C-0562; Cat # 8.58.57), and a teapot spout (C-0572).

Spatter Decorated Teaware

Four pieces of refined white teaware were decorated using a technique referred to as “spatter,” which creates a speckled or sponge-like effect. While many English potteries probably adopted the use of spatter decoration on refined whitewares, many of the pieces do not display a manufacturer’s mark, making it difficult to attribute vessels to a specific pottery. 11 The type of spatter decoration seen on the teaware from this feature was likely produced between 1820 and the 1850s. 12

The surviving body fragment of a paneled teapot recovered from this feature shows a decoration of light blue spatter, while the spout was left undecorated (C-0572). A saucer measuring 1.25 inches deep and 6 inches in diameter features a pink spatter band around the rim (C-0476). The saucer was discarded whole and shows no signs of any damage. Two small matching plates, each with a diameter of only 4 inches, are decorated over their entire interior surfaces with a medium blue spatter (C-0562 and Cat # 8.58.57). Although the small size of these plates might indicate they are pieces from a toy tea set, the presence of the full-sized teapot and the deep saucer form suggests a different function. These two vessels may have been cup plates, used to hold teacups and protect tabletops or tablecloths from stains. During the early to mid-nineteenth century, it was customary for people to pour hot beverages from their cup into the saucer and drink it out of the saucer. 13 Ceramic cup plates like the ones recovered from this feature were made in England. Although these four pieces of teaware are decorated in different colors, they may have been used together as a set.

Section 8 Feature 5_7 Sprigged Ceramics
Chelsea Sprig-decorated plate (C-0552) and hollow ware vessel (Cat # 8.58.12).

Chelsea Sprig-Decorated Vessels

Two vessels represent pieces of another partial set of tableware (C-0552, Cat # 8.58.12). Several fragments of white ironstone, featuring small blue sprig decorations around a paneled rim, mended to form a complete plate. The sprig decoration was formed by pressing blue-dyed clay into small molds, then attaching the “sprigs” to the rim of the plate prior to glazing. This style of decoration was referred to as “Chelsea sprig” and became a popular pattern around the mid-nineteenth century. 14 The plate features alternating sprigs of a bird with wings spread over a grape vine and a classical urn flanked on either side but upright cornucopias. The back of the plate is lightly impressed with a partial maker’s mark lettered “PORCELAIN” in an arch over “OPAQUE,” with an indecipherable word beneath. Despite searches of the commonly used references of manufacturer’s marks, at present this plate remains unidentified. A second vessel, probably a teacup, is represented by a single paneled rim and body sherd. Part of the sprig on the cup is missing, but the remaining decoration appears to be a single bunch of grapes without the bird or section of vine. The plate measures 7.25 inches in diameter, suggesting that these pieces might be part of a dessert set rather than a dinner service.

Section 8 Feature 5_8 Best Friend Cup
Small whiteware motto mug printed in red: “Woman the Best Friend of Man” (Cat # 8.58.58).

Motto Mug

The small dimensions of this mug—with a height of only 2.5 inches and rim diameter of 2.8 inches—suggest that it may have been intended for a child (Cat # 8.58.58). Mugs and plates featuring mottos and verses were often given as gifts and used as tableware by young children. This mug features the motto “Woman the Best Friend of Man” printed in red. The color red was used for printing between approximately 1818 and 1880, but reached its peak popularity during the 1830s, specifically between 1829 and 1842. 15 Given the context this mug was recovered from, it is reasonable to believe that it too was produced during this peak period. A belt or garter positioned atop and slightly within a wreath formed of two laurel branches frames the motto. These two objects encircling the motto were selected for their symbolic meaning: the belt is a symbol of dedication, virtue, and strength, while the laurel wreath is a sign of triumph, victory, and eternity. 16 Both symbols support the wording of the motto and the concept of true friendship. The foot ring on the base of the mug shows signs of moderate use wear, suggesting this vessel was used on the table and not merely displayed as home décor.

Section 8 Feature 5_9 Yellowware Plate
Yellowware plate (C-0554).

