Over the years there were many a novice collector who ventured into the field where the first glass factory once operated, to try their luck at finding that authentic Wistarburgh treasure. Of all these feeble efforts, there is not one piece of recorded data, and none of the shards removed are available for others to study. This was the first fully recorded excavation of the Wistarburgh Glass Factory.
An archeological dig was performed in June 1998 at the site of the Eighteenth Century Glass Manufactory known as Wistarburgh. The dig was an investigatory excavation performed by Hunter Research of Trenton NJ. Bill Liebeknecht was the on-site archeologist. This effort was sponsored by the Wheaton Museum of American Glass in Millville NJ, and funded by donations. There were two trench holes and two dozen shovel holes dug at the site of the glass factory of many years ago. The goal of the dig was to see if there was anything significant remaining, like foundations or furnaces. To locate the places to dig, Timothy Bechtel of Enviroscan Inc., Lancaster, PA, was contracted to do a geophysical survey of the area with a magnetometer. This instrument identifies differences in the earth�s magnetic field, and locates them with a computer using GPS, which is the satellite tracking system, and also using the Coast Guard radio beacon system. This magnetic scan, showing high spots of magnetism, is combined with a scaled drawing to locate the identified spots on the ground.
Tim Bechtel equipped with the Magnetometer is walking the area of the Wistarburgh Glass Works.
Foundations or bricks that have seen high heat can cause hot spots of
The magnetic scan did a great job.
To show the accuracy of the magnetic scan, one isolated high spot, where
a shovel hole was dug on triangulation measurements, located a piece of re-bar
in the hole. The
re-bar was of no value other than an impressive showing of the magnetic scan
was a wall and footer of limonite found in one of the trench holes and brick
flooring was found in a trench and in several shovel holes.
There was enough found to confirm the site of the glass works and that
there is still foundation underground.
They also found furnace brick, an ash pile, pot fragments, a cullet pile
and possibly the sand source nearby.
The mag scan produced by Tim Bechtel. The apparent bumps in the scan are the hot spots of magnetism. The group of spots in the center identify the location of the glass furnace. The dotted lines are the fence lines.
A full report of this archeological dig by Hunter Research along with all the artifacts can by studied at the Museum of American Glass, Wheaton Village, in Millville, NJ.
An exhibit from the Hunter Research Report showing some of the different bottle closures found at excavation site of the Wistarburgh Glass Factory.
The crew from Hunter Research at the site of the Wistarburgh Glass Factory in 1998.
The report was very positive about the Wistarburgh site and will give a large boost to any further efforts to be considered. In the opinion of Hunter Research, �Wistarburgh holds the potential to be one of the most important historical archaeological sites in the State of New Jersey�. The report summary states, �In addition to the great number of glasshouse-related artifacts recovered, shallow limonite foundations and a possible brick floor surface were encountered during the course of these investigations, suggesting that physical remains of the glasshouse, itself, may survive�. Keep in mind that these excavations were very minimal, but were guided by the �mag scan�. The report also suggests additional physical testing to possibly locate the sites of some 20 other buildings that are listed, in the factory sales ad, as part of the factory and the company, which also supplied homes for the workers.
The Hunter Research report contains sections on Introduction, Historical
Overview, Field Investigations, Artifact Analysis, and Recommendations.
In the appendices are the Remote Sensing Report (magnetic scan), Summary
of Subsurface Testing, and Artifact Inventories.
All of the excavated artifacts are listed but only a few are pictured.
The Introduction touches on the previous research of Wistarburgh.
It mentions the lack of attribution
of glass to Wistarburgh.
The Historical Overview discusses briefly the background of Casper
Wistar and the German Glass Blowers.
It also provides drawings of period glass furnaces and ends with thoughts
of the cause for the demise of the 43 year business (1739 to 1782).
The Field Investigations include the procedures of the dig, along
with other tests and observations.
It presents drawings of the two test trenches and describes the findings.
The Artifacts Analysis section
pictures some of the pertinent artifacts in color and a few others in black and white.
There is a page of the different types of
bottle finishes found. It
discusses the types of glass found and presents a bar graph of the number of
artifacts found in type ( flat or vessel ) and color.
The graph shows that the most were flat glass
in pale green (2277 items).
This fact implies a very large business of window panes at the glass
works. The section also talks about kiln ceramics and domestic
ceramics that were found.
This report preserves the efforts and artifacts of this dig of a
historical 18th century glass works for future research.
Back To Main Page