Pepperboxes
left:
Allan & Thurber
Worcester, MA
right:
William W. Marston
New York, NY
c. 1850

Even though Samuel Colt is credited with revolutionizing firearms (and deservedly so), inventors and gunsmiths had long tinkered with the notion of repeating firearms. Pepperbox pistols (so-called because of their resemblance to ordinary pepper mills), were perhaps the most successful repeater guns of the pre-revolver era clearing the way for mechanized repeater handguns.

Still a multi-barreled and heavy pistol, pepperboxes did well in bringing forth the automatic phase of weaponry employing a rotating barrel mechanism allowing for multiple shots before reloading. Although earlier models required a manual rotation of barrels, later versions like the ones seen here housed a mechanism, which rotated its barrel cluster automatically upon pulling back the percussion hammer similar to a single-action revolver. Becoming popular circa 1830, pepperboxes served mainly civilian, self-defensive purposes. The barrel cluster made the pistol a bit too nose-heavy for aiming as did the centrally located hammer atop the breech disrupting a user’s line of sight.  

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

Holiday party time! In the late 1950s you might have chosen this sassy red taffeta cocktail dress designed by Madeleine Fauth. Nancy Dinwiddie Hawk of Charleston did just that. She purchased the dress at Margaret Riley’s dress shop at 103 Church Street and wore it to parties. The dress bodice is fitted with long vertical darts and has fitted kimono sleeves. This style of sleeve became popular in the 1950s with its sloping shoulder line, in contrast to the padded “power” look of the 1930s and 1940s. The kimono sleeve is cut as part of the bodice, emphasizing a continuous line between the neck and the arm, subduing the shoulder. The bodice meets the full gathered skirt at a low V waistline, trimmed with a band of tucking.

Nancy Hawk (born Nancy Shepherd Dinwiddie in 1922) met her husband, John, as a pre-med student at the University of Virginia. They moved to Charleston in 1951 when he took a position with MUSC. Even while raising nine children, Nancy was an active community leader, a preservationist and nationally honored mother of the year. She died in 2008, leaving a long and influential legacy.

Madeleine Fauth began designing in the 1930s, with one of the 7th Avenue junior houses. She started her own line, Valroy, with a friend but it lasted only a year. At the International Dress Company she again designed for junior and in 1942 did the same at Arkay. Her 1950s dresses often had full skirts and matching accessories.

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

Fowling Gun
Antonio Paguaga
Eibar, Spain
1844-1854  

As the name suggests, fowling guns (sometimes referred to as “fowling pieces”) were designed specifically for the sport of “wildfowling” or the hunting and harvesting of birds. Despite its overall length of almost 6 feet, this particular piece is remarkably lightweight at only 7.5 pounds. Makers designed most fowling guns to fire small loads of birdshot effective only at close range. Characteristic of late 18th and early 19th century fowling guns are their lengthy barrels, earlier designs sometimes reaching upwards of 7 feet. Many hunters and gunsmiths alike falsely believed at the time that longer barrels helped increase a gun’s accuracy and thus compensate for the light load.

True to the period, this sporting firearm exhibits detailed work not just from the gunsmith, but also a number of different carvers and engravers. The detailed walnut rear stock, for example, bears a carved bird’s head at the grip section and a 6–petal flower behind the cheek rest. Intricate engraving furthermore appears at the breech including the maker’s mark: “Por Antonio Paguaga en Eibar, 1854.” By the late 1500s, the town of Eibar (in the Basque region in northernmost Spain) was home a variety of gun makers producing weaponry suited for both military and sporting purposes. The gunsmith district there is still central to the region’s economy.

Pictured top: our curator of history, Grahame Long, agreed to let us photograph him with the fowling gun. We wanted to give you an appreciation of just how long the barrel is!

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 for a relaxing Thanksgiving morning – These two dressing gowns, both from the late 19th century, are currently on exhibit at the Museum. Our man’s dressing gown is black silk with braid ornamentation at the neckline and flared cuffs. The front buttons are crochet-covered with thread loops for closure. It is shown in our Fashion in Fiction exhibit, along with a black velvet smoking cap, evoking an image of Sherlock Holmes pondering over a difficult case in his rooms at 221B Baker Street. The cap is embroidered with gold thread and lined with gold silk.

The woman’s dressing gown is in Positively Paisley, an exhibit featuring the ever-popular boteh motif in shawls and garments. This striking gown has printed bands of paisley designs. The back of the gown has a gathered waistline and a small train, presumably to accommodate a bustle. It was worn by the donor’s mother, Jane Arabella Perry Jackson (1834-1922) probably in the 1870s.

Both of these dressing gowns would have been worn in the privacy of one’s home, amidst family and intimate friends only. Women could enjoy some hours of freedom before donning the restrictive corsets and bustles required of day or evening wear. And men could wear their dressing gowns over street clothes (without their jackets), in comfort and knowing they were protecting their clothing and hair from tobacco smoke aromas.

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

Happy Birthday Louis!

