Lead Comes Clean
Lead Comes Clean and Reveals Date
Sometimes artifacts yield more than hints. Sometimes they come out and scream vital information. The pieces of lead that hold the small diamond-shaped panes of glass together to form large windows, can tell great stories. In St. Mary’s City, these small pieces of lead are helping researchers plan the reconstruction of the Print House, where the first printing press in the southern British colonies operated.
The lead channels seen in cross section have an “H” shape. When they were manufactured some 300 years ago, lead was passed through a glazier’s vice, which created the final profile. During this process the inside of the channel was often impressed with a maker’s mark which identified the manufacturer and the date. After three centuries in the ground, the marks on the lead recovered at the Print House site were only visible after a relatively elaborate conservation process to remove the corrosion and open the channel. The dates revealed the sequence of renovations made to the building. With this knowledge, researchers can determine what the building must have looked like at one point in time.