Last revised: 19 Aug 2014
Linked items are from a Georgia Society SAR Educational Outreach CD prepared by Robert F. Towns, Historian General 2013-14
The Georgia Society had an excellent idea of creating and developing a “Traveling Trunk” as a tool for educational presentations. Please click on the Georgia Society Traveling Trunk link to visit their excellent webpage.
- Talking Points
- Item Descriptions
– Item Descriptions –
To assist in your presentation of this trunk of colonial era replica items, the following information is provided. The information is separated into the following categories: male attire, female attire, toys and games, fire making material, kitchen items, other household items and reference books. Based on the amount of time available for your presentation and the type of audience that you are addressing, you can alter your program accordingly. The presenter may have additional items to include in the presentation such as a discussion of any period clothing and accessories worn by the presenter.
Male Attire & Accouterments
Haversack – This cloth or leather pouch was used to carry a variety of items with a hunter or soldier such as food and small clothing items. Pockets were not in popular use.
Wooden Canteen – Some canteens were made from metal. Others were made from wood such as pine. These were less expensive but had to be replaced every 3 to 6 months. It was usually carried by a strap on the left side.
Powder Horns – Larger powder horns carried black gun powder for use in muskets and rifles to project musket balls. Smaller horns carried the finer gun powder used to prime a gun. Wooden plugs were placed at both ends. Maps, designs, family information, or other information was often carved on the exterior of a horn.
Bullet Bag – A small leather pouch used to carry spare musket balls.
Musket Ball – Typically a ball was made of molten lead about the size of a large marble. As shown on the laminated card, a soldier would often carry pre-made cartridges containing a ball and gun powder to speed up his firing time with his musket. A “good” soldier could reload his musket every 15 seconds.
Pistol Ball & Flint – This ball was about the size of a marble and used in English pistols as shown on the laminated card. Pieces of flint attached to pistols and other guns were used to create a spark to ignite the gun powder in a gun. A piece of flint was usually replaced after 15 shots.
“USA” Continental Button – This is the most common type of soldier’s button and was used circa 1775-1783. The regulation Continental Line military coat had about 44 large buttons like this on it. The vest used a smaller button. When out of musket balls these buttons could be melted down and poured into bullet molds to create more bullets.
Signal Whistle – Made of wood or horn, such whistles could be used to signal commands in battle.
Stockings – An extra pair of dry stockings was important to the soldier or man out hunting. Long stockings were worn rather than long pants since it was easier to clean stockings than long pants and less costly to replace one or two worn stockings than a pair of worn pants.
Neck Stock (Black) – Black or white neck stock was worn like a tie is worn today around a man’s collar outside the shirt.
Clay Pipe – Clay pipes were used to smoke tobacco. The stem on the pipe would typically be about 6 inches long. As the end of a pipe became broken or plugged it would be broken off until all that was left was the bowl of the pipe. Even then a hollow reed or stick might be used to replace the clay stem. A tavern pipe might have a stem that was twice as long and broken off with succeeding customers. A variety of designs might be found on the bowl of a pipe.
Ostrich Feather (Black) – Feathers were popular for decorating the hats of men and women. The type of feather on a man’s hat might indicate with which military unit he was serving.
Female Attire & Accouterments
Mob Cap – This simple white cloth cap was worn by women and young girls to keep their long (and dirty) hair in place. As a safety measure it kept hair away from open fires used in the kitchen.
Bonnet Cap – A white bonnet cap might be worn on special occasions and would include some fancy lacework on it.
Straw Hat – This would be worn over top of the mob cap and with a wide brim would be used to block sunshine from reaching the face when working outdoors. Ribbon was usually used to hold the hat in place on the head. Their use eventually spread to using them on special occasions as well when they might be decorated with a variety of ribbon, lace, beads, feathers, or other decorations.
Brise’ Fan – Fans were popular fashion accessories for ladies and gentlemen. The brise’ style fan is wooden sticks held together with ribbon or string. This one is made of sandalwood which was also a popular ingredient in many perfumes. The fan was often used to hide what were likely bad teeth or smallpox marks on the face.
Pockets – Women’s skirts or petticoats did not have pockets in them but they had slits in them to allow reaching inside the skirt. Under the skirt she would wear pockets on a belt made of similar material and tied around the waist. The pockets would hold common household items used throughout the day.
Toys & Games
Cup & Ball – This simple pastime required one to use dexterity and eye-and-hand coordination to toss the ball at the end of a string to land in the cup. This is a simple wood carved example. Wealthy homes might have jewel encrusted varieties.
Nine Pins – Bowling games have been popular since 5,000 B.C. This small version was used to play on the floor. Larger versions were often played in taverns on a long narrow table on which betting was popular. In 1841 Connecticut outlawed the game because of the heavy gambling. To avoid such laws, a tenth pin was added and called Ten Pins. Ten Pin bowling evolved into today’s modem bowling.
Clothespin Doll – An inexpensive small doll could be made with a clothespin and small pieces of cloth. Dolls were also sometimes used to display examples of clothing that could be ordered from Europe rather than using printed catalogs.
Toy Soldiers – Toy soldiers were made individually for hundreds of years, but not until the mid-1700s were small tin soldiers made in large numbers and sold to the general public. This set is made from lead-free pewter.
“Toys & Games from Times Past … ” – This booklet describes many colonial era toys and games. (Some of the examples may make for an interesting class project or a wood making project.)