Louis Manigault was born to Charles and Elizabeth Heyward Manigault on November 21, 1828 in Paris.  His father was a rice planter and his mother was the daughter of one of the wealthiest rice planters in the south, Nathaniel Heyward. The Charleston Museum’s Joseph Manigault House was built for Louis’s great-uncle.
 
He received his early education at Mr. Cotes’ School in Charleston and entered Yale College in 1845 where he co-founded the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity.  He left Yale in August of 1847 to take a European trip with his brother, Charles, never to return or graduate.  After his travels he decided to become a rice planter like his father.  Charles had purchased Gowrie Plantation, a 300-acre tract of land located on Argyle Island in Georgia, in 1833 and Louis started managing it for him in 1852 at the age of 24.

During the Civil War, Louis continued to run Gowrie as well as serving in the Confederate Army as an assistant to the Surgeon General. After the war ended, the Manigault family fortune, including the plantations, were ruined.  He was, for a short time, successful at running Gowrie but it would eventually stop thriving at rice production.

Louis was meticulous in his record keeping and, fortunately, many of his plantation journals and correspondence have survived for us to view today.  The drawings are from his Gowrie Plantation journal he recorded from 1876 – 1886.  The journal is leather bound and contains plantation dealings, various addresses, train schedules, as well as four sketches of his sister’s house, Emma Manigault Jenkins.

  1. Louis Manigault (1828-1899) at age 22, perhaps shortly after returning from his European travels. This carte de visite was taken at the  studio of F.A. Nowell located at 263 King Street, Charleston, South Carolina.
  2. rough drawing of crest. roughly drawn, and wrongly shaded, but gives an outline as to exact size required for the Pedigree.To be done in India ink, and black. not colored in any manner.
  3. Book plate bearing Louis’s crest. The Manigault crest depicts three bound falcons inside a shield, two on top and one on bottom. Directly on top of the shield is the bust of Native American with a quiver of arrows on his back. The bound falcons represent the Manigault family at peace but ever ready for war. The bust represents the family’s arrival to South Carolina at the time when Native Americans occupied most of the land. And again, the quiver being full of arrows illustrates the family at peace but always prepared to fight.The family motto is directly below the shield and translates from Latin: It is better to anticipate then avenge.
  4. from Gowrie settlement 13th feb’y 1880
  5. Gowrie settlement looking N. Feb. 1880
  6. from barnyard mound looking W
  7. Gowrie Thresher bearing E.S.E. Feb. 1880
  8. bearing W. standing on No 10 S. bank outside of floodgate
  9. store bearing S.- ½ way between G. & E.H. near back river 11 [?].
  10. bearing N.W. Gowrie mound 2 new houses View taken, 2nd April 1886. L.M.
  11. “Waste-way.” 75 feet wide. looking S.E. towards the River from the inside margin. 2nd April 1886. L.M.

Links of interest:

  1. Louis’s elaborately embroidered vest, 1853
  2. Additional photos of Louis and his father Charles
  3. The Manigault Plantation Journal, compiled by Louis Manigault between 1856 and 1879. University of North Carolina manuscript collection
  4. Louis’s portrait, 1855. Gibbes Museum of Art

EPHEMERA FRIDAY: Each Friday we post a selection or small collection from the Charleston Museum’s Archives. Some items may be on exhibit, some may be too fragile to display and some may be too unusual to fit into our typical Lowcountry exhibit themes. We will occasionally ask for help identifying people or places in photographs that have come to us with little or no information. We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on EPHEMERA FRIDAY.

Pistol
B.G. Happoldt
Charleston
1849-1853

Of the three Happoldt Family gunsmiths working in Charleston during the 19th century, Benjamin George Happoldt is by far the most obscure. After his father, John Michael, turned the business over to both him and his brother, John Henry, Benjamin does not appear to stay in the shop very long appearing as a gunsmith only briefly in Charleston directories from 1849-52 . To his credit, however, most firearms bearing Benjamin’s mark are certainly not in the familiar style of either his father or brother. This piece, for example, makes clear Benjamin’s concern for detail and elegance. Intricate silver inlay and a heavily engraved lockplate are both notable removals from the typical Happoldt-manufactured wares of the same period. Additionally, Benjamin designed this particular weapon in the derringer (or short-barreled, pocket-sized) style.

While firearms marked by both John Michael and John Henry Happoldt are well represented within The Charleston Museum’s weaponry collection, pistols marked by Benjamin George Happoldt proved far more elusive. Finally, in 2000, a loyal museum member happened upon this gun in a small antique shop near Louisville, Kentucky and purchased it for the collection.

Author’s note: About the only other place B.G. Happoldt’s name appeared other than the city directories was in the January 13, 1862 Charleston Daily Courier when on January 11, the sixteenth regiment (Greenville Regiment), South Carolina Militia named him its 2nd Lieutenant.

