Benjamin Green’s Apothecary

above location^

“What was Benjamin Green’s Apothecary?” I wondered this summer when two very sweet little girls brought me this little glass artifact.

IMG_2025

This glass piece is what we think to be the bottom of a pill bottle from the 1800s. As you can see, the inscription reads “Benjamin Green Apothecary Portsmouth, NH”. The little girls found it on an outing to Smuttynose Island and were so excited to show it to us! So, we did a bit of research to tell us about the artifact, and found a cool blog called “Walk Portsmouth”–check it out! We discovered that the drugstore was opened by Benjamin in the late 1800s and was “one of the most elegantly equipped drug stores east of Boston”, as said by the Portsmouth Herald. A patron who came into the Vaughn museum joked that maybe it was Louis Wagner’s pill bottle. Well, we are not sure about that, but you never know! The apothecary, which was like a drug store, would have sold all sorts of medicinal remedies for ailments. The building was located in the Peirce Block of Portsmouth (which is in Market Square) where a Starbucks currently stands.

 

Pipes – Close, but no cigar

If you have ever seen an old clay pipe, you may (or may not have) been curious about other pipes of the sort, and how they became such a trend in our history. What did some of their decorations mean, and who smoked them? In the film National Treasure, actor Nicholas Cage discovers an old clay pipe with the carving of an intricate ship on the base of the pipe. Spoiler alert…we then discover that also on this pipe is a secret inscription which leads the treasure hunters on another journey to discover the priceless treasures of world history. Now, unfortunately, not all pipes are that exciting and hold the key to invaluable historic artifacts. Sorry to get your hopes up. Though, here on Star Island, we have unearthed many full pipes and even more bits and pieces of pipes that were used by the people who used to live on the islands.

The women and children even smoked pipes out here! A poem from the historic account Gosport Remembered, entitled “A Woman From Star Island. Isles of Shoals, 1844” tells of the pipe-smoking women of the shoals:

“Over the embers she sits,

Close at the edge of the grave,

With her hollow eyes like pits, and her mouth like a sunken cave.

Her short black pipe held tight 

Her withered lips between,

She rocks in the flickering light

Her figure bent and lean…”

To the rest of the world, these little pipe pieces might seem pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But to us lovers of the island history, they are tangible proof of the kind of life that the early Shoalers lived. Needless to say, they are pretty significant in our book. Take a look and see for yourself!

pipes

Check out these cool clay pipes by Dawnmist Studio!

Have you ever seen any cool old pipes? Tell us about it!

Celia’s Parlor

Celia's parlorDo you know what room this is??

This is Celia Thaxter’s parlor! In here, she would do a lot of her writing and painting. Can you find her writing desk? It seems almost hidden amongst all of the lavish decor. And what about the walls? Almost every inch is covered with photographs, paintings, and anything else Celia wanted to display–even works created by her elite New England friends! Can you imagine trying to focus and do work in a room with so much going on around you? I would definitely get distracted. However, it wasn’t just Celia who enjoyed a what we might call “cluttered” work space. In fact, Continue reading

We have an intern! Meet Caitlin.

Hello! My name is Caitlin, and I am the 2013 summer intern for Vaughn Cottage Library and Museum Archives. I have joined the wonderful Star Island community for a summer of fun and intrigue. I recently graduated from Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana with a degree in history. I have a special love for art history, which is perfect, because Celia Thaxter who lived on the island in the 1800s, was an artist. I can’t wait to learn more about her and all of the other interesting people who lived on this island.

IMG_1962

I will be assisting the museum curator by leading some historical tours, facilitating children’s groups, acting as museum docent, and helping with Continue reading