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Man on horseback late 19th century

National Anthropological Archives
Collected in China in the late nineteenth century by merchant family of donor's husband. Donated by Mrs. Alice James Pope, July 30, 1979. Transferred from the artifactual collection to the archives, September 1986.

Description based on research by Emily Hoover, summer intern, Department of Anthropology.

Painting on rice paper

A man in colorful garments is seated on a white horse. He is wearing traditional Manchu clothing--brocaded blue pants, a short-waisted yellow jacket, and a red peaked hat with a long green tassle, possibly a feather. He carried a sword in his right hand. The style and elaborateness of his garments indicate that he is a warrior or some other high-ranking government official.

Amulet, China, 19th century

National Museum of American History
One (1) amulet

China, 19th century

Obverse Image: Four Seal characters read top, bottom, right, left.

Obverse Text: [Needs Translation]

Reverse Image: Crescent moon above, sun below, swords and decoration to right, turtle to left.

Reverse Text: N/A

Funnel, early 19th century

National Museum of American History
This tin funnel was made and in use during the early 19th century.

Sycee, China, 19th Century

National Museum of American History
One (1) silver sycee

China, 19th Century

Tea Brick, China, 19th Century

National Museum of American History
One (1) brick of tea

China, 19th Century

Obverse Image: N/A

Obverse Text: ВОΓАУИКО / ВЬІСОКІЍЦЕИЛОНСКІИ / NO. 45

Reverse Image: Half of a star.

Reverse Text: ҨӃ / ВЬІСОК / ЦЕЍЛОНС

19th Century Ice Axe

National Museum of American History

Tool Chest, 19th century

National Museum of American History
Small hand tools used by machinists were kept in a tool chest like this one. Often these tools were personally owned by machinists.

Kanei Tsuho, Japan, 19th century

National Museum of American History
One (1) kanei tsuho coin

Japan, 19th century

Obverse Image: Kanji read top, bottom, right, left.

Obverse Text: Romanization: KAN / EI / TSU / HO (Translation: Currency of the Kanei period).

Reverse Image: N/A

Reverse Text: N/A

General Information: Cast at Namby Province of Mutsu, medium size, small writing at hollow.

Late 19th Century Ice Axe

National Museum of American History

Iron spearhead, Congo, 19th century

National Museum of American History

Scale, United States, 19th Century

National Museum of American History
One (1) scale

United States, 19th Century

Model, Boiler, late 19th century

National Museum of American History
This model represents a boiler patented in the late 19th century by Herbert Wadsworth of Avon, NY. The vertical boiler would have provided steam to the steering engine(s) on a ship. The model was given to the Smithsonian in 1932.

Bone Seam Rubber, 19th Century

National Museum of American History
Seam rubbers were commonly made aboard whaling ships during leisure time. They were used by sail makers to smooth and flatten a seam in heavy sailcloth, so that it could be sewn. The handle of this example was turned on a lathe, and on the handle’s crossbar is a symbol (probably of ownership) in the form of a backwards “L”. The sharp end does not show any signs of wear, indicating that it was probably carved as a toy or souvenir rather than a working utensil in a sail maker’s tool kit.

Overshot Coverlet panel; 19th century

National Museum of American History
This blue & white, cotton and wool, overshot coverlet was executed in a "Rose" pattern. This is one panel of a coverlet which has had the center seam removed either due to use and age or as a result of Colonial Revival repurposing as curtains or portieres. The other half is T11168-A. This section has a center seam, and three finished seams. There is one hemmed edge, and there are two selvedges. The coverlet has a small overall design, sometimes known as Roses.

Manilla, Nigeria, 19th century

National Museum of American History
Manillas were regularly used in exchange in West Africa, especially along the coast of modern-day Nigeria, from at least the fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Cast from various metals, including copper, brass, and iron, they are crescent-shaped and resemble an open bracelet. They were produced by Portuguese, British, Dutch, and French merchants specifically for trade in West Africa. Manillas were used in everyday purchases at markets. They were also a central currency of the transatlantic slave trade.

Shark Vertebrae Cane, 19th Century

National Museum of American History
Scrimshaw was one form of sailors’ art, and cane making was another. This example is made from a series of carefully graduated shark vertebrae threaded over a heavy metal rod, with the biggest vertebrae at the top. The ferrule is silver and the handle is made of carved bone in the shape of an inverted letter “L”, with hash marks cut into the surface to prevent slipping. A thin iron or steel ring separates the handle from the highest vertebra. This would have been an extraordinary conversation piece in the hands of an old or handicapped 19th century sailing ship crewman.

