Recent Acquisitions

Bariffe's Artillery title page.

Myles Standish's inventory, dated December 2, 1656, includes a book called "Bariffes artillery." The museum now has a copy of this book, published in 1647 in London. The full title of William Bariffe's book is Militarie Discipline: or, The Young Artillery Man. VVherein is Discoursed and Shown the Postures both of Musket and Pike the Exactest way, &c. Together with the Exercise of the Foot in their Motions, with much variety: As also, diverse and severall Formes for the Imbatteling small or greater Bodies, demonstrated by the number of a single Company, with their Reducements: very necessary for all such as are Studious in the Art Millitary, Whereunto is also added the Postures and Beneficiall Vse of the Halfe-Pike joyned with the Musket. With the way to draw up the Swedish Brigade. As also, MARS his Triumph. Besides the interesting typography of the numerous diagrams showing troop positions, our copy has an author's portrait and separate armorial page etched by Wenzel Hollar.

The New Testament title page.

THE GENEVA TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE, 1615 was translated by English Protestant exiles in Geneva during the reign of Queen Mary Tudor. The museum has now acquired a copy from the 1615 London edition.The Geneva Bible is also known as the "Breeches Bible" because of its unusual translation in Genesis 3:7 - "Then the eyes of them both were opened, and they knewe that they were naked, and they sewed figtree leaues together, and made themselues breeches." The Geneva translation was preferred by the Pilgrims, especially in contrast to the King James Version, because of its marginal explanations. Our copy is bound with the rhymed psalms of Sternhold and Hopkins, including the music for the psalm tunes.

A map showing Plymouth and New England in the 17th century.

SEUTTER'S MAP OF NOVI BELGII, 1740 was engraved and first published in 1730, but its information for New England is derived from the famous Jansson-Visscher maps of New England first issued in 1651. Mattaeus Seutter's version is the first to show the boundaries of Massachusetts, New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania; but examination shows that the geographic information of interior locations is about a hundred years out-of-date, while the information for Plymouth Colony is about right for what was known in Europe ca. 1630. A major feature of importance is the visual depiction of animals and of Native American houses, which, together with the names of Indian tribes makes it possible to imagine the earliest settlers' conception of the vast land and its inhabitants when they first began their villages along the coast. Matthaeus Seutter was born in Augsburg in 1678. He was appointed Imperial Geographer in 1731.He died in 1757. Our acquisition of this important map was made possible by a very generous gift.

A grey Westerwald stoneware jug.

A WESTERWALD JUG now sits on our table. Grey and blue stoneware pottery from Germany - Westerwald ware - was shipped down the Rijn (Rhine) River and sold in large quantities in The Netherlands. Some pieces were made specially for the Dutch market, including, for example, the coat-of-arms of Amsterdam. The Leiden American Pilgrim Museum has exhibited examples of such Westerwald pottery since the museum's opening. Fragments of Westerwald pottery have been found in Plymouth excavations (the Eel River site, known as RM), as well as in Martin's Hundred in Virginia and in the Dutch colony of New Netherland. The Leiden American Pilgrim Museum has recently acquired a Westerwald jug that incorporates design elements like those in the Plymouth fragement. Our jug is very similar to the Virigina example, which is illustrated in Ivor Noel Hume's Martin's Hundred, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982, ill. 7-4. Our newly acquired pot is shown next to a wooden plate, a coopered beer mug, and a knife, all ca. 1600.

A Great Screw. Height of block: 24", extendable to 36".

A Great Screw

Come to the museum and discover what a real great screw is!

William Bradford recalled the furious Atlantic storm that broke the main beam of the "Mayflower" in her voyage to New England in 1620. Fearing leaks, Master Christopher Jones and his crew inspected the hull by candlelight, rib by rib and plank by plank. Reassuring the Pilgrims, they "affirmed they knew the ship to be strong & firm under water; and for the buckling of the main beam, there was a great iron screw the passengers brought out of Holland, which would raise the beam into his place; the which being done, the carpenter & master affirmed that with a post put under it, set firm in the lower deck, & otherwise bound, he would make it sufficient. And as for the decks & upper works they would caulk them as well as they could, and though with the working of the ship they would not longe keep stanch, yet there would otherwise be not great danger, if they did not overpress her with sails. So they committed themselves to the will of God, & resolved to proceed."

The Great Iron Screw inspired a myth that has entered Pilgrim historiography with almost unconquerable persistence. J. Rendel Harris asked in 1922, "what the emigrants were doing with a great iron screw. It would have been one of the last things a company of exiles would have laden themselves with." But he turns the question around, to ask why the Pilgrims had owned such a screw in Holland, since they "were not likely to have secured it as a new acquisition when they were departing." For Harris, "The answer is obvious; it was part of the printing press, which the Leyden authorities had not carried off. There was no object in leaving it in Leyden; the two printers on board the ship (Brewster and Winslow) might have been reluctant to part with it. Perhaps they even thought that in a few years' time they would be able to import some type, and begin once more their civil and spiritual propaganda. It is certainly curious, this story of the great screw, and, up to the present, has never been elucidated." [...] The idea that the Pilgrims took a printing press to America in 1620 was thus born in Harris's imaginings inspired by the anniversary year 1920 and first published in 1922. [...] Quite a different answer can be given to Harris's rhetorical question (what were the emigrants doing with a great iron screw). Joseph Moxon, in his book Mechanick Exercises (first published 1678-1680) describes all the tools used in "house-carpentry." He remarks, "There are also some Engines used in Carpentry, for the management of their heavy Timber, and hard Labour, viz, the Jack, the Crab, to which belongs Pullies and Tackle, &c. Wedges, Rowlers, great Screws, &c." The term "great screw" thus referred to a particular tool. Needed in the construction of a home, a Great Screw could raise the roof, as Moxon informs us. [excerpted from Bangs, Strangers and Pilgrims, Travellers and Sojourners pp. 607-609]"

Grimestone - Petit, A Generall Historie of the Netherlands London, 1608.

Generall History from 1608

The museum collections have also been enriched with Edward Grimestone's English translation of Petit's A Generall Historie of The Netherlands, published in London in 1608. William Bradford mentions this book (even citing the particular page number) as the source for information about the Dutch law establishing civil marriage, which the Pilgrims adopted in the laws of Plymouth Colony. This was the first step towards legal separation of church and state. Our copy (on long-term loan) is the only known example in Holland.