Artifact of the Day

Artifacts of the Day: Window Lead and Sash Weight

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Today’s selection of artifacts of the day come from the Eutaw Manor excavation last spring.  By the way, it’s only 49 days until we return to Eutaw Manor for the Spring 2016 Field Season.  The first artifact (top) is a small piece of turned window lead, also known as lead-came. Such items would have been common for colonial houses such as Eutaw and similar artifacts have been several archaeological sites in Maryland such as at St. Mary’s City.  For many centuries, glass suitable for window panes was severely restricted in size. The only way to create larger window was to piece together small sheets of glass. One way of doing this was to use H-shaped rods of lead called lead-came. Do to the softness of the lead, they are rarely found intact and those pieces that are recovered on archaeological sites are often found twisted or smashed like the one above. Archaeologists get very excited when coming across a window lead because they were often marked with the year of manufacture and the initials of the maker. We haven’t attempted to pry open this piece of window lead yet to see if ours contains a date and a maker’s mark, but in time we hope to get the item properly conserved in order to see if the artifact contains any hidden mysteries.

The second artifact (bottom) is a piece of a window sash weight.   A sash window is made of one or more movable panels, or sashes, that form a frame to hold panes of glass. To facilitate operation, the weight of the glazed panel is usually balanced by a heavy steel, lead, or cast iron sash weight or counter-weight concealed within the window frame. While the window lead likely came from window installed at Eutaw during the colonial period, this window sash weight came from one of the manor’s 19th century windows which was installed after a renovation of the house by the Hall family.

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