At the Fiske Center Lab we often try to refit sherds of ceramics we suspect might go together. This task can sometimes be frustrating because the sherds we find near one another in the ground at the Sarah Boston Site (and other sites too) don’t necessarily belong to the same vessel. The site was plowed and trampled so much during the late 19th and early 20th centuries that objects were broken up into very small pieces and distributed widely across the hillside, making it difficult to reunite the scattered pieces. But, every once in a while, we get lucky and are able to refit something enough to be able to tell exactly what it was.
Detail of a cabled cat’s eye slip decoration (University of Maryland)
This is the base of a factory slipped tankard or mug with a cabled cat’s eye design. The cat’s eye design was made by using a three-chambered slip cup, which was essentially a tinware chamber that held 3 different colors of slip and dispensed it evenly in tricolored droplets. A trail of these droplets makes what we call a “cable” design (Carpentier and Rickard 2001:126). This kind of design was popular in the first half of the 19th century, after the invention of the three-chambered slip cup in 1811 (Carpentier and Rickard 2001:128), so it would likely have been used by Sarah Boston herself in the last few decades of her residence on Keith Hill. These kinds of vessels would have been widely available for purchase at the local general store. Maybe Sarah got hers at the “Green Store” on the Grafton Common!
Refitting the base of a mug from the Sarah Boston Site
by Heather Law Pezzarossi