|Current Exhibit February 26 to August 31, 2013|
|THE WORK OF PLAY:
Where Business and Leisure Meet
do you spend your free time? Watching the game, some retail therapy,
drinks with friends, or maybe just catching up on the latest thriller.
While it may seem like these activities are far removed from the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, they in fact have a lot in common
with how Americans would have spent their leisure time back then. And
just as professional sports, fashion and book publishing are massive
industries today that support thousands of jobs, leisure activities in
the past centuries also supported many jobs. |
Work and play, business and leisure have long been intertwined, each helping to support the other. Come and see just how closely they meet in the areas of Fashion, Toys & Games, Print Culture, Music and Taverns.
|From Wig to Boot: Fashion as Leisure in the Mid-Atlantic|
Upper class women and men in eighteenth and nineteenth century America actively pursued high fashion. These men and women of leisure were actively assisted by hair dressers, dress makers, mantua makers, hat makers, shoemakers, and ladies’ maids (among others) who made their living in the early fashion industry
A lady or lady’s maid would be able to use hair brushes, hand mirrors and hair combs in order to achieve high style in the nineteenth century. These pieces were designed to be as beautiful to use as they were to wear.
|From Authors to Zoetrope: The Toys and Games of America|
While the Puritans may have influenced our work ethic, the Southerners influenced our play ethic. Since the Colonial period, Americans have long enjoyed playing games, within moderation of course. The Sabbath had to be kept, excessive gambling was a sign of bad character, and chores came before play. Yet children still managed to play. Card and dice games flourished and taverns saw gaming on an unprecedented level. While still frowned upon these games were more acceptable for grown men to play. As American manufacturing developed games that were deemed socially acceptable to play on the Sabbath and developed a market for family games, we see the emergence of board games for both children and adults. The late nineteenth century was the beginning of what would be a booming American board game industry based on European and South East Asian games.
|Motion pictures had their earliest start in the zoetrope. When a specially illustrated length of paper is placed inside the cylinder and the cylinder is spun, anyone viewing through the slits near the top will see a short animated picture.|
|Parcheesi, which is based on an Indian game, was the first board game to be considered socially acceptable to play on the Sabbath, because it did not involve wagering. By the late nineteenth century it had many imitators.|
|Bibles, Bookkeeping & Botanical Prints: The Story of American Print Culture in the Mid-Atlantic|
Americans had a high literacy rate and participated in the
Trans-Atlantic print culture while also beginning to develop their own
unique print culture that would bloom during the nineteenth century
with advancements in the printing press. In the eighteenth and
nineteenth centuries, books and other printed material provided
enlightenment, education and entertainment.|
Religious works were very popular in early America. Not only limited to the Bible, this area also included essays on religious doctrine, stories of virtue and religious perseverance, and biographies of famous religious figures. Many of these books include beautiful illustrations.
|Music: From the Parlor to the Stage|
Imagine not being able to listen to music on demand, having to wait for a concert, or produce the music yourself. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that was how everyone lived. There were no musical recordings; everything was live. At the same time, you could find music in more places: parades, church services, both amateur and professional concerts, dances, even your own home.
|Taverns: Games, Gossip and Gin|
|The tavern was a place to rest, to drink, to game, and to socialize. Originally meant as a stop for travelers along busy routes where they would be able to get a hot meal and a place to stay the night, taverns often became the center for male social activity in the community. While women were not strictly outlawed from taverns (in fact records reveal female tavern owners) most women who entered taverns were employees working as cooks or maids. They rarely stayed as patrons or participated in the social activities.|
|Tavern owners had to keep large quantities of liquor on hand for possible guests. In New Jersey, libations would have included hard cider, rum, scotch, gin, even some wine. Most tavern visitors, though, favored rum or hard cider which was both plentiful and inexpensive.|
|The Work of Play catalog features three essays that explore the
exhibit themes: |
"Working Men's Clothes in New Jersey, 1750-1825," by Tyler Rudd Putman
"For Drink, Rest and Business: Understanding the Use of Space in Morris County Taverns," by Siobhan Fitzpatrick
"Circles within Circles: The Commercial Pursuit of Leisure Time and Morality through Board Games in the 18th and 19th Century United States," by Drew Chappell, PhD.
The catalog is now available for ordering online through the following links:
PRINTED EDITION KINDLE EDITION
|Our Orphan to Apprentice catalog is still available.|
Authored by Siobhan R. Fitzpatrick, Carol Singley PhD, and Diane Marano JD, this exhibit catalog explores in depth various aspects of the practice of indenting or binding out of orphaned and indigent children. Forced apprenticeship, as the practice is also known, existed from the colonial period through the mid-nineteenth century and was practiced all along the Eastern Seaboard.
PRINTED EDITION KINDLE EDITION
©2013 Museum of Early Trades & Crafts