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.

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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!

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Check out these cool clay pipes by Dawnmist Studio!

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

2012 Archaeology – uncovering this summer’s most exciting artifacts

As we saw in an earlier post, we had some archaeologists with us on Star this summer!  Dr. Nathan Hamilton and Lindsey Weeks were in charge of the digging and they set up an awesome display for us in Vaughn Cottage.  The display is being taken down for the summer, but you’ll still be able to see it- the Portsmouth Public Library is looking for a display, so they will have it there for a few months.

Highlights:

Borderware ca. AD 1490-1650, Star Island, TU-1/ 70-80 cm

Slipware- Sgraffito Type, ca. AD 1650-1740, Star Island, TU-1/ 70-80 cm

French Gun Flint, ca. 19th Century, Star Island, TU-1/ 60-70 cm

Rhenish Grey Stoneware Base- Westerwald Type, ca. AD 1575-1775, Star Island

Brass Ball Head Pin, Star Island, TU-2/ 20-30 cm

Last chance for Under the Isles of Shoals exhibit at Discover Center in Portsmouth!

If you have not yet made it to the Discover Center in Portsmouth, I highly recommend going for the Under the Isles of Shoals exhibit!  I believe it is up until the end of August. It is a truly wonderful exhibit highlighting the exciting artifacts and discoveries they have uncovered at Smuttynose Island over the past five years, directed by Nathan Hamilton. Continue reading