Naval officer’s sword
Unmarked
Continental Europe
1850-1860

Captain John Morris Wampler, chief of engineers at Battery Wagner, carried this non-regulation 1841 pattern piece featuring an eagle’s head pommel, leather-covered grip and folding guard, this formidable saber. Customary to some officers, Wampler had his name engraved on the scabbard’s middle brass band. 

Assigned to General Pierre G.T. Beauregard’s staff, Captain Wampler returned to Charleston just in time for the disastrous summer of 1863 and the Federal siege of Battery Wagner. A surveyor by trade, Wampler directed the construction ancillary batteries, bombproofs and powder magazines within Wagner all the while under near-constants artillery fire. Sadly, it was inside one of his bombproofs (or semi-submerged, reinforced interiors capable of withstanding indirect shelling), where he died instantly upon a direct hit from a Union gunboat on August 17, 1863.

Wampler’s remains were returned to his native Virginia later that month and were buried in Union Cemetery in Leesburg. Preserving his sword for the next 31 years, his widow, Kate, presented it to the City of Charleston on September 11, 1894.

Author’s note: many will recognize this as the cover piece on The Charleston Museum’s brochure around town

Weaponry Wednesday: Each Wednesday we post an object (or group of objects) from the Charleston Museum’s diverse weapons collection. Many Weaponry Wednesday items may be on permanent exhibit in our armory or elsewhere in the museum, but some pieces rarely see exhibition, temporary or permanent, but are well worth sharing.  We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on WEAPONRY WEDNESDAY! Also, we always want to learn more about our collection - if you have some insights on a piece, please feel free to share!  #WeaponryWednes.

Fashions of the 1970s were definitely over the top, as evidenced by this stunning aqua evening dress. It is overlaid with aqua chiffon covered with large abstract floral designs – some painted, some appliquéd colored taffeta (pin, blue, purple, yellow and lime green) edged with gold metallic embroidery and embellished with gold sequins and rhinestones. It has a high corded waistline, popular for the period, with a slightly gathered long skirt. The bodice is only partially lined, leaving the long sleeves and upper bodice sheer. It has a zipper closure in back and bears a label: “Elinor Simmons / for Malcolm Starr® / Made in The British Crown Colony of Hong Kong.”

This amazing dress was worn by Alice LeMacks Patrick here in Charleston to the wedding of Robert Lockwood and Jean Louise Schill on August 22, 1970. Alice had been given this dress by Blossom Krawcheck, of Krawcheck’s Ladies Companion Shop at 313 King Street. This was part of the fashionable Jack Krawcheck men’s clothing business, originally opened in 1922 and closing in 1995, long after his death.

Malcolm Starr (1924-2008) was head of the popular American ready-to-wear company started by his father in the 1940s. He was one of the first to lease factories in India and China for manufacturing and operated boutiques in Hong Kong and Japan. After his father’s death in 1969, Malcolm ran the business until 1976. One of the designer names associated with Malcolm Starr was Elinor (Rizkallah) Simmons from the early 1960s until 1972. Their simple lines were often enhanced by elaborate beading and embroidery, the work done in Hong Kong.

This dress is currently on exhibit in Fashion Flashback: 1970s (January 18 to April 27, 2014)

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

These two designer bags were made in 2003 and signed by Charleston designer, Mary K. Norton. They were retailed under her Moo Roo / Charleston label at her shop at 316 King Street. 

The black satin purse with three fabric magnolias is entitled Southern Lady. The stiff fabric bag has a flap over the font, closing with a magnetic button. It is lined with black satin. 

The flamboyant ostrich feather bag is entitled Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The flowing feather extend beyond the bottom of the bag. It is open at the top with a small flap to close with a magnetic button and the bag is lined with black satin.

Mary K. Norton founded her company in 1998; within eight years it grew to international proportions and locations. She created handbags and shoes for the stars. Her whimsical yet sophisticated designs appealed on many levels and found favor with both red carpet stars and stylish clients. Her boutiques were forced to close in 2009, but in 2010 she restarted her Moo Roo brand and is now even back on King Street at Art Mecca of Charleston.

Both bags are on exhibit in Fashion Accessories: Purses January 25 – April 27, 2014

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

Maynard Carbine
Massachusetts Arms Co. 
Chicopee, MA
1857

As southern secession and even a possible war against the Union became more realistic by the late 1850s, many southern governments looked to bolster their armories. Thus, as demand for both edged weapons and firearms spiked around the country, arms production became big business – and not just for gunsmiths. Practically anyone with even a remotely practical idea on how to gain a battlefield advantage through superior firepower could cash in, and from the mid-1850s through to the end of the Civil War, an influx of firearm alterations, gadgets, gizmos and other weaponized curiosa emerged.

One such offering was the Maynard Carbine, named for its inventor, a New York dentist named Dr. Edward Maynard, whose southern advertising campaign emphasized ease of use:  “Nothing to do with a Maynard but load her up, turn her north, and pull the trigger; if twenty of them don’t clear out all yankee-dom than I’m a liar…” The ads worked. Southern armories ordered about 1,600 of these first-model, breech-loading pieces prior to secession, and the Confederate Congress placed an additional order of 1,000 guns for assorted Cavalry units throughout Virginia and the Carolinas.

