Wednesday March, 21st 2007 Privy Dig
Well Its a new year And we have been digging almost weekly with only a few decent finds to show for. But today we started out at the usual 10:00am with a drive around fells point. From there to Jonestown and then downtown. After no luck there we headed over to the west side and tested a few barrels that probed very empty. So I suggested we try an area in south Baltimore we haven't been to in awhile. So off we went as soon as we arrived we saw a recently boarded up house that would have been built in the mid 1840s. We parked and walked up the alley to the back yard and I quickly probed out a privy in the back corner. Then I probed down the property line and found another privy closer in to the house. The decision was made to dig the closer in one sense these tend to be older pits and the one in the back corner had a large bush growing out of it. About two feet in we found a water pipe ruining through the top of the pit luckily it was near the edge. This pit turned out to be a square brick liner. However the wall along the property line was wood rater then brick so I probed through it and said its actually a large rectangular brick liner shared with the house next door with a wooden divider wall in the middle. I haven't dug many of these dived brick trench privies. But the ones I have dug have been pretty good. So I had high hopes for this one. So we continued digging at about the 3 foot level we hit water and lots of it. So a small sump hole was dug down about another foot and we bailed out the water. Then dug down to that level. At about the 4 foot level we started to get some of the trash layer in the corners and the age was looking like 1870s. That's a good sign if this layer is a few feet think we should get some pontils on the bottom. Well we dug another sump down one corner about two feet and hit bottom. But there were a few pontiled bases and some good looking ceramics coming out. Then we proceeded to bail the rest of the pit to the bottom. Doug finished clearing half of the pit to the bottom. He found a couple Dr. Stonebrakers Rat Killer Poisons from Baltimore and several early smooth based druggists and a few pontiled puffs. We decided to leave the wood divider in place until we finished this side of the pit and try to dig out the layer of the neighbors side from the bottom. Then I got in to finish my the other half of this side of the pit. I was going through the layer not finding much but a few puffs. Until the last corner I found a nice open pontiled scroll flask and a green iron pontiled Wm. Russell Baltimore pontiled soda. Then a P. Babb Baltimore iron pontiled soda but sadly the top was missing. I finished cleaning out the bottom of this side of the privy At about 6 feet deep and I could see the bottom of a bottle partially sticking under the wooden diver wall. I pulled out the divider and handed up the fairly intact 1840s boards to Doug. And reached down and used my screwdriver to dig loose the bottle which I thought to be just a plain kick up base ale or wine. After I worked the bottle free I was surprised to see it was a nice iron pontiled porter. I started wiping off the mud from this early bottle and was shocked to reveal embossing. This bottle was embossed F. & L. Schaum Baltimore Glassworks in a nice deep yellow green color with iron pontil This is one of the bottles I've really wanted to dig for along time. I've found pieces of them only a few times. It had some lip chipping which didn't bother me one bit. After that I let Doug get back in the pit and work on tunneling the neighbors side of the pit. He found a few more pontiled puffs and a nice large iron pontiled quart porter in a dark yellow green. Along with a rare McKay * Baltimore iron pontiled soda and another P. Babb Iron pontiled soda this time perfect with the top intact. Finally he found a dark green W. Coughlan Baltimore pontiled soda with its top missing and then the pit was finished. We found quite a few great pontiled bottles in this pit. and it was a fun dig.
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