By Jacqueline Mazzone
I had a wonderful time at the Collectors’ Day event at the Hammond-Harwood House. The event was on Sunday, November 15, but I arrived on Saturday to check into the Flag House Inn and explore Annapolis. The Inn was lovely nineteenth-century building right in the heart of downtown Annapolis, just across the street from the Naval Academy. Scott, who was the other scholarship recipient, and I went over to the museum in the afternoon. We saw the small exhibition space adjacent to the entrance, then went on a tour of the house. It was an informative introduction to the history of the Hammond-Harwood House and of Annapolis.
To remain socially distant, we attended the lectures online from the Inn in the morning. There were three lectures, followed by a questions period. All three lectures were very informative and interesting. Rod Cofield gave a solid introduction to taverns in the Chesapeake region, breaking the general conception that all taverns were large, affluent establishments. He provided examples of some smaller taverns and what was served in them, showing the value of court cases in studying the more commonplace events of history. Joyce White examined gaming in the private setting, discussing the definition of a rout. She used her expertise in food history to learn about what types of food were served at a rout, most importantly a type of food made specifically for the event called rout cakes. Finally, Kenneth Cohen drew fascinating connections between the popularity of horse racing and its effect on American politics in the nineteenth century.
After a break for lunch, we met up at the museum with the curator, two of the speakers, and the scholarship donor, Frances Harwood, for a tour of the numerous gaming tables throughout the house. Many were made by prominent cabinetmaker John Shaw, and Rachel Lovett, the curator of the museum, explained the details, such as fine, detailed inlays and choice mahogany veneers, that makes furniture pieces identifiable to him. There were also a few other examples of English, New England, and Virginia gaming tables. One that stood out to me was an English table with an unusual way for the legs to swing out to accommodate the tabletop when opened, called a concertina hinge.
Following the tour, we had small, socially distanced reception that included a lovely box of different style rout cakes, all made by Joyce White. A delicious end to a great day!
Many thanks to The Hammond-Harwood House Museum and to Frances N. Harwood, who graciously provided the scholarship for my attendance through the Glenn Harwood Memorial Scholarship. It was a fantastic weekend, and I learned so much about Annapolis and its history, as well as the culture of gaming in the Chesapeake and early America.