Carrying a nickname of “pop-gun,” the Maynard was anything but. It was an efficient weapon to say the least. Factory warranted to fire 12 rounds per minute with an effective range of 1600 yards, it was simplistic in its workings as a breechloader and, moreover, utilized brass cartridges. But, despite its overwhelming popularity, the Maynard had its shortcomings. The lack of a forward stock, for instance, forced the shooter to place his hand on a bare metal barrel, which after six or so rounds became quite hot to the touch. More of a liability, however, was its paper tape primer (similar to toy cap guns still around even now). In an effort to cut down on reloading time, Maynard devised a rolled length of tape embedded with multiple mercury fulminate capsules. Unlike the single-shot percussion caps, however, these capsules were embedded at measured intervals inside the tape and would automatically feed into place when the hammer was cocked. 

To be fair, Maynard’s paper tape priming system worked great - at least until it started raining. Despite its varnishing, the tape roll still proved unreliable in damp conditions, and was soon replaced with the standard metallic percussion cap action. 

Weaponry Wednesday: Each Wednesday we post an object (or group of objects) from the Charleston Museum’s diverse weapons collection. Many Weaponry Wednesday items may be on permanent exhibit in our armory or elsewhere in the museum, but some pieces rarely see exhibition, temporary or permanent, but are well worth sharing.  We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on WEAPONRY WEDNESDAY! Also, we always want to learn more about our collection - if you have some insights on a piece, please feel free to share!  #WeaponryWednes

Get ready for Valentines Day with this gorgeous red velvet dress from the 1920s. Perfect also for a set on Downton Abbey, the red silk velvet sheath dress has a wide self-belt or sash trimmed with long copper beaded fringe. Beading and sequin ornamentation embellish the neck, armholes and front center along with wonderful stylized flowers all over the skirt. The dress simply slips over the head with no additional opening or fasteners, but the skirt is slit up the front, concealed by the wide sash.

This fashionable garment bears a label from Adair / 4 Cité Paradis / Paris and was made probably in the mid to late 1920s. The House of Adair made beaded dresses in France for export to the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. Their peak of production was in 1924-1925, closing their doors in the 1930s.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

Shenkl shellAllegheny Arsenal (attributed)Pittsburgh, PA1860-65
Named for its developer, John P. Shenkl, and used primarily as a naval projectile, Schenkl shells were loaded with a papier-mâché cylinder enclosing the shell’s rear conical section. This covering provided a tighter fit inside the canon’s barrel. Once fired, this cylinder disintegrated leaving the shell with a more streamlined, oval shape, allowing for increased distance and accuracy. The rounded nose pattern of this particular shell indicates it was of “case shot” design, the forward section holding small-caliber musket balls that would scatter radially upon detonation. 
Numerous Shenkl shells of varying calibers are still found around Charleston, most of which appear to have been fired by Admiral John A. Dahlgren’s naval gunships during the Siege of Charleston 1863-1865. 
Weaponry Wednesday: Each Wednesday we post an object (or group of objects) from the Charleston Museum’s diverse weapons collection. Many Weaponry Wednesday items may be on permanent exhibit in our armory or elsewhere in the museum, but some pieces rarely see exhibition, temporary or permanent, but are well worth sharing.  We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on WEAPONRY WEDNESDAY! Also, we always want to learn more about our collection - if you have some insights on a piece, please feel free to share!  #WeaponryWednes

Shenkl shell
Allegheny Arsenal (attributed)
Pittsburgh, PA
1860-65

Named for its developer, John P. Shenkl, and used primarily as a naval projectile, Schenkl shells were loaded with a papier-mâché cylinder enclosing the shell’s rear conical section. This covering provided a tighter fit inside the canon’s barrel. Once fired, this cylinder disintegrated leaving the shell with a more streamlined, oval shape, allowing for increased distance and accuracy. The rounded nose pattern of this particular shell indicates it was of “case shot” design, the forward section holding small-caliber musket balls that would scatter radially upon detonation. 

Numerous Shenkl shells of varying calibers are still found around Charleston, most of which appear to have been fired by Admiral John A. Dahlgren’s naval gunships during the Siege of Charleston 1863-1865. 

Weaponry Wednesday: Each Wednesday we post an object (or group of objects) from the Charleston Museum’s diverse weapons collection. Many Weaponry Wednesday items may be on permanent exhibit in our armory or elsewhere in the museum, but some pieces rarely see exhibition, temporary or permanent, but are well worth sharing.  We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on WEAPONRY WEDNESDAY! Also, we always want to learn more about our collection - if you have some insights on a piece, please feel free to share!  #WeaponryWednes

