Thursday, 11 March 2021

First Mudlark of 2021

 Last week I went out mudlarking for the first time in ages. I have one spot that I go to, near me, that is at the mouth of a river where it meets the sea, and then spots along the beach that I know I regularly find stuff at. Mudlarking, if you don't know what it is, is an obscure sort of hobby where people look for things in mud, or in my case, sand. I think of the things I find as little historical treasures, but I suppose they are essentially the rubbish of history. In some cases, literally, as often collected rubbish was dumped on beaches to be taken away by the sea.

I find old pieces of pottery and china, sea glass, bits of old broken bottles, bottle stoppers (glass and vulcanite) and plastic figurines. I've even found what could possibly be a small stone cannonball, but that's a story for another blogpost.

On this mudlark I found 19 pieces of blue and white pottery, 3 pieces of pink transfer ware, one piece with tiny hand-painted gilt detail, one piece of black transfer ware, one piece of a Staffordshire slipware mixing or kitchen bowl, the handle of a brown teapot, a highly detailed piece of brown pottery that probably came from a teapot, two necks of old bottles with corks still in, the top of a clay ink bottle, a glass bottle fragment with embossing on it, two vulcanite bottle stoppers and one glass bottle stopper.

The slipware fragment is terracotta with a mustard yellow glaze with brown decoration in an elongated wave pattern. I'm very excited by this piece as it's only the second piece of Staffordshire slipware I've found, and is probably mid nineteenth century. 

The vulcanite bottle stoppers are mid twentieth century, and can be dated fairly accurately to that as one is 'war grade' style, with the middle hollowed out to save on rubber, and the other has text on it that allows me to research further. 'Vulcanisation' was a process that hardened the rubber to make it stronger.  These stoppers can often be found with a softer red rubber seal still around them that made the bottle stopper airtight. The second vulcanite stopper I found was marked with 'Wm. Murray & Co. Ltd/Craigmillar/Edinburgh'. A quick internet search later and I discover that William Murray & Co. was a brewing company founded in 1880 and closed in 1963. So my little bottle stopper is nearly 60 years old. My glass bottle stopper will be even older, and would have had a cork seal around the glass.

The glass bottle fragment has '...AYLOR/...ERBALIST/...REET/...K' embossed on the side, which probably was a Herbalist, called Taylor, who worked out of an unknown street, and then the town, which would end in K (either Kilmarnock or Greenock?) but I've been unable to find out anything more. 

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