View a target rifle by John Henry Happoldt

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

Gold silk dress with long pleated skirt and high waist, c. 1820. This simple but elegant dress is a nice transition garment between the neoclassical lines of the early 1800s (think Jane Austen fashion) and the puffy sleeves and billowy skirts of the 1830s.

The slender skirt has three tucks around the bottom hem; the bodice has gathered v-insertions pointing to the still high waist. The sleeves are interesting since they are long and fitted with an additional short, puffed oversleeve or epaulette, gathered with an encased drawstring.

This dress is currently on exhibit at The Charleston Museum in Fashion in Fiction – portraying the styling moving from Jane Austen’s works into Charles Dicken’s novels set in the 1830s. It is new piece in our collection, having been transferred to us from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2012. The dress had been given to them by the wife of Charleston-born artist Edward Lamson Henry (1841-1919). He assembled a collection of garments to use as props for his paintings. As one of the most popular and prolific genre artists in the late 19th century, he diligently painted scenes of domestic life, nostalgic and idyllic.

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

Incendiary Parrott Shell
Unmarked
United States
1860-1863

Used extensively on both sides during the Civil War, rifled Parrott guns and its conical shells (named for inventor Robert Parker Parrott) first entered into military service in 1860. Highly regarded for their accuracy and range thanks to their rifled barrels, “Parrotts” could fire exploding and incendiary shells from 10 pounds up to 300 at remarkable distances. Beginning in 1863, for example, Union General Quincy Adams Gilmore used assorted Parrott guns positioned on Morris Island to lay siege to peninsular Charleston. One such rifle in Gilmore’s arsenal was the “Swamp Angel,” a 16,300-pound piece with an 8-inch diameter muzzle capable of firing 150-pound shells four miles into the city.

Also included in Gillmore’s magazines were dozens of highly devastating incendiary shells. Large, 8-inch diameter pieces like this one contain two interior chambers. The smaller fused section at the top would explode the shell’s larger bottom section, which splattered (and subsequently ignited) a highly flammable liquid mixture of turpentine, petroleum, coal tar and/or coal oil. The hexagonal bolt, protruding from the bottom of the shell, sealed the well into which the incendiary fluid was poured.

At 1:30 AM, on August 22, 1863, the Swamp Angel fired its first round: a 150-pound incendiary shell identical to this one, which struck a home on Pinckney Street near the Charleston Hotel. The home burst into flames within mere seconds. Naturally, panic ensued as neighboring residents and guests of the hotel heard (and felt) second and third shells explode within their vicinity. Fifteen more projectiles – including ten incendiaries - hit the city at random intervals before dawn.  

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 man’s brown velvet coat was worn by William Manigault Heyward, Sr. of Charleston at the baptism of the King of Rome, Duke of Reichstadt, Napoléon François Charles Joseph Bonaparte (son of Napoleon I and his second wife, Marie Louise of Austria) at Notre Dame in 1811. It is a formal cut, partially buttoning over the chest and sweeping to the back below the waist.  While restrained it is still quite elegant, being a rich brown flecked velvet lined with cream silk, quilted over the shoulders. The collar should stand up around the neck, but it is too fragile for that now.

Representing the novels of Jane Austen in our current exhibit, Fashion in Fiction, this is the type of coat that gentlemen in her books might have worn. Her descriptive prose discussing the characters’ clothing choices has taught us all more about early 19th century fashion.

William Manigault Heyward (1789-1820) was the son of Captain Nathaniel Heyward and Henrietta Manigault. He married Susan Hayne Simmons around 1816 and had three children. Letters from him to members of his family can be found in the Lowcountry Digital Library.

The coat was given to the museum in 1942 by his great-grandson’s wife, Nina Graham Barnwell Heyward.

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

Saber
James Woolley, Deakin and Dutton
Birmingham, England
c. 1808

This 1796 pattern saber bears all the standard characteristics of post-Revolutionary war edged weapons of the British Light Cavalry. A direct result of their disastrous campaigns in Flanders during the earlier part of the decade, many cavalrymen looked to abandon their traditional, large-hilted, heavy swords in favor of something more simplistic. Swordsmiths working directly with British officers in 1795-6 produced these lighter, more efficient swords with single bar knuckle-bows (also known as a single stirrup hilt) and short, curved blades no longer than 31.5 inches with the last 6 inches to be sharpened on both sides. Furthermore, the blade’s concave groove (known as a fuller) runs nearly the entire length of the blade reducing its overall weight without compromising integrity and strength.

Of course, besides its utilitarian design, the sword still features a few noteworthy additions. The engraved blade, for example, includes the common Spanish motto in large script: No me saques sin razon (Draw me not without reason) on one side and No me enbaines sin honor (Sheath me not without honor) on the other. A far more curious alteration, however, appears on the knuckle-bow: a crude engraving reading “Gen. Marion, 1773.” This marking appears to be an unfortunate early 20th century attempt to mislead. Swords of this style were not even developed until 1796, and the firm of Woolley, Deakin and Dutton - whose mark is clearly stamped on the scabbard - was not operating under that name until approximately 1808.

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