Germany in the 19th Century

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Mid 19th Century Powder Horn

National Museum of American History

Scrimshaw Walrus Tusk, 19th Century

National Museum of American History
This long, highly polished walrus tusk is scrimshawed on one side; the other remains rough and unpolished. At the bottom is a heraldic shield and weapons image with a British flag and a sash with a crown. Above is a mid-19th century bust portrait of a young woman with elaborately coiffed hair, a brooch on a ribbon around her neck and a low-cut fur bodice—possibly an opera singer or stage actress. Above, a circular motif frames an anchor topped with eight stars. The highest image is only a little more than halfway up the long tusk, and it is an unfinished scene of two doves both reaching for the same ribbon. The rest of the tusk is polished but undecorated to the top, which is pierced by a hole for hanging the piece. On the back in small letters is the word “HAZEN”, which might be the name of the scrimshander who carved this tusk.

Scrimshaw began in the late 18th or early 19th century as the art of carving whale bone and ivory aboard whale ships. The crew on whalers had plenty of leisure time between sighting and chasing whales, and the hard parts of whales were readily available on voyages that could last up to four years.

In its simplest form, a tooth was removed from the lower jaw of a sperm whale and the surface was prepared by scraping and sanding until it was smooth. The easiest way to begin an etching was to smooth a print over the tooth, prick the outline of the image with a needle and then “connect-the-dots” once the paper was removed. This allowed even unskilled craftsmen to create fine carvings. Some sailors were skilled enough to etch their drawings freehand. After the lines were finished, they were filled in with lamp black or sometimes colored pigments.

Scrimshaw could be decorative, like simple sperm whale teeth, or they could be useful, as in ivory napkin rings, corset busks (stiffeners), swifts for winding yarn or pie crimpers. The sailor’s hand-carved scrimshaw was then given to loved ones back on shore as souvenirs of the hard and lonely life aboard long and dangerous voyages.

Manilla, West Africa, 19th Century

National Museum of American History
Manillas were regularly used in exchange in West Africa, especially along the coast of modern-day Nigeria, from at least the fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Cast from various metals, including copper, brass, and iron, they are crescent-shaped and resemble an open bracelet. They were produced by Portuguese, British, Dutch, and French merchants specifically for trade in West Africa. Manillas were used in everyday purchases at markets. They were also a central currency of the transatlantic slave trade.

Coverlet; turned twill; 19th century

National Museum of American History
This blue and white, patterned turned twill coverlet is woven in the "Snail Trail," or "Cat Track," pattern with wavy linear border formed from a fractional reduction of the main pattern on all four sides. There are no hems along the top or bottom edges, but both are secured with an overcast binding stitch of natural 2-ply, s-twist z-spun cotton thread. This is the same yarn used in the warp and weft and likely originates from the last shot of the weft. According the accession file, this coverlet was woven in the Rockville, Montgomery County, Maryland area sometime during the nineteenth century. The wool in this coverlet is said to have come from sheep raised on the orginal owners farm.

19th Century Pt. d'Angleterre Lappet

National Museum of American History

Ballot box, late 19th century

National Museum of American History
Political manipulation and election fraud was often compared to a well-oiled machine. Reformers determined to fight political machines with ballot reform and voting machines. The addition of an internal cylinder “roller” to this late nineteenth century ballot box ensured that once a ballot was rolled into the box it could not be tampered with nor seen, two security features missing from previous open-slotted boxes. This box was probably used in New England.

Shark Vertebrae Cane, 19th Century

National Museum of American History
Scrimshaw was one form of sailors’ art, and cane making was another. This example is made from a series of carefully graduated shark vertebrae threaded over a light metal rod, with the biggest vertebrae at the top. The ferrule is wooden and the rounded wooden handle is in the shape of a simplified horse’s hoof. Near the top where the handle begins curving for the user’s handhold, there are some pieces of wood and baleen trimmed on one side to account for the curving handle. The ferrule at the bottom is cracked, and there is some evidence for repairs at a few spots along the shaft, indicating the importance of the cane to its owner(s). The length of this example suggests use by a man.
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