J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, October 05, 2015

A Mystery Button from “Parker’s Revenge”

Last week I showed this photo of an artifact found during the archeological study of the “Parker’s Revenge” area in Lexington. On Saturday I attended Dr. Meg Watters’s progress report on that work, which included a better photo of this item, and I was quite intrigued.

I flipped the available photo upside-down to make it a little easier to interpret. It’s a cast-copper button of the size that might be used on the front of a man’s waistcoat or at the knees of his breeches.

On the lower half of the button, apparently in the foreground, is what looks like a fox running from right to left. Above that shape is a horizontal ridge; the right light reveals that to be a bridge. On either side are a series of oval blobs, getting smaller as they rise; those are stylized trees. And in the top rear, the starry shape is a windmill with a vertical tower and four sails.

The mystery is that no one has been able to identify similar iconography on any other artifact, or identify what this scene or collection of symbols might mean. Fox, bridge, windmill, trees. Does that scene represent a family, a military unit, a hunting club?

1 comment:

Chris Hurley of Woburn said...

Well, not that this is helpful, but there's a
Windmill Bridge over the Fox river
, in, um, Illinois, and dating from 1850.