Unusual Yellowware Plate

A single, nearly complete yellowware plate (C-0554) was also recovered from Feature 5. This supper/dinner plate, 9 inches in diameter, features an undercut foot; a narrow, 1-inch wide marly; and a relatively deep cavetto (though not deep enough for the vessel to be a soup plate). There is a light, scattered, reddish-brown iron speckling across the plate and areas along the edge of the rim, along with small, roughly textured patches on the marly and cavetto, where the glaze doesn’t seem to have taken.

Plates are rarely seen in yellowware, as the ware is traditionally defined, and the most comparable yellowware forms didn’t appear in America until the 1840s. In North America, the first successful production of yellowware occurred in 1828, 17 and the earliest forms advertised in the 1830s consisted entirely of hollowwares, particularly bowls, chamber pots, coffeepots, jugs, and pitchers. 18 Yellowware bakers and nappies—forms similar to plates but with significant differences—frequently appeared in price lists and catalogs as early as the 1840s and 1850s. 19 Bakers feature flat rims like this plate, but are frequently oval, while nappies are characterized by everted, curved rims. Foot rings rarely ever appear on either form, both of which also tend to be much deeper than plates. Pie plates were advertised after 1850, but this form lacks the marly and cavetto seen on the Feature 5 plate. 20

Philadelphia area potters are known to have produced refined, lead-glazed, buff-bodied wares in the early nineteenth century that typically took on a yellow appearance when fired. Known as Philadelphia queensware, these vessels tended to imitate the more delicate creamware and pearlware forms of the period, though were often quite distinct from their imported counterparts in both color and decoration. It is unclear whether these earlier domestic wares eventually transitioned into American yellowware, though the yellowware plate’s resemblance to plain rim creamware plates (albeit made out of yellow clay and somewhat clunkier) and this form’s apparent absence from mid-to-late-nineteenth-century yellowware price lists and catalogs certainly raises questions. The origin (whether imported or domestic) of this plate is uncertain, but given its context in Feature 5, it may represent some of the earlier yellowware in America, likely produced in the 1830s or 1840s, and possibly earlier.

Section 8 Feature 5_10 Tableware Glass
Two views of early pressed glass bowl (G-0858) and a cut wine glass (Cat # 8.58.35; 8.60.19).

Glass Tableware

The glass tableware found in Feature 5 displays the design elements and glassmaking techniques of the late 1830s to early 1850s. Four sherds mend to form approximately three-quarters of a colorless round bowl with a broad, flat bottom and shallow, flared sides—a very popular shape in the mid-nineteenth century (G-0858). Many American factories made this type of bowl, using a mechanical press to produce the shape and decoration simultaneously. The interior of the bowl is smooth, but the outside of the bowl has an alternating vertical pillar and rib pattern. The bottom of the base has rays of varying lengths emanating from two small concentric circles in the center. These pressed designs imitate elements often seen on cut glass of the period, but pressed glass was less expensive to produce—making it a more affordable, yet fashionable option for the dining table. Bowls like this could be used as serving dishes (perhaps for peas, cabbage, or other vegetables) or attached to a stem to form a footed compote. A bowl and matching compote very similar to this artifact are illustrated in Lowell Innes’s Pittsburgh Glass 1797–1891. 21

A cut wine glass, consisting of the majority of the bowl and attached stem, was also recovered from this feature (Cat # 8.58.35, 8.60.19). It represents one of the most common drinking glass styles of the early through mid-nineteenth century. The bowl is funnel shaped, 2.5 inches deep, and cut with 10 oval flutes. The attached stem has a central bladed knop. This type of lead glass stemware was imported from England and also produced in American factories. The slightly elongated bowl and carefully cut flutes make this example particularly elegant.

Section 8 Feature 5_11 Tumblers
Assortment of colorless pressed glass tumblers, some with inset of different base finishes (top left to right: G-0860, G-0853, G-0859; bottom row: G-0856, G-0861, G-0854).


