Recent Acquisitions

For a complete listing of our collections visit our database at

Bartlet Powder Horn.jpg

Bartlett Powder Horn

Cow horn
Museum Purchase with Funds Generously Donated by Elizabeth Stillinger in Memory of William H. Guthman, 2015.37.

This powder horn, which was made and engraved by its owner, Nathaniel Bartlett of Plymouth, Massachusetts, in the second year of the French and Indian War, depicts a lion wearing a crown, two soldiers dueling above a horse, and a fantastic mask with rosette terminal. Aside from documenting the work of a carver, the horn is important because it is accompanied by a rare woven military sash inscribed “NATHANIEL BARTLETT/OCTOBER 19 1771,” which was sold separately at the Guthman auction in 2006. The two are now reunited at Historic Deerfield.


Notebooks and Journals

Epaphras Hoyt (1765-1850)
Deerfield, Massachusetts, 1820-1849
Wove paper, ink
Partial funding provided by Margaret E.C. Howland, Ann Lord, and Deborah Dearborn.

The acquisition of a group of notebooks and journals kept by Epaphras Hoyt (1765-1850) during the period 1820-1849, has greatly expanded our knowledge of his many activities. Born in the Old Indian House, he became a leader in town and county affairs. Beyond holding numerous offices such as Postmaster, Justice of the Peace, and Sheriff of Franklin County, he represented Deerfield in the Massachusetts Assembly, taught at Deerfield Academy, worked as a surveyor, served as a general in the Massachusetts militia, and published on military theory and New England history. Hoyt was an avid reader and commented on a remarkable range of mathematical, scientific, and historical matters. A keen observer of regional and national events, he held strong political views and frequently wrote at length on the important issues of the day, including the Mexican War, education, Freemasonry, and the antislavery movement. His writings display an impressive vocabulary and vigorous intellect that set him apart from many of his peers and made him, in the words of Deerfield’s town historian George Sheldon, “a man of affairs.”



Probably New England, 1775-1800
John W. and Christiana G.P. Batdorf Fund, 2015.35

Introduced into the American colonies around 1730, Freemasonry achieved great popularity after the American Revolution. Enthusiasm for this fraternal society grew alongside interest in the
intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment and new theories on equality. Jewelry as well as other regalia played an important role in Masonic rituals and ceremonies. The symbols engraved on this medal are primarily drawn from the manual tools of stonemasons, such as the square and compass, the level and plumb rule, and the trowel. This medal also makes use of the pigpen or Masonic cipher, a simple geometric substitution code, which replaces each letter of the alphabet with a different symbol. The inscriptions translate as “I AM WHAT I AM” (1 Corinthians 15:10), and “LET THERE BE LIGHT AND THERE WAS LIGHT” (Genesis 1:3). This silver medal descended in the Putnam family of Connecticut and may have been owned by General Israel Putnam (1718-1790) of Pomfret.

Table Desk.jpg

Table Desk

Probably Springfield, Massachusetts, ca. 1690
Sugar maple, yellow pine, white pine, iron
Museum Purchase with partial funds given in memory of Lawrence L. Wagenseil, 2016.16

This unique form, a table-desk, retains its original iron hardware and wooden pulls, and traces of its original surface. It is a particularly important acquisition for Historic Deerfield because it was once owned by Reverend Jonathan Ashley’s (1712-1780) contemporary, Puritan minister Reverend Nehemiah Bull (1701-1740), who also lived in Westfield. In fact, Ashley may well have known the table-desk 300-plus years ago that now sits in his Deerfield house! One of the drawers bears the signature of Nehemiah Bull, which is verified through comparison with those on Bull’s day book in the collection of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association. Reverend Bull was the father of Deerfield blacksmith and gunsmith John Partridge Bull (1731-1813).

Glazed Sconce.jpg

Glazed Sconce

Probably Salem, Massachusetts
Walnut, glass, brass
Hall and Kate Peterson Fund for Minor Antiques, 2016.2

This glazed sconce is inscribed on the reverse in ink: “Samuel Barnard/Born 1684/Died at Salem, Mass/1762.” It is walnut-veneered with its original glass and brass socket. Samuel Barnard (1684-1762) lived in Deerfield and survived the 1704 raid. In 1718 he married Sarah Williams (1695-1720). After his wife’s death, he moved to Salem where he became a successful merchant. After his death in 1762, Samuel Barnard left money in his will for the purchase of a silver tankard to be given to the First Church of Deerfield in his memory. His nephew Joseph Barnard of Deerfield purchased
the tankard for the Church. The tankard was made by Paul Revere and it and its bill of sale are owned by Historic Deerfield (respectively 97.60.5 and 77.051).

Message Horn.jpg

Message Horn (cap missing)

Northeastern United States or Canada, 1750-1800
Cow horn
Gift of Ann du Mont Lord and Suzanne du Mont Alexander in memory of John S. du Mont, 2015.38.

While most horns engraved like this example with fish and scrolls were used to store gunpowder, this one—only a little over 5” long—was made watertight and carried in a pocket or bag with the purpose of conveying messages. Its brass nails might otherwise have been used in 18th-century upholstery. The owner, “WV,” is now anonymous but we might imagine him carrying an important dispatch to Wolfe or Washington during the French and Indian War or the American Revolution!