Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Reclaiming the beaches

At last we have some decent weather and nature has reclaimed the beaches  and in return surrendered some of its secrets. Today was an exceptional day and there were finds to match however there was one difference. For the first time there were other people searching in the exact spot at the same time as myself something I am not use to. It is not that I object because I don't own the beach and it is a free country and I do welcome meeting people with similar interests and I like to share information. However the other person did make a couple of significant finds and it does concern me that such finds go unrecorded.
In recent months it has occurred to me that I am educating people through my blog and I was rather hoping that I would get data in return if I point people in the right direction and they made finds. This is not turning out to be the the case as I know finds are being made using my information and yet there is no information flow in return and it is becoming one way traffic. People can be very strange and I have seen it all before, in the past people I know have dug up a couple of grand worth of gold and then act different towards me even though I pointed them in the right direction. I feel the same could be happening it I point people in the right direction to find artifacts. To be honest and I do make it clear I don't give a toss about the money it is recorded history that is important.
Everything I  find goes through the Margate Museum system and its provenance is recorded and that is how I do things. So in future I am no longer posting on my blog my finds as I find them and I will wait until one moon phase has passed then they go on the blog.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

George Knell , 7 Cranbourne Alley Margate.

I bought this bottle some time ago on ebay from a local dealer.It is impressed KNELL MARGATE and has no potters mark. The seller put the date at around the 1860's and the bottle needed some further research.
So it was by chance that I was going through the 1855 Margate directory and I came across the name George Knell 7 Cranbourne Alley Margate. George Knell is listed as a confectioner and in the Victorian times confectioners, general stores and even chemists brewed their own ginger beer to sell on their premises. In  Victorian Margate brewing ginger beer was a cottage industry  due to the influx of visitors to the town. Evidence of this can be found almost anywhere on the Margate main sands below the low tide mark by the different earthenware shards from the different styles of ginger beer bottles that can be found in the area.

Cranbourne Alley was a part of old Margate that was demolished in 1965. It was like a small lane and eight feet wide in places with small Victorain shops either side.
There are many written articles on Cranbourne Alley that can be found on google that really make interesting reading.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

That rustic appeal

Following on from my previous posting I am now sourcing earthenware bottle finds from further around the coast especially those recovered further out to sea. This gem was picked up in fishing nets our side of the channel, however the exact chart position is unknown.
The bottle is an earthenware two tone one pint porter and has that wonderful  straight out of the sea look about it. Impressed close to the base is the name POWELL which was a pottery company in Bristol up until 1906 when it amalgamated with one of its rivals.

I am just amazed how one side of the bottle is encrusted in barnacles to such an extent that they have become fused to the bottle. A bottle in this condition is common to the Thanet coastline but a complete find like this is still very difficult to come by.

My local earthenware project is now starting to gain momentum as I am now including other peoples finds into my collection. Recently I saw a large collection of found vulcanite bottles stoppers, something I haven't seen for a long time.It was interesting just to pick through them identifying local names that have long gone. Among the more common bottle stoppers were some obscure like Duckett  Trinity Square Margate which after after a quick browse through local directories I found originated from the Rose in June pub in the area.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Ramsgate Town Plan Survey


The Ramsgate Town Plan Survey is now live on the Ramsgate Town Council Website 
and will close on 1st January 2013.  A survey link will be sent  to 
all members of RATS and  paper copies created for the shops within the 
area.  If you could distribute the link further to Ramsgate Residents it 
would be much appreciated, this would gather a more general outlook 
within Ramsgate.

Link for survey is below:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TBDMSH5

Bathgate Soda Water

Following from previous posting I have photographed the Bathgate Soda water bottle  retrieved from the seabed off Broadstairs. I have photographed the bottle especially for the benefit of internet search engines. The bottle has the "EX" duty mark that dates it between 1817 to 1834. Other websites indicate that Bathgate was a chemist in Calcutta India. So I am working on the assumption this bottle may have English East India connections as it was retrieved from the sea bed.



This bottle that has a striking similarity to the one above. It was found this year in Margate Harbour. It was found after all the spoil from the digging arising from the under pinning of the stone pier had washed down. It has no potters mark or any other impressions that does make accurate identification and dating impossible. However I am interested in the similarity to the bottle above, plus I also know at what depth it was dug and the location in the Harbour. In the same location I did find remains of English squat cylinder bottles from the 1780's to 1820's period.


This is earthenware shard no 2 on my records. It is part of a flagon lent by E G Wastall who were wine and  spirit merchants. The shard was found as result of the sea defence works at Margate this year.Even though the shard is impressed Ramsgate the company had premises in both Ramsgate and Margate trading from 1874 to 1914. The Ramsgate store was in Queen Street Ramsgate and the Margate one was at 19 High Street Margate.



