Monday, June 29, 2009

Jamestown Virginia Souvenir Buildings

Building Collector Scott D. researched the following information about souvenir replicas from historic Jamestown Virginia.

“The Virginia Company landed and explored the area that became the
Jamestown colony on May 14, 1607. Finding it was a secure place where Spanish Ships could not fire point blank at the Fort. Pretty much from the beginning there was fighting with the Algonquian natives. This on and off again fighting lead the colonist to build a wooden palisade. The walls formed a triangle around a storehouse, church, and a number of houses. A souvenir version of this fort was made by Baston in 1957 for the tercentenary celebration in 1957. It is a ceramic piece and is extremely hard to find today. At this time, there are no other versions of the Jamestown fort in miniature known. Another building that Baston made was of the Jamestown church. It was made for the tercentenary celebration as well and is part of a set of four figures Baston created for the celebration. Beside the Baston souvenir versions of the Jamestown Church, there have been a number of others over the years. Some of the earliest are from the Jamestown Exposition which was held from April 26 – December 1, 1907 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. One such souvenir is a clay pipe in the form of the Jamestown church tower ruin (The church was later reconstructed in1906 by the National Society, Colonial Dames of America) On the outside of the pipe are the words: “Jamestown 1906.” The pipe comes with a hard straw mouth piece that attaches to the bottom of the tower. I’ve always said it’s one of the few souvenirs buildings you could smoke. They are much easier to find than any other version of the Church ruin. I made a recent find of heavy lead bookends in the shape of the church tower. No maker given and I assume they were made for the 1906 Exposition as well. Nice detail for a very heavy piece. The last version is a ceramic vase of the tower. Made in Japan, it looks to have been made before WWII when ceramics from Japan were dirt cheap to make. It’s red ceramic with painted green areas where the leaves were over taking the ruined tower. It is very fragile and the ceramic almost seems paper thin. This frailty leads me to believe there are not too many of these still in existence. Since it was the structured leadership of Captain John Smith that kept the colony from dissolving, there is a monument to the Captain which was erected in 1909. A 4” tall copper clad souvenir version of monument was made in the 1950’s-1960. Related to Captain Smith is the Pocahontas monument. She is said to have saved the Captain from being killed by her father Powhatan the chief of the Algonquians. This monument was erected in 1922 and was created by William Ordway Partridge. The monument sits on a stone and is just a real statue. In another souvenir version, Pocahontas stands on a pedestal and looks to be based on the monument to her in England. (check out an earlier post on that statue here) With research, I feel even though the souvenir was sold in Jamestown it is based on the English monument with the base and not the one in Jamestown. The souvenir is from the same time period as the Captain John Smith monument and is clad in copper as well. With the 400th anniversary celebration of Jamestown’s founding behind us, there are currently no newer souvenir monuments or buildings from Jamestown. 400 years seemed like a fitting occasion to make a souvenir building to me, but alas the T-shirts and coffee cups won yet again. “– Scott D.


Anonymous said...

About seven or eight years ago at the triple pier antique show in NYC there was a small lead replica of the church tower. The dealer sold a lot of worlds fair and exposition items. It stuck out as interesting to me being that it was from 1906. The replica was roughly 3" tall with a 2"x2" base. The best description would be a metal version of the pipe with out a pipe hole. The piece would be in my collection, however the piece was over $300. At the time the piece was not that interesting for the price.

Very interesting article.

Anonymous said...

Ah to bad...I bet someone else has it now in their collection. SD

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