Antiquing at Lanier

Written by Gerry Reilly, site manager at Lanier Mansion State Historic Site

lanier_antique_marketAfter about a year of planning, the first Annual Madison Antiques Market was on Sunday, Oct. 4. There was a wide variety of items from the late 19th and the early 20th century offered by 35 dealers. Some of the treasures I saw were an early 19th century chest of drawers in the Hepplewhite style in good condition and a life-size ceramic bust of Napoleon Bonaparte.

I couldn’t resist making a purchase! I lived in Wheeling, WV, for almost 20 years before I moved to Madison. While walking through the show, I spotted a small ceramic bowl made by the Ohio Valley China Co. which produced true porcelain in Wheeling in the 1880s. This was unusual since most true porcelain at that time was made in Europe. The company only lasted three years. I couldn’t pass up the chance to own a piece made by the company, especially since the price was only $4!

The weather was perfect that day and almost 400 antique-lovers attended. Several dealers commented on the beautiful setting and the hospitality of the sponsoring organizations. The show manager, the Cornerstone Society, and the Lanier Mansion Foundation each received a portion of the admission fees. If you couldn’t make it in 2009, be sure to join us in 2010!

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Have EP, will travel

102209_epRecently, the Emancipation Proclamation (EP) from the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection had to travel from its home at the Indiana State Museum to the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) for an important event. The EP, along with one of the last completed portraits of Lincoln, were featured artifacts for the Lincoln Collection opening event at ACPL. Visitors invited to the ACPL opening event were able to get an up close and personal viewing of this rare document and painting along with numerous other artifacts from the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, courtesy of the State of Indiana.

Collections assistant Meredith McGovern and Lieutenant Dean Jenkins with the Emancipation Proclamation.

Collections assistant Meredith McGovern and Lieutenant Dean Jenkins with the Emancipation Proclamation.

The importance and rarity of this one-of-a-kind document require that it have special handling for its travel to Ft. Wayne and then back to Indianapolis. So, with a quick call to the Department of Natural Resources Conservation office department, the problem was solved. DNR Conservation officers traveled with Indiana State Museum staff members who were couriering the important artifacts to and from Ft.Wayne. These conservation officers provided necessary security for the document and painting during their travels. Lieutenant Dean Jenkins provided security for Meredith McGovern, museum collection manager, during the return trip from ACPL. There are no plans in the immediate future for the Emancipation Proclamation to travel again because it will soon be on exhibit at the Indiana State Museum in With Charity for All, opening Feb. 12, 2010.

More information about the EP and portrait of Lincoln, along with the other artifacts in the Lincoln Financial Foundation collection, can be found in the Indiana State Museum online collection database.

The Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection was given to the State of Indiana in December 2008 by the Lincoln Financial Foundation. The Indiana State Museum is home to the historic objects and art while most of the books, documents and photographs reside at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne.

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Fresh from the Lab

Written by Michele Greenan, Natural History and Archaeology Collections Manager at the Indiana State Museum

Archaeology requires a lot of patience, sometimes tedious fieldwork and perhaps a little guesswork. So finds like this one are especially exciting and fun to work on.

The house basin and vessel fragments.

The house basin and vessel fragments.

We recovered a ceramic vessel in southern Indiana last year during excavations at what is often referred to as “the Yankeetown Site.” It is about 900 years old and was made by one of the first groups in Indiana to incorporate corn as an important garden crop. The fragmented vessel was recovered in the corner of a structure, possibly a house.

Back in the lab, after the sherds (pieces of broken pottery) were cleaned and analyzed, we realized that we had enough sherds to reconstruct about ¼ of a vessel! Getting only ¼ of a vessel might not seem all that fantastic, but it’s pretty good news to archaeologists who are typically in the business of ‘all things broken.’ In fact, this is the largest portion of this particular vessel type that has been recovered thus far from this particular culture.

101909_fresh_from_lab_03So … we wanted to get this vessel reconstructed just right. The edges were consolidated with a special material that soaks into the edge and solidifies, giving it the strength and stability required to hold a join without destroying the sherd’s edges. Then we glued everything together and added a bit of plaster to help support the vessel.

Note the darkened burning in the interior base of the vessel.

