Artifact Discovery Worksheet

Artifact Wish List


  • Spiked Tomahawk

    Spiked Tomahawk

    Date: 1750-1800

    Origin: European, Native American, and possibly American

    Materials: Iron, Wood

    Dimensions: 11 3/8” High x 5 1/4” Long x 5/8” Wide

    Gift of Dr. J. Fred Olive III, Alabama Society

    Spiked tomahawks were a uniquely shaped weapon and tool that were probably introduced to North America by English traders. They were most popular around the years 1725 to 1800 across the region that consists of the modern-day states from New York to Maine and southeast Canada. Native Americans in this region are known to have favored spiked tomahawks and a Native individual may have used and decorated this one. Although Native Americans, Europeans, and colonists used tomahawks or hatchets as tools, it was Native Americans who adapted the tool to become a fierce weapon. The result was a style of fighting that was unique to North America in the 18th century. The tomahawk became an important ceremonial, cultural, and diplomatic symbol for Natives, Europeans, and Americans. The impact of this style of fighting developed by Native Americans can be seen throughout the era of the American Revolution.

  • Quadrant


    Date: 1770-1775

    Origin: Liverpool, England, Great Britain

    Materials: Wood, Brass, Ivory, Glass

    Dimensions: 17 1/2” High x 13 3/4” Wide x 3 1/2” Deep

    Gift of the Sacramento Chapter SAR

    Knowing a ship’s latitude is very important to keeping it on course to its destination. This measurement allowed sailors to know their location even when they had not seen land for days or even weeks. A quadrant helps a sailor measure the height of the sun from the horizon by measuring the angle. With this information, the sailor could then calculate the ship’s distance from the equator, or latitude. The name quadrant comes from the fact that this tool can measure up to 90 degrees, or 1/4 of a circle, leading to the use of “quad” which means “four”. Sailing the Atlantic Ocean in the 18th century was always a risk. The better a ship could stay on course and keep track of its location, the faster the voyage. A faster voyage meant less risk of running into bad weather, less risk of running out of supplies, and less risk of falling into enemy hands. Staying on course could mean victory or defeat at sea during the American Revolution.
  • Wagon-Jack


    Date: 1780s-1790s

    Origin: Probably America

    Materials: Wood, Iron

    Dimensions: 24 3/8” High x 7 7/8” Wide x 9 1/4” Deep

    Gift of N.S.C.A.R. in Celebration of their 125th Anniversary

    An army on the march during the American Revolution could not carry all the supplies and equipment it needed. Hundreds of wagons full of food, cookware, and tents would follow behind the marching army. Along with those wagons there were also cannons on carriages that had to travel with the troops. A jack such as this one was a necessary piece of equipment to have in case a wheel, axel, or hub on a wagon or carriage broke and needed to be fixed or replaced. It functions much like jacks found in many mechanic’s shops today.
  • Tinned-Iron Brazier

    Tinned-Iron Brazier

    Date: 1750-1800

    Origin: Probably American

    Materials: Tinned-Iron, Wood

    Dimensions: 16 1/4” Long x 10 1/8” Wide x 7 1/2" High

    Gift of C. Bruce Pickette, Alabama Society

    A brazier is a portable container used to burn wood or charcoal to produce heat. The heat of braziers was used to warm a room, heat wig curling irons, and cooking. The three flat surfaces around the rim of this brazier could serve as a pot or pan holders when it was used to cook. Braziers were made in many shapes and out of several materials at the time of the American Revolution. This tinned-iron brazier weighs less than those made of wrought or cast iron. Tinned iron is made by coating thin sheets of iron with a layer of tin to prevent rusting. The use of light weight tinned iron would have made this brazier perfect for a traveling army.
  • Pattern 1742 "Brown Bess" Infantry Musket

    Pattern 1742 "Brown Bess" Infantry Musket

    Date: 1742-1800

    Origin: Britain and America

    Materials: Wood, Iron, Steel, and Brass

    Dimensions: 61 7/8” Long x 8 1/2" High x 2 7/8” Wide

    “Brown Bess” was the name British soldiers gave to the muskets they used during the 18th century to refer to it as their friend or companion. This one was likely sent to North America before or during the French and Indian War and may have been used by British soldiers or their American allies during that war. By the time of the American Revolution, this pattern of “Brown Bess” was outdated, and British troops carried newer ones. The Continental Army and militias did not have enough muskets to fight with, so they had to use older firearms left over from the French and Indian War like this one. Some of its parts were replaced with ones made during or after the American Revolution and the barrel was shortened. These changes point to this “Brown Bess” being used by American soldiers during the American Revolution and perhaps during the War of 1812.
  • Pair of Ice Creepers