Slate Boards – Slate boards were generally used in classrooms rather than expensive paper.
Fire Making Material
Tinder Box Candle Holder – This type of candle holder held both a candle and the means to start a fire. Inside the base of the holder would be tinder (dried plant material that caught fire easily), a piece of flint, and a steel striker to create a spark. Both soldiers and civilians used them.
Candle Mold – Candles were made from tallow (animal fat), beeswax, bayberry (wax from bayberry bushes found along the New England coast), or spermaceti (from the heads of sperm whales) and candle molds were a more efficient way of creating candles than dipping wicks. Our mold is used for tall candles and creates four candles at the same time. Other molds would make shorter candles or a different number of candles.
“Makin’ Candles” – [This booklet provides a history of candle making and directions for making them.]
Lantern – Lanterns come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and material. Lanterns were particularly useful outdoors to protect a burning candle from rain and wind. Glass sides were probably expensive. Metal sides with numerous small holes punched in them were often more popular when glass was not available.
Fire Making Kit – The booklet Making Fire with Flint and Steel provides details on starting a fire from scratch. The four elements essential to a kit are flints, a striker, char cloth, and tinder (all included in the kit). Char cloth is used to catch and hold sparks made by striking a steel striker (metal piece) against the edge of a piece of flint stone. The sparks are used to catch tinder such as cedar bark, straw, old rope, or dry plant material on fire which has been placed in a circle around the char cloth. The small fire is then used to start a bigger fire or to light a candle or pipe. Such a kit would be carried in
Tin Plate & Cup – Tin was a common material for tableware especially in less affluent homes. China dinnerware might crack, chip, or break. Tin was more durable. The knives, forks, and spoons might be made from metal or wood. If made from metal, their handles might be made from wood, antlers, or bones.
Sugar Cone – Sugar came in solid cones. It might come wrapped in paper with a wax seal on it proving that the proper tax had been paid on it. It was so valuable that it might be kept under lock and key.
Brick of Tea – Unlike today, tea often came in solid bricks. This made it easier to transport on ships.
Tea Infuser – Once flakes of tea were shaved from a brick of tea they were used to make tea. They might be put in a tea infuser to hold the flakes like we use a tea bag today. In colonial times a tea infuser might be made of bamboo in the shape of a small basket.
Cast Iron Utensils – Large spoons and forks used for cooking were often made of cast iron just like the pots and pans that were in use. These held up well in the hot cooking fires.
Yellow Root – The small branches from this plant were cut into about l-inch pieces and brewed in water to provide a homemade medicine used for a variety of illnesses. It has not been found to be particularly useful under modem research.
Other Household Items
Bone Comb – Bone was a popular item from which to carve a hair comb.
Toothbrush – This bone handled brush used an interesting source for the brush -boar’s bristles.
Playing Cards – Cards have long been a popular game. The Jack, Queen, and King were relevant to the royalty of Europe. Cards were often annotated or drawn to make fun of royalty. To prevent this, the King of England placed a heavy tax on each deck of cards. A seal was placed on the deck to prove that the tax was paid. Even today many decks of cards have a seal placed on the box to show that the cards have not been opened. Note also that printed numbers were not placed on the cards since most people could not read.
Pieces of Eight – The coin called the Spanish Milled Dollar was often used around the world with which to trade. In the American colonies it was used because of the lack of English coins available. Not having other coins with which to make change, the Spanish Milled Dollar was often cut into eight pieces to make change. Thus it was also called a Piece of Eight. Each 1/8th piece was called a bit. Thus two bits were one-fourth of a dollar or a quarter of a dollar which is why a quarter today is still referred to as 2 bits, such as in the phrase, “Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar.”
Continental Currency – From 1775 to 1779, the continental Congress issued $241 million worth of Continental currency in 23 denominations. Each denomination had its own unique emblem on the front. The backs were decorated with nature prints of leaves. Beginning on May 20, 1777, some of the words were changed from “United Colonies” to “United States.” Each denomination included a Latin phrase.
Homemade Soap – Lye soap was made in an iron kettle over an open fire.
Sewing Kit – Includes scissors; spool of artificial sinew; wooden needle case with pins and needles; wooden, bone, and pewter buttons (on two cards); wooden thimble; and heavy cotton thread in a roll-up, canvas bag.
Schweppes Ginger Ale – Date on can shows “Since 1783”, same year as Yorktown.
Parchment Stationery Set – Includes quill pen, ink bottle, and parchment paper.
Scales – This set can be used to show how gold dust could be weighed or pieces of eight might be weighed to ensure that none of the cut edges had been shaved off.
Dunlap Broadside -The Dunlap Broadsides are the first 200 copies of the Declaration of Independence printed on the night of July 4 1776 by John Dunlap of Philadelphia In 1989 only 24 were known to remain in existence. In 1989, a zs” copy was found behind a painting bought at a flea market for $4. It was sold for $8.14 million.
The following books are included in each trunk. Other books may be included from time to time of which only one copy may be available. The books can be used by presenters to develop additional lectures or work with teachers to prepare class or student projects.
Francis Marion and the Legend of the Swamp Fox
The Colonial Cook
Almost Invisible: Black Patriots of the American Revolution
Poor Richard’s Almanack by Benjamin Franklin
The Revolutionary Soldier
For additional information go to the Georgia Society web site at http://www.georgiasocietysar.org and search for the contact information for the current state chairman of the Education Committee.
Acknowledgement and appreciation to:
- Flag Certificate Opportunity