Saturday, 13 October 2012

There's plenty more fish in the sea.

Today (13/10/12) I had a good look at all the items I have on loan in the Margate Museum including all the  items I have found on the beaches. It has been my intention for some while to donate a large part of my collection to the Margate Museum for display , for hands on and for the permanent collection. Considering that everything of mine in the Museum has been found within a half mile radius of the Margate Museum or has a strong Margate provenance I am sure it will be a historical asset to the town.
Since last week my find rate is back to the level as it was in late spring . So I decided now is the time to donate most of the collection to the Museum should they want it. The only exception being all the earthenware as I need to go through the earthenware bottles and  shards as  I am making dating and collecting earthenware my winter search project in the Margate harbour area. In the past I have found pieces of Bellarmine Flagon in Margate Harbour dating from the latter half of the 1600's so I am confident this will work.

My other project is Georgian Margate, and the intention is to from a portable collection of finds dating from 1714 to 1830 of items found in the Margate area including Georgian items of local origin with a weak provenance. I have started to record  the few Georgian items I have so far, I have brought label holders and printed display labels to go with these items. The items once recorded are going to be boxed up with the labels and stored. The intention is to have a collection that can be readily displayed at short notice. It will take time to build the collection and it is early days but in theory I would eventually be able to kit out one or even two of the rooms of  a building like the Tudor House within an hour providing they have display cabinets.

As for Victorian, Edwardian and the rest of the 20th Century finds.Most of the finds this winter from these era's will go direct to the Museum  as I find them, that is providing the Museum will accept them .However, I will keep a small token collection of duplicates of what the Museum already has for my own pleasure.


Friday, 12 October 2012

The Margate sea defence diaries - identified earthenware shards No 1

Following on from my previous posting I am now going through the process of checking all the earthenware shards I found this year in Margate Harbour during the sea defence works.
This piece found in Margate Harbour is impressed with part of a word that contains the lettering "RWEILER". The complete bottle is either a ceramic gin bottle or a water bottle and dates from around the 1850's.The full lettering on the bottle would read GEORG KREUZBERG AHRWEILER RHENPREUSSEN and the origin is German.


Thursday, 11 October 2012

Another interesting discovery.


Recently I brought a salt glaze earthenware bottle from a shop in Broadstairs it is impressed Bathgates Soda Water and has the 1817 to 1834 duty mark. The bottle had come off the sea bed at Broadstairs and this was evident as parts of the salt glaze had been affected by its time on the sea bed.  But other than that the bottle was in very good condition.
I was attracted to the bottle because it carried the 1817 to 1834 earthenware duty mark and also in June this year I found an earthenware bottle of identical same shape and size in Margate Harbour.  

My first piece of research on the internet was to establish who Bathgates was. On a bottle diggers website I was surprised to find that Bathgate & Co were chemists in Calcutta India who produced soda water, possibly linking the bottle to English East India Company origins considering the bottle was found at sea. On the same link another bottle of the shape and size found in the Thames was featured having a striking similarity to the two bottles I own.

The bottle on the link is unique because it is one of the oldest dated soda water bottles in the country dated  as 1802 to 1805. This is identified by the details impressed on the bottle and backed up by research.
It is the detail on the 1802 to 1805 bottle that has now put me on a new lead on my Margate finds because it is impressed with the abbreviation M W which I would assume would mean mineral water. In fact M W at the early part of the 1800’s meant Mephitic Water and not Mineral Water something I have always assumed when picking up earthenware shards. During the underpinning of the stone pier at Margate I picked up every single earthenware shard that was uncovered by the deep digging and I still have them.  So I am now going through them working to a theory that there is every possibility that buried in Margate harbour there is evidence of the oldest dated mineral water bottles in the country.

 In 1767 scientist Joseph Priestly invented soda water and published his findings in 1772. From that date there were many modifications to his invention and eventually put to commercial use. In 1792 J.J. Schweppe set up a company in London to manufacture and sell soda water. London Chemists even manufactured soda water for retail. All manufacturers did have one thing in common and that was that all soda water products were sold in earthenware bottles due to the volatile nature of soda water.
During that time period Margate was a visitor destination for the Thames sailing hoys and then in later years was the first commercial routes for paddle steamers. Now considering that most of oldest salt glaze mineral water bottles in the country have been found in the Thames which is an embarkation point. Then what are the odds that Margate Harbour being a destination point could have the same dated bottles drank on the journey buried deep in the Margate Harbour like in the Thames 
At present I have one bottle found in Margate Harbour of the design of that period but it is cannot be accurately dated. So at present my only chance I have of putting this theory to the test is by the examination of the shards I have and the ones I keep finding. Unless I am lucky enough to find a complete impressed bottle.

Tony Ovenden

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Another Georgian Margate find.

