Coffee for Two

Early coffeepots were designed to hold only a cup or two of coffee. It was only once coffee became less expensive and easy to obtain that the pots increased in size. The gem pictured (figuratively speaking—you can find one similar on eBay for under $10) is an example...

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A Well-Travelled Cobblestone

The story of well-traveled cobblestones, or ballast rock from foreign ports, paving America’s colonial seaport streets is a romantic one. I wonder if it’s true. What’s ballast? It’s the material carried in a ship’s hull so the ship doesn’t topple. An empty hull is...

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Broadsides – Trash Tabloids of Days Past

Yesterday's Tabloids Simple and cheap, broadsides were a common means of communication for close to three hundred years, up through the early 1800s. They were first used to post notices of royal proclamations and later expanded into notices of events, advertisements,...

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An Eighteenth-Century Luxury: Books

Just how expensive were books for the average Philadelphian in the 1780s? I've read they were a luxury, however learning an edition of The History of Ancient Greece, from the earliest time until the time it became a Roman province, by William Robertson, Esq. with a...

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Masquerades a Public Nuisance?

Masked balls of the eighteenth century fostered all sorts of illicit amusements.  The events, both commercial and private, were seen by some as an opportunity to freely engage in unseemly behavior while maintaining anonymity. They were enormously popular—in...

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Lending Libraries

The demand for reading material kept pace with the growing rate of literacy in British North America, and by the last half of the eighteenth century Philadelphia boasted a small number of lending libraries to meet it. One of the public libraries was Thomas Bradford's...

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