    Pair of Ice Creepers

    Date: 1750-1800

    Origin: Probably Colonial American or American

    Materials: Iron

    Dimensions: 8” Long x 4” High x 4 1/2” Wide

    Gift of Susan and Larry Crabtree, Alabama Society

    Due to the lack of travelable roads in the colonies and early United States, rivers and streams offered the best options for travel. In those areas where temperatures got low enough for waterways to freeze enough for people and animals to walk on, residents and soldiers would wear ice creepers to traverse “frozen roads”. Accounts from Revolutionary War soldiers describe how they would wear ice creepers on the bottom of their shoes or boots in order to walk up or down a frozen waterway. They would often lead a horse or mule that was pulling a sled packed with supplies. A frozen river presented a great opportunity to transport supplies up or down the waterway to fortifications located along the riverbank. These forts then protected boat routes on the river during warmer weather. Ice creepers were also used in towns and villages when the ground was frozen, slushy, or snow covered.
  • Spontoon Bearing the Cypher of Landgrave Frederick II of Hesse-Cassel

    Spontoon Bearing the Cypher of Landgrave Frederick II of Hesse-Cassel

    Date: 1760-1785

    Origin: Europe

    Materials: Iron

    Dimensions: 75” Long x 5” Wide x 1 1/4” Deep

    Gift of PG Joseph W. Dooley, Virginia Society; Bruce Buehler, Alabama Society; John Bredenfoerder, Ohio Society; Dr. Darryl Addington, Tennessee Society

    The British Army did not have enough soldiers to send to North America in response to the American Revolution. King George III of Great Britain asked his German cousin Frederick II of Hesse-Cassel and other German leaders to lend soldiers to the British Army. Frederick II sent more than 20,000 soldiers to fight with the British. These German soldiers came to be known as “Hessians” and many Americans feared them. This spontoon bears the cypher “FL” for Frederick Landgrave on both sides and would have been carried by an officer to show their rank. Spontoons such as this one were more like a piece of the uniform but could serve as a weapon if need be. It is not clear if this spontoon was carried during the American Revolution, but it certainly could have been found in a “Hessian” officer’s hands. German soldiers were recognized for their excellence during the war. Many chose to stay in the United States and start a new life after the war rather than return to Germany.
  • French Model 1766 Cavalry Pistol

    French Model 1766 Cavalry Pistol

    Date: 1766-1770s

    Origin: France

    Materials: Wood, Iron, Steel, Brass

    Dimensions: 15 3/4” Long x 6” H x 2 1/2” Wide; Barrel: 9” Long

    Gift of PG Joseph W. Dooley, Virginia Society; Dr. M. Kent Gregory, California Society; and James Klingler, California Society

    Beginning in 1777, France began secretly sending military supplies to the Continental Army. The French saw an opportunity in the American Revolution to undermine their old enemy, the British. In 1778, France and the United States signed a treaty and the French Army and Navy entered the war. French aid through supplies and military force would prove important to the successful founding of the United States. Among the supplies France sent to the Continental Army were many Model 1766 Cavalry Pistols just like this one. Brass was far more expensive than iron and was typically only used on weapons for the cavalry, navy, and officers. Brass is not only eye-catching, but it also the added benefit that it does not rust. This pistol was probably not used in the American Revolution but remained in storage. This explains why it is in such good condition and shows how it would have looked to soldiers at the time.
  • Spanish 8 Reales "Piece of Eight"

    Spanish 8 Reales "Piece of Eight"

