The Journal of Philadelphia Waterfront Heritage & Archaeology

Current Issue: Volume 1 2016

Gardening Under Glass

By Mary Mills

AECOM archaeologists recovered this free-blown bell-shaped glass artifact during excavations along I-95 in the Kensington-Fishtown section of Philadelphia. Its shape and size indicate two possible uses. Holding the opening downward gives it the form of a bell-glass, also called a garden bell or cloche. In the opposite position, it could be the shade of a lighting device, which would have been fitted with a metal armature and suspended by chains. Although the proportions of the glass are appropriate for a shade and the shape of the knob is correct for a metal fitting, it is likely the artifact was actually used as a bell-glass because it shows considerable wear along the flared rim. Also, it is made of unrefined aquamarine window or bottle glass. Most lamp shades of this period, including those found in the same feature, are colorless lead glass. Such shades were being blown at Union Glass Works, located directly across the street from where this artifact was found.