Contact | Join | Shop

Search PHM Site

  Home > Collections & Exhibitions > 17th Century Personal & Household Items

17th Century Personal & Household Items
Click any image to see a larger version.

Myles Standish Razor & Case
Material: Steel, horn, brass and pasteboard
Probably made in Toledo, Spain, 1612
Found at the site of the Myles Standish house, Duxbury, MA

The razor was probably made in Toledo, Spain, a center of steel manufacture in the 17th century. The razor is dated 1612 on the blade and probably came on the Mayflower. The case itself is made of pasteboard, painted and stamped to look like leather.


Spectacles with case
Material: Glass, horn, wood and leather, 1600-1700
Probably made in England

The frames of these armless spectacles are horn, which has been wrapped in leather. The case is pine.


Constance Hopkin's Beaver Hat
Made in England, 1615-1640
Ownership attributed to Constance Hopkins

Steeple-crowned hats, usually with a decorative band, were popular in Western Europe for both men and women in the early 17th century. Beaver fur, imported from the colonies, was processed into felt to make hats.

Back to Biographical Information, Wills, Inventories


Penelope Pelham Winslow's Embroidered Silk Shoe
Made in England or France, c1650
Material: Pigskin, silk and galoon  (silk-covered thread)

Thought to have been worn by Penelope Pelham at her wedding to Josiah Winslow in 1651.

Back to Biographical Information, Wills, Inventories


Loara Standish Sampler
Made by Loara Standish
Material : Linen with silk embroidery
Made in Duxbury, MA, c1653
Descended in the Standish and Alden families

Loara Standish, daughter of Captain Myles Standish, is thought to have made this sampler in her teens. It is the earliest known American-made sampler and the earliest known sampler with a verse.

Samplers of the 16th to mid 18th centuries served as permanent records of stitches and designs, intended for reference, unlike later samplers that were planned for display. American samplers followed the British form, as instruction in needlework passed from mother to daughter.

Typically, Loara Standish’s sampler is long and narrow (measuring approximately 7 1/4" wide x 23 1/2" tall) with patterns arranged in horizontal bands. Stitches, worked in counted thread embroidery on very fine 50-count linen, include Montenegrin cross, long-armed cross, back, outline, eyelet, double running and arrow-head. The rose, carnation, oak leaf and an intertwined "S" are among the stylized floral motifs above the verse:

"Loara Standish is my name
Lorde guide my hart that
I may doe thy will also
My hands with such
Convenient skill as may
Conduce to virtue void of
Shame and I will give
The glory to thy name"

Top Detail | Verse Detail


Myles Standish's Cooking Pot
Material: Cast iron
Made in England, 1600-1650
Descended in the Standish family

A cooking pot was among the most practical things a family could bring on the Mayflower. Pots were used to make pottage, a staple of English diet similar to stew, made with meat and vegetables.


Edward Winslow's Mortar and Pestle
Material: Bronze
Made in England, 1600-1650
Descended in the family of Edward Winslow

This mortar was probably used for grinding herbs for medicinal or cooking purposes.


Burl Bowl
Material : Burl maple
Possibly Wampanoag, 1630-1750

Bowls such as this one were used for preparing and serving food. Burlwood bowls are exceptionally strong, as they don’t crack along the grain.


Lobed Delft Dish with a Swan
Made in Delft, Holland, c1690
Material: Tin-glazed earthenware

As the 17th century progressed and the colony became more established, the emphasis was no longer merely on survival and utility. Richer, more luxurious and very colorful items such as this lobed dish reflect the improving economic situation.

This dish represents a form first turned on a potter’s wheel, then molded in a two-part mold. These dishes, filled with water for rinsing hands, played an important part in table manners before forks came into general use. Delftware lobed dishes also functioned as serving plates.


The Standish Family's Lobed Delft Dish with Tulips
Made in Delft, Holland, c1680-1700
Material: Tin-glazed earthenware
Descended in the Standish Family

Dishes such as this were first turned on a potter’s wheel and then molded in a two-part mold. Lobed dishes were used as serving dishes, or as bowls filled with scented water to rinse the hands (a necessity, before forks were common!).


Blown Glass Bottles
Made in England, 1690-1750

Bottles of this type most commonly held spirits, which the colonists considered to be healthier than water. Bottles were sealed with corks, held in place with thread or wire secured beneath the "string rim" at the top of the bottle.


Allerton-Cushman Families' Wooden Cup
Artifacts with Pilgrim provenance turn up rarely. When such an object is offered to the museum, it is indeed cause for celebration!

In 1998, the family of the late Mercy Ramsey Carl of Texas presented Pilgrim Hall with a carved wooden cup which was handed down in their family, according to tradition, back to the Allerton family.

The cup is made of walnut, turned on a lathe and carved with this verse:
Lord help thy people that are in Destresse:
teach all true Christians for to help each other:
turne + the hard hart's that Doth the poore opresse:
teach them to know their needy Christian Brother:
Think on+the ritch mans flourishing estate:
Which cried out in hell+Blessed are the mercyfull+Wh-t was to late.

The date "1608" is carved on the bottom of the bowl. According to decorative arts historian David Bostwick, the cup is a wassail dipper cup, similar in concept to the modern glass cups which come with a punch bowl. Communal drinking of spiced wines and caudles (wine or beer mixed with egg, similar to egg nog) was a large part of the hospitality in the 17th century. The cup would have been kept on a sideboard or cupboard and used on special occasions.