Note the darkened burning in the interior base of the vessel.

One thing you don’t want to hear from your project partner when you are on your way in to see your project is “don’t freak out …!” After having totally reconstructed the vessel, my partner-in-crime took a look at a particular angle and realized that the dense, heavy sherds had slightly shifted. Any amount of shifting can distort the entire shape of the vessel, so … we took the entire thing apart. The second time around, we were much more creative in how we stabilized it while drying —we became experts at foam sculpture! The vessel proved to be a unique form of cooking pan, possibly used like a ‘skillet’ (note the darkened burning in the interior base of the vessel pictured above). If complete, this large pan would have been about 23 inches in diameter!

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Backing, wrapping, encapsulation

Written by fine art collection manager Jeana Dallape

Behind every artifact exhibited at the museum, there is a team of people who helped get it there. Famous people have entourages to make them look effortlessly perfect in public, but in museums, it’s the famous (and not so famous) artifacts that have the entourages. The famous Lincoln artifacts in our premiere exhibit of 2010, With Charity for All, are no different.

Jeana Dallape works with photographs from the LFFC.

Jeana Dallape works with photographs from the LFFC.

There are two of us (Jeana Dallape and Gaby Kienitz) who have been working for the past few months in conservation preparing the artifacts for their big debut here at the museum. With Charity for All contains more than 200 artifacts from the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, the majority of which are paper-based artifacts, such as broadsides, photographs, stereocards, sheet music and period lithographs. The methods we use to prepare artifacts for exhibition have to be reversible and non-damaging. We don’t use any method that might leave holes, or a residue or cause a stain. This exhibit will employ three types of mounts for the paper artifacts: backing and wrapping, encapsulation and framing.

Backing and wrapping and encapsulation are very similar but are used in different situations. Backing and wrapping an artifact involves cutting an acid-free backing board a little larger than the piece, then wrapping the whole package with a thin polyester film, which is secured to the backing board with archival double sided tape. This is used mainly for thicker paper artifacts.

Conservator Gaby Kienitz works with items from the LFFC.

Conservator Gaby Kienitz works with items from the LFFC.

Encapsulation uses a sheet of the polyester film for the front and another for the back. We have a special machine that fuses the polyester sheets together at the edges without affecting the fragile paper object between the layers. Then an acid-free backing board is cut just slightly larger than the artifact, to which the artifact is safely secured

When matting and framing museum pieces, we use an acid-free rag board and UV blocking acrylic sheeting in the frame to protect the artwork.  The Lincoln collection features several types of artifacts that will be framed, including letters to and from Abraham Lincoln, political cartoons and lithographs large and small.

The Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection was given to the State of Indiana in December 2008 by the Lincoln Financial Foundation. The Indiana State Museum is home to the historic objects and art while most of the books, documents and photographs reside at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne.

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More Than Just a Cup of Tea

Written by Angela Lucas, program developer at Vincennes State Historic Sites

vincennes_lydia_baconPart of preparing for a living history event like Muster on the Wabash, is seeing the world through the eyes of those you are portraying. I represent the women’s view of military life in 1812. My alter ego, Lydia Bacon, traveled with her husband Josiah from Boston to Vincennes in 1811. The journey took five months! She was 25 and more than 1,000 miles away from her family. Her only form of communication was the old-fashioned kind — snail mail! In our high-tech world, it is hard to imagine waiting four to six weeks to receive a letter from a friend or family member. With the push of a button we are connected in an instant to people around the globe. Not only were these ladies separated from their families, often they did not know if their husbands were alive or dead.

vincennes_fort_knox_teacupThe tea cup uncovered during a 2006 archaeological dig at Fort Knox II gives us a glimpse of life at the fort. In the midst of uncertainty, Lydia’s “social network,” Mrs. Ambrose Whitlock and others, centered around a simple cup of tea. It is certainly a privilege to pay tribute to these brave ladies from the past!

The 11th Annual Muster on the Wabash at Vincennes State Historic Sites is on Nov. 7 – 8. Admission is free; parking is $5.

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Why Restoration?

Written by Laura Minzes, deputy director Historic Sites Structures and Real Estate

 How do you return a building to a specific time period? Why would you do this?

