Park Authority

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday

703-324-8702
TTY 711

12055 Government Center Pkwy.
Fairfax, Virginia 22035

Kirk Kincannon,
Executive Director

artiFACTS

The Fairfax County Park Authority’s Museum Collections are home to more than 5,000 museum objects (chairs, quilts, baskets, machines, clothing) ,
thousands of archival items (photographs, maps, letters and other documents), upwards of three million artifacts (archaeological discoveries such as spear points, pottery) . They are the stories of Fairfax County.

Decoration or Symbol of Resistance?

Decoration or Symbol of Resistance?During excavations in 2017, Fairfax County archaeologists recovered four refitting pieces of a decorated ceramic plate. After some research, laboratory archaeologists determined that the plate commemorated the 1802 Treaty of Amiens, which ended 1792-1802 hostilities between France and England stemming from the French Revolution.

This English-made ware was popular in the United States from 1802 until 1807, when President Thomas Jefferson instituted an embargo against the British. The artifact is somewhat odd, as the United States limited participation in the hostilities to primarily naval actions against the French in the West Indies during the “Quasi-War,” which had been settled prior to the Amiens treaty. Other examples of this plate have been recovered from excavations in the City of Alexandria, Virginia.

The location of the artifacts’ recovery is peculiar. They derived from a cellar hole on a site interpreted as slave quarters due to the recovery of other artifacts strongly associated with enslaved people. Perhaps the plate was handed down from the enslaver to the enslaved. Enslaved persons may have intentionally selected the plate for its decorative quality or for symbolic reasons. When whole, the scene depicts “Britannia” as the central figure. “Victory” is to her left holding a palm frond, historically a symbol of triumph and peace. To Britannia’s right would have been a depiction of France wielding the “Liberty Cap.” All figures are clad in Greco-Roman attire.

According to the website of the Architect of the Capitol, in the late 18th and 19th centuries, the Liberty Cap symbolized freedom from slavery. None other than then-Secretary of War, later President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis objected to its use in the architecture of the capitol building. Interestingly, the figure that would have held the Liberty Cap was not recovered. The symbolism contained within the decoration may indicate a deliberate choice by the enslaved and may have even served as a quiet, visual act of not only aspiration, but also resistance.

Other artiFacts

Fans Serve Double Duty for Cooling and Advertising
Fans Serve Double Duty for Cooling and Advertising
More Than Meets the Eye: The Rigg-Buckley House
More Than Meets the Eye: The Rigg-Buckley House
A 3D Experience from the Past
A 3D Experience from the Past
Turning the Dirt
Turning the Dirt
Before the Era of Prom-posals, there were Dance Cards
Before the Era of Prom-posals, there were Dance Cards
More Than Just a Pretty Face
More Than Just a Pretty Face
A Wintery Look at Historic Green Spring
A Wintery Look at Historic Green Spring
Mystery Metal Pieces Keep Archaeologists Guessing
Mystery Metal Pieces Keep Archaeologists Guessing
Mystery Metal Pieces Keep Archaeologists Guessing
Mystery Metal Pieces Keep Archaeologists Guessing
Poking into History with Straight Pins
Poking into History with Straight Pins
A Summer Wedding for Clark House's First Residents
A Summer Wedding for Clark House's First Residents
Innovative American Art Form Made Art more Affordable
A Thimble Sheds Light on the Lives of Women in History
Innovative American Art Form Made Art more Affordable
Innovative American Art Form Made Art more Affordable
Newspaper Discovery Shines Light on Suffragette Movement
Newspaper Discovery Shines Light on Suffragette Movement
Ellanor C. Lawrence Time Capsule
The Ellanor C. Lawrence Park Time Capsule
Dried Sediment Ready to be Examined
Glass Beads Provide Connection to Our Past
Frying Pan Meeting House Bible
Meeting House Bible
Tin Glaze Ceramics
Tin Glaze Ceramics
Lincoln Portrait
Lincoln Portraits Enjoyed Popularity in America’s Past
Staffordshire Slipware
The Origin of Staffordshire Slipware
Christmas Quilt
Christmas Quilt has Ties to Dranesville Tavern
Violin
Milling and Music in Fairfax County History
Hand-Wrought Nails
Hand-Wrought Nails in Early America
Family Gazette
Newspaper Provides Insight into Past Residents of Green Spring
Stoneware
Stoneware Offers Insights to Time Periods and Activities
Sully Car
Photo Prompts Cruise Down Memory Lane
Gun Flint
Gun Flint
Buttons
Buttons Attach us to History
Church Pew
Church Pew Offers Lesson on County’s Cultural and Racial History
Tobacco Pipe
White Clay Tobacco Pipe
Agate
An Agate & The Grange
Glass Fragments
Glass Fragments Provide a Window into the Past
Child’s Tea Set
A Child’s Tea Set
Colonial Hinge
Hand-wrought Colonial Hinge
Commencement Invitation
Floris Vocational High School Commencement Invitation
Colonial Padlock
Colonial Padlock
Silk Top Hat
Silk Top Hat
Tobacco Promotional Pipe
Lorillard’s Tobacco Promotional Pipe
Long-distance Education before the Internet
Long-distance Education before the Internet
Fire Screens
The Purpose of Fire Screens
Broken Glass
More Than Broken Glass
Sully Mirror
Reflections of History
Cryptic Note
Mysterious Object, Cryptic Note
Tobacco Pipe
Sully Tall Clock

 

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