Great idea—Southampton Historical Museum is having an online-only exhibition through the month of November. Called Overlooked Objects, a new object from the museum’s collection is posted every day on Facebook and Instagram. Each object is “a unique but commonly overlooked”; with the aim of giving people “new appreciation for the objects that historically were essential to daily life - but today are almost unknown.”
Above is a piece of scrimshaw, a horn cup. Scrimshaw is a uniquely American art form first practiced by whaleship sailors. A sailor would use a pocket knife or a discarded needle from the ship’s sailmake to cut and/or scratch a picture into a polished tooth or horn. The sailor would rub pigment such as soot or dyed gunpowder into the scratches to make the pictures more visible.
Today’s object is a Dutch Delft tobacco jar. Delft jars were used in colonial America for storing herbs, spices, and tobacco. Delft is a soft earthenware pottery sealed with a lead glaze made opaque using ashes or tin oxide, usually made around the city of Delft in the Netherlands but also made in England later. The Dutch East India Company traded Chinese blue and white porcelain beginning in the 17th century; eventually the demand was so great the Dutch tried to imitate the porcelain themselves. And what was “rappee”? A strong snuff made from dark, rank tobacco leaves. (Yuck!)