    Date: 1755

    Origin: Lima, Peru and South America

    Materials: Silver

    Dimensions: 1 1/2” Diameter x 3/32” Deep

    Gift of Susan and Larry Crabtree, Alabama Society

    In the 18th century the Spanish “Piece of 8” was the most widespread type of money on the planet. People from China to Connecticut used it to buy goods and pay debts. When Spanish explorers learned of rich silver mines in the South American Incan Empire in the 1540s, they quickly took control of them. With this silver they minted coins worth 8 Reales, a Reale was like a Spanish dollar, and they came to be called the “Piece of 8”. These coins flooded the global economy and by the 18th century they were commonly found throughout the British colonies in North America. There was not enough British money in the colonies for people to conduct business, so the Spanish “Piece of 8” was prized by colonists. Early American dollars could be redeemed for Spanish silver coins which helped add value to the paper notes. This coin, made at the Spanish mint in Lima, Peru in 1755, could have been used in the British colonies to buy goods and would have been highly prized during the American Revolution when coins were scarce.
  • American Flintlock Fowler

    American Flintlock Fowler

    Date: Circa 1760s

    Origin: American and European

    Materials: Wood, Iron, Steel, Brass, and Silver

    Dimensions: 66 3/4” Long x 9 1/2” High x 2 1/2” Wide; Barrrel: 50 7/8” Long

    Gift of Neil S. Murray, Michigan Society

    Conservation provided by a grant from the Artist Preservation Group

    At the time of the American Revolution, people and armies depended on rivers and bodies of water for long-distance transportation. The Hudson River and Lake Champlain in the modern-day state of New York formed one of the most important “water roads” in the colonial era. In the fall of 1776 and again in the summer of 1777, the British Army tried to take control of this important waterway by invading south from Canada on Lake Champlain. Standing in their way was Fort Ticonderoga, controlled by the Continental Army. A militiaman named Beriah Murray travelled more than 70 miles from what is today New Hampshire to help defend Fort Ticonderoga. Beriah Murray obtained this fowler at the fort and carried it while he was in service. A fowler is a type of hunting firearm used in the 18th century to hunt birds and other small game. The Continental Army retreated from Fort Ticonderoga but later defeated the British Army at the Battle of Saratoga. Beriah Murray took this fowler home with him after the retreat and it remained in the Murray family until it was donated to the SAR.
  • Lantern


    Date: 1750-1800

    Origin: Probably America

    Materials: Iron, Glass, Brass, Tin

    Dimensions: 20 1/4” High x 6 1/4” Wide x 6 1/4” Deep

    Gift from LACASSAR in Memory of James Blauer

    With the flip of a switch today, a room can be filled with light. In the 18th century however, having light after the sun went down was much more of a luxury This lantern, with a burning candle inside, was one of the best types of lighting available at the time. The lantern protected the candle from the wind and allowed it to burn brightly, giving off light that easily shown through the clear glass. Glass and candles were costly though and were used to give light for important work, traveling at night, and special events. There were other types of lighting available, but they did not give off as good of light as a lantern like this one. Without a source of light to work by after the sun set, many letters and documents of the American Revolution may have not been written.
  • Miniature Portrait of Dr. James Craik Craik (1730-1814) by Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827)

    Miniature Portrait of Dr. James Craik Craik (1730-1814) by Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827)

    Date: 1778

    Origin: American

    Materials: Brass, Ivory, Watercolor Paint

    Dimensions: 1 1/4” High x 1” Wide x 1/2” Deep

    Gift of Mary & James S. Craik

    This miniature portrait was painted at the Valley Forge encampment between April 26 and May 7, 1778. It was painted with watercolors on a sliver of ivory. A jeweler then set the portrait in the brass frame that could be worn as a brooch or a pendant. Such portraits were typically given to a very close family member or friend as a keepsake while the person portrayed was away. Dr. James Craik was a close friend and personal physician to George Washington. Born and educated in Scotland, Dr. Craik moved to Virginia in 1751 and later met Washington while they served together in a Virginia Provincial Regiment of the British Army during the French and Indian War. During the American Revolution, Dr. Craik served in the medical department and continued to look after General Washington’s health during the war. The two men remained friends for life and Dr. Craik was an attending physician at Washington’s death in 1799. At the time of the American Revolution, Charles Willson Peale was a soldier in the Pennsylvania Militia and an aspiring artist. Peale painted miniature portraits of many leading military figures at Valley Forge. After the Revolutionary War he painted iconic portraits of prominent Americans, patented inventions, and opened one of the earliest museums in the United States. This miniature portrait remained in the Craik family until it was donated to the SAR.