Collecting at the Chancognie House

This fall I had the pleasure of attending the Delaware Antiques Show hosted by the Winterthur Museum.  As I visited different booths I was often asked, “What do you collect?”  This is an excellent question as my collecting mission at the Chancognie House is a bit unusual.  I do not focus on collecting one particular thing, but rather have decided to collect items related to Chancognie and the house he built.  Chancognie left Charleston very much alive, so there is no estate inventory for him here, but there was an ad in the City Gazette when Chancognie offered the property for sale in 1817 that included a list of furnishings and household items for sale, so my plan is to try to acquire items similar to those advertised.

Following in the footsteps of my friend Sarah Stroud Clarke, Archaeologist and Curator of Collections at Drayton Hall, who acquires pieces for the collections based on their archaeological findings, I have also decided to collect pieces based on our archaeological findings here.  At the Delaware Antiques Show, I made my first acquisition for the Chancognie House collection based on an archaeological find – the Yellow Transfer Printed Brown Ware (YPB) jug pictured above.

portobello ware sherd 1

The first sherd of YPB was found during the dig with the Charleston Museum.  Thanks to our hand model, the Museum’s curator of Archaeology, Martha Zierden.

Not much is known about the manufacture of Yellow Printed Brown Ware, also known as Portobello ware, but it appears to have been made in Great Britain during the first and perhaps second decade of the 19th century.  With its distinctive yellow, often Chinoiserie, motifs on brown earthenware bodies, it is easy to identify, yet very unusual on North American sites, which made this a very exciting archaeological find.

The pattern on the pitcher, described as Two Boat Willow (maker unknown) on the Transferware Collectors Club website based on its similarity to a blue and white transferware print pattern with that name, is not an exact match to the sherds that we found here.  Since YPB is so rare however, I decided to acquire a representative piece while I had the opportunity, but will keep looking for an exact match if possible.  This pitcher is actually the second item in the Chancognie House collection – more about the first item in the collection and a third item that I acquired at the Delaware show coming soon!

portobello sherd 03

Since we found the first sherd (on the far right, temporarily taped to a mend), we have found two additional pieces of this vessel.


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