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Ivor Noel Hume Bottle Collection

The Museum features a changing exhibit room where a temporary exhibit is featured. The current exhibit is the Renowned Ivor Noel Hume Bottle Collection. Respected archeologist and writer Ivor Noel Hume, retired “antiquarian” from Colonial Williamsburg, assembled over the course of his career a personal collection of some sixty bottles. He started collecting when examining archaeological digs in London. Those digs showed remains at different levels from the time of the Romans through the time of the great London Fire of 1666. Bottles, even broken bottle pieces, helped him date layers of materials found in the digs. He says the bottles also tell stories of the people during each time period. For example, he explains, a bottle with the seal of the Sun Tavern in London when Samuel Pepys visited the tavern opens up a whole period of history.

Frank and Barbara Hurst, owners of Newington Plantation in King and Queen County, the birthplace of Carter Braxton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, became interested in some of the same issues when he undertook an archaeological dig in connection with the remains of an old stone building dated to 1724 located at Newington. Because of his interest Hurst ended up meeting Noel Hume. When Hurst learned that Noel Hume was in the process of selling his collection, Hurst purchased it and has brought it intact to the King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum for this exhibition. The exhibit also includes (1) Noel Hume’s own written comments on the significance of each bottle, (2) a video presentation Noel Hume specially filmed at the King and Queen Museum for this exhibit, (3) items found at Newington, including a bowl dating to 1720-1740 made by early Virginia potter, William Rogers, and (4) a stone from the stone building dated 1724/3- with the initials GBI (for George Braxton 1, Carter Braxton’s grandfather).

One expert, recently commenting on Noel Hume’s collection, stated: “This is assuredly an assembly of objects demonstrating that enthusiasm for collecting can extend far beyond the Magpie instinct for mere acquisition. It is not simply a pile of random historic bones. It is the work of an expert anatomist who has constructed from it a cohesive skeleton and then provided the DNA that fleshed it out in ways that both inform and animate our history. To have dispersed it would have destroyed an important historical integrity. Ivor Noel Hume reports that the entire collection, along with its detailed history, is now in safe hands.” The Museum was especially honored to be chosen for the first public exhibition of this collection.