Portable Water and Food Ware Collection

These artifacts date from the seventh century B.C. to the present and illustrate progressions in the development of portable water and food containers, as well as related utensils and fire-making tools. In ancient times, water and food wares were fashioned from gourd, leather, wood, and baked clay. More recently, this list came to include wooden casks, horns, and pewter tableware in the eighteenth century; tin-dipped iron in the nineteenth century; aluminum canteens and mess kits during WWI; WWII-era stainless steel canteens and mess kits with caps and handles of bakelite (the first synthetic plastic); followed by the widespread use of plastics in the later decades of the twentieth century. Basic cutlery also evolved over the centuries from the use of flint to bronze, iron, pewter, tin-dipped iron, aluminum, stainless steel, and plastic. Fire-making tools followed a slower progression, from a vertical hardwood stick spun between the palms to create a friction fire in soft wood, to flint and iron pyrite used to spark a fire, followed by flint and steel, and finally, after 1826, the sulfur match.