According to family tradition, the cup was passed down the female line to daughters named Mercy. The earliest Mercy thought to have owned the cup is Mercy Soule Cushman (b. 1741) of Middleboro, Massachusetts. Mercy descended from such Firstcomers as John Faunce, Patience Morton and Alice Carpenter Southworth Bradford. Her husband Noah Cushman descended from Mary Allerton, Thomas Cushman, Robert Bartlett and Mary Warren. It is very difficult to authenticate a "Pilgrim" object. Small wooden cups seldom show up in documents like probate inventories but, in 1633, Mary Ring left a "footed cup" to her neighbor Elizabeth Warren. Elizabeth's daughter married Robert Bartlett, and Noah Cushman was one of their descendants. This cup just might have been Mary Ring's "footed cup."


Peter Brown's Wooden Beer Tankard
Material: Oak, birch
Made in England or the Baltics, c1620
Descended in the family of Mayflower passenger Peter Brown

This 10" tall beer tankard is fashioned like a barrel and was probably made by a cooper, or barrel-maker. The tankard is made of oak staves fastened by birch hoops.


The Howland Family Teapot
Material: Tin-glazed earthenware
Made in the pottery of Adrianus Kocks, Delft, Holland, 1686-1701

When the Howland family of Plymouth began using this teapot around 1690, tea was a new beverage in the colonies! The design and form of the teapot imitate popular blue and white porcelain, imported from China.


The Fuller Family Salt Dish
Material: Tin-glazed earthenware
Made in England, c1650
Descended in the family of Mayflower passenger Edward Fuller

Salt was a very important condiment in the 17th century, used not only for flavoring but also for preserving food. Salt was usually served in a single dish near the head of the table. This salt has scroll knobs on top so that, after the meat course was removed, a dish for fruit could be placed over the salt.


William Bradford's Silver Wine Cup
Material: Silver
Made in London, England, in 1634
Owned by Mayflower passenger William Bradford

A silver drinking cup owned by William Bradford, Mayflower passenger, second Governor of Plymouth Colony, and author of Of Plymouth Plantation. The goblet is 7" high with the governor's initials ‘W.B.’ on one side below the lip. The hallmarked silver cup was handmade in London in 1634. The Governor Bradford Cup is now jointly owned and exhibited by Pilgrim Hall Museum and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.


Myles Standish's Charger (Large plate)
Made in England, 1640-1660
Material: Pewter
Touchmark "ED." Possibly Erasmus Dole of Bristol
Ownership attributed to Myles Standish

Chargers were common in 17th century households, often displayed on top of cupboards. Pewter was easy to work and less expensive than silver. Pewter often bore "touchmarks" in imitation of the hallmarks found on silver.


The Warren Family Porringer
Material: Tin-glazed earthenware
London, 1680-1700
Descended in the Warren Family of Plymouth

Porringers were used for eating cereals and stews. Blue dishes such as this one imitated French pottery, which in turn imitated Chinese pottery! Tin glaze stained with cobalt creates the blue background, while white tin glaze was spattered to create the pattern. Click here for Vertical View


Henry Howland's Bowl
Material: Tin-glazed earthenware
England, c1700
Ownership attributed to Henry Howland

The purple manganese decoration was applied with both sponges and brushes. The "dashes" on the rim relate this bowl to "blue dash" chargers made at Lambeth, England.


Joseph Bartlett's Fire Back
Material: Iron, dated 1660
Attributed to the Saugus (Massachusetts) Ironworks
Descended in the Bartlett family

Iron backs, known today as fire backs, were set at the rear of hearths to protect the bricks from heat damage and reflect heat into the room. Iron backs were made by pressing a carved wooden pattern into sand, then pouring the molten iron into the depression.

This iron back came from the house of Joseph Bartlett in Manomet (South Plymouth). The house was built in 1660, the year of Bartlett's marriage.


William White's Writing Cabinet
Material: Pine with mother of pearl inlay and iron hinges
According to tradition, this cabinet was brought on the Mayflower in 1620 by Pilgrim William White

Writing materials and valuables were stored in cabinets. Craftsmen often used black paint to imitate fashionable (and expensive) lacquer work. The front center drawers, as well as the door over the front, are missing.


Wrestling Brewster's Rushlight Holder
Material: Pine base with wrought iron clip
Made in New England, from the home of Wrestling Brewster

Rushlights were the simplest and least expensive kind of lighting device. They were made from common meadow rushes which grew in the marshes. The outer skin of the rush was peeled away and the remaining pith was dried and then dipped in hot fat. After drying, the rush was placed in the jaws of the rushlight clip to burn.

This particular rushlight holder also has a candle socket (on the left side in the picture), both to balance the rushlight clip and to serve, occasionally, as an additional lighting device.


Thomas Cushman's Claw Hammer
Material : Iron
Made in England, c1625

Ownership attributed to Thomas Cushman

Home | About Us | Visit Us | Collections & Exhibitions | Education | About the Pilgrims | Beyond the Pilgrim Story | Thanksgiving
Museum Events | Shop | Join | Donate | Sponsors | Links | News Room | Contact Us

Pilgrim Hall Museum
75 Court St, Plymouth, MA 02360 | Phone (508) 746-1620