by Bernard K. Means, Director of the Virtual Curation Laboratory
Today’s animation is a white clay tobacco pipe stem that has been drilled to function as a flute. It was scanned at the New York State Museum (NYSM) in July 2014. The NYSM’s Susan Winchell-Sweeney provides us with the following information:
Believed to be 50% complete and made circa 1715. It was one of several objects recovered from the fill of
an 18th-c. red brick cistern on Lot 14 of the Broad Financial Center site.This site was situated on the block
bounded by Whitehall, Pearl, Bridge, and Broad streets in lower Manhattan, NY, and was excavated in 1983-
84 under the direction of Dr. Joel Grossman of Greenhouse Consultants, Inc. for HRO International. This site
was located on the original 17th century island of Manhattan as opposed to landfill or man-made land.
Excavation revealed deposits and features dating from the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam through the
mid-19th century. There are materials associated with the c. 1650 warehouse of Augustine Heermans, a
slave trader and tobacco merchant (including a Dutch token dating 1590-the oldest European artifact
excavated in New York) and domestic deposits from 17th and early 18th century inhabitants of the block.
Artifacts include domestic items from the privy of Dr. Hans Kierstede (the first doctor of the Dutch West
India Company) and his wife Sarah, who was Peter Stuyvesant’s Native American interpreter; a c. 1680
basket filled with Native American and European goods including delft tiles, hand-wrought nails, wampum,
glass trade beads, thimbles and pins, 17 marbles of various sizes and a wooden game board. English
Colonial artifacts include 7,000 fragments of 17th and 18th century clay tobacco pipes made at the Robert
Tippet shop in Bristol, England, and probably shipped to a local tavern on the block, a sword guard, candle
snuffer, candlestick holder, and a delft posset pot. Many other domestic materials date to Federalist and
Jacksonian New York.