Fragments of nine pressed glass tumblers were identified from this feature (G-0860; G-0853; G-0859; G-0856; G-0861; G-0854; G-0855; G-0863; Cat # 8.98.33). In The Guide to Dating Glass Tableware 1800 to 1940, author Olive R. Jones notes: “Tumbler usage increased as non-alcoholic drinks—such as soda water, water, lemonade, and fruit juices—became the drinks of choice for many consumers.” 22 All of the recovered lead glass tumblers are pressed with arched flutes extending from just below the rims to the bases. There are eight flutes each on eight of the tumblers, and a ninth tumbler appears nearly identical, except it has only seven pressed flutes. Slight variations in dimensions suggest that these tumblers may be pieces from several sets, although they may have been used together on the table. A closer look at the bases shows some were well finished and fire polished, while others feature a thin unfinished ring of glass. These tumblers may have been broken during use or may have been discarded in favor of more fashionable pressed patterns—or following the introduction of the light-weight tumblers available by the 1870s.


  1. Andrew D. Madsen and Carolyn L. White, Chinese Export Porcelains (Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, Inc., 2011), 114.
  2. Madsen and White, Chinese Export Porcelains, 117.
  3. Madsen and White, Chinese Export Porcelains, 117.
  4. Madsen and White, Chinese Export Porcelains, 106–107.
  5. George L. Miller, “Common Staffordshire Cup and Bowl Shapes,” prepared for the Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland website, linked from Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum’s webpage, accessed August 2016, http://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/Post-Colonial%20Ceramics/Cup%20Shapes/Essay%20on%20Cup%20&%20Bowl%20Shapes.pdf.
  6. Donald Carpentier and Jonathan Rickard, “Slip Decoration in the Age of Industrialization,” in Ceramics in America 2001, ed. Robert Hunter (Milwaukee: Chipstone Foundation), 128; Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab, “Dipped Earthenware,” Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland, accessed August 2016, http://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/Post-Colonial%20Ceramics/DiptWares/index-dippedwares.htm.
  7. Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab, “White Granite (aka White Ironstone),” accessed August 2016, http://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/Post-Colonial%20Ceramics/White%20Granite/index-whitegranite.html.
  8. George L. Miller, “Common Standard Creamware Plate Patterns,” prepared for the Diagnostic Artifacts in Maryland website, linked from Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum’s webpage, accessed August 2016, http://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/Post-Colonial%20Ceramics/Cup%20Shapes/Common%20Creamware%20plate%20patterns.pdf.
  9. Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab, “White Granite (aka White Ironstone),” accessed August 2016, http://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/Post-Colonial%20Ceramics/White%20Granite/index-whitegranite.html.
  10. Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab, “Printed Underglaze Earthenware,” accessed August 2016, http://www.jefpat.org/diagnostic/Post-Colonial%20Ceramics/Printed%20Earthenwares/index-PrintedEarthenwares.htm.
  11. Geoffrey A. Godden, Godden’s Guide to Ironstone Stone and Granite Wares (Woodbridge, Suffolk, England: Antique Collector’s Club Ltd., 1988), 172.
  12. Earl F. and Ada F. Robacker, Spatterware and Sponge Hardy Perennials of Ceramics (Cranbury, NJ: A.S. Barnes and Co. Inc., 1978), 32.
  13. Ruth Webb Lee and James H. Rose, American Glass Cup Plates (Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1985 reprinted from 1948), 3.
  14. Ernie and Bev Dieringer, White Ironstone China (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2001), 42.
  15. Patricia M. Samford, “Response to Market: Dating English Underglaze Transfer-Printed Wares,” Historical Archaeology 31(2) (1997): 23.
  16. J.C. Cooper, An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols (London, England: Thames and Hudson Ltd., 1979 reprint 1995), 20, 96, 195.
  17. William C. Ketchum, Jr., American Country Pottery: Yellowware & Spongeware (New York, NY: Alfred Knopf, 1987), 13–14.
  18. Ketchum, American Country Pottery, 31, 33, 38, 41.
  19. Ketchum, American Country Pottery, 32, 36.
  20. Ketchum, American Country Pottery, 35.
  21. Lowell Innes, Pittsburgh Glass 1797–1891: A History and Guide for Collectors (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1976), 236, plate 233.
  22. Olive R. Jones, “A Guide to Dating Glass Tableware: 1800 to 1940,” in Studies in Material Culture Research, ed. Karlis Karklins (California, PA: The Society for Historical Archaeology, 2000), 141.