One of the finds from last week on Margate main sands was this broken bottle neck from an English squat cylinder bottle. It dates anytime from the 1780's to the 1820's . This is the first one I have found with the cork still intact at Margate. It was found in an area on the main sands where the sand  had washed down to the clay bed of the old creek last winter.
The discolouration to the glass is consistent to other finds from the same period that have been laying in silt for around two hundred years or more. During the underpinning of the stone pier earlier on this year many discoloured glass fragments of the same period were also found where the deep digging took place close to the wall of the stone pier. However the main feature of this find is not the discolouration of the glass it is the way the lip has been applied after the bottle has been blown as it is consistent with the generic wine and spirit squat cylinder bottles of the 1780's to 1820's period.
From the 1820's the design of lips did change and the length of the collars changed so the contents of the bottle would identify a particular wine or spirit. I suspect this change came about due to the end of the Napoleonic wars as imported bottled wines would have freely entered the country from all over Europe. Each bottle having different brand designs which forced a design change in England as generic designed bottles would have been no longer fashionable.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

100 to 1

In Friday's Isle of Thanet Gazzette (5/10/12) on page 26 I got a write up on some of my beachcombing finds in the Margate area that are currently on display in the Margate Museum. Reading through the article I couldn't help thinking what a difference a year makes. As this time last year I was planning for the start of the sea defence works at Margate. My target was to pick up everything I could that was man made and over one hundred years old.  Anyone who knows the Margate main sands and harbour area well  would know that this is not as much of daunting task as it sounds. Simply because  finding items over one hundreds can be done on an industrial scale due to silting nature of the bay that has time locked so many items in the anaerobic layers of silt and sand.
On another point  I expect many readers of this blog are thinking that everything I do is about Margate and Icover very little about the rest of Thanet.
Being Ramsgate based I do put as much effort into finding things around the Ramsgate coastline as I do at Margate. But the problem is that finding anything old and man made (over 100 years) on the coast  at Ramsgate is very difficult and I would certainly applaud someone who has managed to build up a collection of coastal finds from the Ramsgate foreshore.
It is unfortunate that the  most frequented piece of beach at Ramsgate by the Victorians just happens to be the most volatile and unsettled piece of sand on the Thanet coastline that changes it shape almost on a weekly basis. So therefore finds are almost none existent as there has never been a silting process to bury and conserve anything.
Inside Ramsgate  Harbour on the other hand is the complete opposite and it does make the mind boggle as to what lies buried deep in the harbour. Reading through  the accounts of the shipping that sank in the harbour entrance trying to find a safe haven during the nineteenth century I guess there is a strong case for some good finds. However, the problem is none of it can be accessed.
So the only remaining option for accessible finds is the walk from the foreshore from the Western Undercliff to Pegwell Bay and into the bay itself. Over the years I have made Ramsgate finds in this area and it does appear that for every single items I find at Ramsgate I do find one hundred items in the same time period at Margate which is unfortunate trying to build a Ramsgate collection.
Above is a recent Ramsgate beach find and it is part of a Philpott ginger beer bottle and like every glass bottle produced by Stephen George Philpott there is a date, with this piece dated 1895. This piece is by no means rare and neither is the complete bottle. In fact S G Philpott glass bottles from the 1890's to 1920 are the most well known and easy to obtain bottles in Ramsgate. All are dated along with the stopper and some bottles can fetch as much as £40. I know Ramsgate Town Council has a dated Ginger beer bottle in their collection because I gave it to them and the Margate museum has one along with other Ramsgate bottles.
I have been following the local bottle (1880's to 1920's) market for some time and there is a huge price difference paid for a Ramsgate bottle compared to a Margate bottle with Margate being far cheaper overall. My Margate bottle collection is mostly finds from the Margate area and I have spent around £100 + to fill in the gaps and this collection is currently on loan to the Margate museum for display at present. As for a Ramsgate collection I am now planning on building an entire new collection.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

First dig of the Autumn

This morning was my first dig of the autumn and the objective was to finish off what I started in late spring, recording old bottle remains on the Margate main sands. It was low water and it was a familiar sight of shingle breaking through  the sand mixed with fragments of glass and earthenware.
Most of the bottle bases throughout the year have now been removed with myself being the main culprit . I must have exceeded 200 + most dating from the 1780's to the dawn of the twentieth century. However today I did manage to find a dozen ranging from the beginning to the end of the 19th century.
In the photograph the pontil scarring on the bottles can been clearly seen and that helps date the bottles. The top three on the left are fine examples of where the iron pontil rod has been attached so the bottle could be finished off and the lip applied. These bottles more than likely dates  in the 1820's to 1840's bracket.
The remaining bottles date from the later  Victorian period . Representing a Victorian day at the sea side of which the evidence is still in abundance on the foreshore at Margate.