The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites is undertaking the restoration of the Lanier Mansion to its 1850. Why, you ask? Well, first and most important is that J. F. D. Lanier, the building’s original and most prominent owner, occupied the house from 1844 to 1851. Mr. Lanier was a prominent banker, stockholder and financier who loaned the state money not just once but TWICE (and it was paid back by the state both times!). During the Civil War and after Mr. Lanier had relocated to New York, he made unsecured loans totaling over $1 million, first to enable Gov. Oliver P. Morton to outfit the Indiana troops, and then to enable the state to keep up interest payments on its debt.

The second reason is that when the Lanier Mansion was designated a State Historic Site in 1925, the legislature mandated that the structure reflect its 1850 appearance. And finally, the roof needed to be replaced, so it was the opportune time.

lanier_drawingNow for the “how” … Besides being a State Historic Site for over 80 years, Lanier Mansion has been a National Historic Landmark since 1994. Designed by architect Frances Costigan and considered to be one of the best examples of Greek Revival architecture in the county, the restoration to a different time period (presently it represents 1870) is not taken lightly as it involves careful removal of later additions. The drawing shows the way the Mansion will look after the restoration.

Following three years of formal study and many more years of informal discovery, the Lanier Roof project will restore the original roof line of the East Wing of the Mansion.

Workers replace gutters installed in the 1980s that had reached the end of their useful life.

Workers replace gutters installed in the 1980s that had reached the end of their useful life.

A little research and investigation always reveals fascinating secrets! Stay tuned …

The interior of the east wing with the dark line depicting the original roof line, the lower half of a window as well as the center door that were there in 1850 and the two side doors that weren’t.

The interior of the east wing with the dark line depicting the original roof line, the lower half of a window as well as the center door that were there in 1850 and the two side doors that weren’t.

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Looking for Lincoln

Written by Dale Ogden, chief curator of cultural history at the Indiana State Museum

So, like I was saying, as curator of the Lincoln exhibition, I get to have all the fun … and … it’s good to be famous. If the show goes in the tank, which it won’t, I’ll take far more blame than I think I’ll deserve. If on the other hand, it’s a blockbuster, which it will be, I’ll get far more credit than I deserve. There are about 50 people working on the project right now, but I’m the one who gets to put a name — and occasionally a face — on it. People are always telling me how much fun my job must be. Sometimes it really is.

lincoln_heritage_trailThe most fun I’m having these days is traveling around the state shooting video with Leslie, our New Media Manager. We’re putting together some pretty cool interactives and we need a lot of video, audio, still photos and other resources. Driving around shooting video of Hoosier sites related to Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War and/or the Underground Railroad, I’m reminded how pretty Indiana is. I know that must sound like an oxymoron to some, but don’t take my word for it. Get off the dang couch and take a look for yourself.

Civil War graves on the Ohio River in Perry County

Civil War graves on the Ohio River in Perry County

Drive up the Whitewater River Valley between Madison and Richmond, or cruise along the Ohio on Indiana 66, both east and west of Tell City. Find a couple a stretches of the Old Lincoln Highway — Route 30 — through Whitley, Kosciusko and Marshall Counties. Stop and explore a pioneer cemetery or two along the way, or imagine what that ruined old motel looked like in 1957 when it sat out on the edge of town … out on “the main road.” Is there any such thing as the edge of town anymore? Watch out for chiggers, though. I swear, if I was hiking at the North Pole I’d still come down with a bad case of chiggers.

Shoot! I was going to talk about Crown Hill Cemetery where 1,200 Confederate POWs are buried alongside Union generals and vice-presidents, not to mention a president, and veterans of the 28th U.S. Colored Troops … and John Dillinger. I wanted to mention the Lew Wallace Study in Crawfordsville, where the old war horse penned Ben Hur, and Gentryville where Abe Lincoln’s mother, sister and nephew are buried. But, I’m over my word limit. Maybe next time. People say I talk too much. I guess I write too much, too.

The Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection was given to the State of Indiana in December 2008 by the Lincoln Financial Foundation. The Indiana State Museum is home to the historic objects and art while most of the books, documents and photographs reside at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne.

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