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V13 2010 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 30, July 25, 2010, Article 24

PENNSYLVANIA ARCHEOLOGISTS FIND VIRGINIA HALFPENNY

Archeologists digging on the grounds of the Revolutionary War era Henry Muhlenberg House in Trappe, PA discovered a worn Virginia ha'penny. Here are excerpts from a local newspaper article. -Editor

Henry Muhlenberg House Archaeologist Lou Farrell didn’t exactly strike gold when he and his crew dug up an old coin at the Henry Muhlenberg House this summer.

But if the elation in his voice is any indication, to him the 1773 Virginia copper halfpenny is even more valuable.

“This was heavily used; it’s not just messed up from being in the ground,” Farrell said, handing over the coin with the murky likeness of King George III, eroded by nearly 250 years of earthen confinement.

Tons of these coins were minted for the budding southern state of Virginia at the Tower Mint in London, but colonists hoarded them instead of spending them, Farrell explained.

“The whole expedition was done by amateurs. I was here, along with a Temple University graduate who has a degree in anthropology. But that was it as far as people with higher levels of training.

“The thing is, you don’t need a master’s degree to screen dirt,” he added. “There are a lot of things kids can do on site if they’re trained properly. A lot of times, if you’re an amateur working on a dig, you come out for a couple of hours. Nobody uses amateurs the way I do, because what we’re doing here is giving them some pretty high level skills — teaching the kids how to do the documentation and understand the artifacts. They’re making a real contribution to the science.”

By Farrell’s expert estimation, this was where the home’s traditional Pennsylvania Dutch summer kitchen once stood when the house was built in 1776.

“We knew we wanted to dig because I knew there was stuff here and I looked at enough 18th-century farms to know that this was where the summer kitchen was supposed to be,” he said.

The kitchen burned down in 1779.

To read the complete article, see: Harvesting history: Muhlenberg House Archaeological Excavation Project (www.timesherald.com/articles/2010/07/24/news/doc4c4bbe3c92a52553678593.txt)

For more information on the Henry Muhlenberg House, see: The Henry Muhlenberg House (www.trappehistoricalsociety.org/muhlenberg.html)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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