This stylish early 20th century purse or handbag is luscious red velvet with red leather side and bottom gussets. The front scalloped pocket is ornamented with red leather pointed ovals studded with steel beads. The bag has a steel frame with knob clasp and the red velvet handle attaches to the frame with steel fittings shaped like hands grasping the frame. Elegant but also practical, it is lined with tan cotton.
The purse came to the Museum in 2007 from the granddaughter of Eulalie Northrop Wall, Marion, S.C. It was found in a trunk of her things, including her wedding dress from 1912. Helen Eulalie Northrop was born in Idaho in 1891 but married John Furman Wall, a Marion, S.C. native. His military service took him around the globe during and after World War I. She died in 1964 and they are both buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Perhaps this wonderful purse dates to around the time of her marriage.
See this purse and many more in our exhibit Fashion Accessories: Purses!
TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

This stylish early 20th century purse or handbag is luscious red velvet with red leather side and bottom gussets. The front scalloped pocket is ornamented with red leather pointed ovals studded with steel beads. The bag has a steel frame with knob clasp and the red velvet handle attaches to the frame with steel fittings shaped like hands grasping the frame. Elegant but also practical, it is lined with tan cotton.

The purse came to the Museum in 2007 from the granddaughter of Eulalie Northrop Wall, Marion, S.C. It was found in a trunk of her things, including her wedding dress from 1912. Helen Eulalie Northrop was born in Idaho in 1891 but married John Furman Wall, a Marion, S.C. native. His military service took him around the globe during and after World War I. She died in 1964 and they are both buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Perhaps this wonderful purse dates to around the time of her marriage.

See this purse and many more in our exhibit Fashion Accessories: Purses!

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

Bolo knife with wooden sheath
unmarked
Philippines / South Pacific / Oceana
1830-1850

An intimidating and heavy tool to say the least, the term bolo appears to be of native Philippine origin as does the unique design itself. First developed as farming implement, the thick curved blade (typically around 18-inches length) widens considerably at its tip. This extra weight at the forward end created a powerful and effective cutting motion. Because of this, the bolo easily lent itself to all sorts of agricultural tasks including plowing. 

Although still today commonly used as field tools, Pacific Island peasants of the early 19th century learned to use them as self-defensive weapons, and militaries soon took notice. Armies in both Europe and the US eventually adopted the bolo knives for use in their artillery crews, who used extensively in both World Wars to clear brush and cut trails for their caissons. 

One of the more public and gruesome uses of a bolo occurred on December 7, 1972 when a would-be assassin used one to attack then-First Lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos. On stage with cameras rolling, Marcos was stabbed multiple times in the midsection and received serious lacerations to her hands and forearms, but somehow survived. In this interview with Marcos, she discusses her distaste for the use of this particular knife. 

Weaponry Wednesday: Each Wednesday we post an object (or group of objects) from the Charleston Museum’s diverse weapons collection. Many Weaponry Wednesday items may be on permanent exhibit in our armory or elsewhere in the museum, but some pieces rarely see exhibition, temporary or permanent, but are well worth sharing.  We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on WEAPONRY WEDNESDAY! Also, we always want to learn more about our collection - if you have some insights on a piece, please feel free to share!  #WeaponryWednes

This lovely embroidered wool shawl was purchased in 1838 by Dr. Henry Boylston as a 17th birthday present for his daughter, Mary Eleanor, born on January 21, 1821 in Charleston. The shawl had been imported from France by Mrs. Day, who kept a shop here. The shawl consists of a large central square with embroidered bouquets in opposing corners and surrounded by a pieced border of 26 embroidered squares in red, cream and blue wool. Each square features a different flower, beautifully worked in satin stitch, outline and French knots. A delicate tambour-work border outlines each block. What a lovely gift for a young lady!

But the shawl’s interesting history does not stop there. Mary Eleanor (1821-1900) married John Laurens Toomer in 1840 and their daughter, Harriet Rutledge Toomer married Stephen Decatur Doar in 1885. During World War I, Mrs. Doar sold the shawl to help raise money for French orphans. It was purchased by Robert Goodwyn Rhett, former mayor of Charleston and President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1916 and 1917. After the war, in 1923, Rhett donated the shawl to the Museum along with its charming story.

TEXTILE TUESDAYS: Each Tuesday we post a piece from the Charleston Museum’s textile collection.  Some items have been on exhibit, some will eventually be shown in our Historic Textiles Gallery and some may be just too fragile to display. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on TEXTILE TUESDAY! #TextileTuesday

Caisson (or ammunition chest)
Unmarked
Spanish (attributed)
c.1898

A standard design used in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, this compartmentalized ammunition chest was made to hold cartridges, case shot and canister shot. Made from pine with thick metal bands at the seams, when fully packed it could weigh as much as 450 pounds. Because of their weight, ammunition chests like these were loaded and secured onto limbers, two-wheeled horse- or vehicle-drawn carts. When in use the limber was detached and moved manually with the chest still in place. By World War I, military supply companies were producing most caissons with iron sheeting, which added a greater measure of protection for the explosive shells inside them.  

Weaponry Wednesday: Each Wednesday we post an object (or group of objects) from the Charleston Museum’s diverse weapons collection. Many Weaponry Wednesday items may be on permanent exhibit in our armory or elsewhere in the museum, but some pieces rarely see exhibition, temporary or permanent, but are well worth sharing.  We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on WEAPONRY WEDNESDAY! Also, we always want to learn more about our collection - if you have some insights on a piece, please feel free to share!  #WeaponryWednes