I was grabbing coffee in Morristown, New Jersey this morning when I noticed some ceramic fragments scattered in some freshly-tilled topsoil in front of the Presbyterian Church in Morristown.
Having done a bit of historical archaeology myself, I pay a lot of attention to the debris underfoot. Wherever I go, I pay attention to building material, ephemera and trash. So the ceramic sherds sitting atop the garden soil in the church’s garden caught my attention — particularly the piece with a partial maker’s mark. I snapped a photo with my phone and started digging around online during my lunch break.
According to one resource, the piece was manufactured by Powell & Bishop, which made ironstone china in England between 1867-1878.
Context is important when dating artifacts, though, and I don’t think you can ask for too much here. It was pretty obvious to me that the garden had been freshly tilled with fill soil, which could have come from somewhere on the church’s grounds (it dates back to 1733) or anywhere in the Morristown area, really (George Washington hung out here!). The most likely scenario is the plate got mixed in with some construction debris and ended up on the church’s front lawn.