Remember that urge to dig you had as a child? Some people never grow out of it. I don’t blame them because there’s treasure buried under the dirt and ash that fill 18th and 19th century privy and cistern holes.
Back in 2009 I had a chance to talk in depth with privy digger Rick Weiner of Allentown, Pa. (Read the article Privy to History here) He gave me all the ins and outs of digging and shared some of the phenomenal finds he’s uncovered.
Today I opened my email to get an exciting update.
Rick Weiner and Paul Seidel were digging an old 1870s cistern and uncovered some great items. Rick says he usually stays away from cisterns (underground storage tanks for rainwater): “Digging cisterns are a gamble, but this one payed off for us.”
Rick sent these photos of the items he found in the 1870s cistern: (Note they are in perfect, undamaged condition.)
Treasures half-buried in the cistern’s ash layer.
(All photos courtesy Rick Weiner.)
Here you can see that Rick found a cobalt beer bottle (he reports this one is from the 1870s), a salt-glazed jug, a very old beer mug, and a stoneware beer bottle … all supporting evidence: the cistern belonged to a tavern.
He also found an old William Ridgway “View from Ruggles House” dinner plate.
Another exciting find he shares is from a privy: a trio of carved pipe heads:
For your enjoyment, here’s a free PDF download of the two-page spread in Antique Trader magazine with more of Rick and Paul’s photos: PrivyDiggerUpdate.pdf.
Congratulations Rick! We’ll be watching for more news of your exciting finds.
Related product: Tales of an Upstate New York Bottle Miner, by Patricia Crandall.
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