6/30/2021 | Mark Hanson, Curator
While working in the Ohio/Nine Gal Tavern collection recently, this tiny face peered out amongst the shards of crockery, china, and glass.
The Ohio (and later Nine Gal) tavern operated from about 1853 to 1860. Located near a crossing of the Sangamon River outside of Mahomet, travelers frequented the establishment. None other than Abraham Lincoln stayed there while riding the Eighth Judicial Circuit.
A team from Parkland College led by Lenville Stelle studied the site in the 1990s. Surface survey and excavation revealed a treasure trove of historic artifacts. Our figurine was among those artifacts later donated to the museum.
Likely made of Parian porcelain, this artifact dates to sometime after 1850. Parian porcelain was a cheap alternative to marble from the Greek island of Paros. Thus, it lent itself to sculptural pieces like busts and figurines but was not heavily glazed or colored. Our figure is a fragment from a larger work but looks good for being in the ground for a century or so.
One cannot help but wonder if this tiny face peered out at Lincoln all those years ago, too!