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Welcoming Spring with The Drayton Hall Collection’s Crab and Coin

Archaeology, Collections

drayton hall best museum collection to see charleston, sc

At Drayton Hall, Charleston’s beautiful spring is in full swing. Tours of the main house and musuem galleries  are once again being enjoyed by people from all over: a welcome change from this past of quiet related to CO-VID19. For the arrival of spring at Drayton HAll, Conde Nast Traveler’s best place to visit in South Carolina, Drayton Hall’s Collections is sharing this timely shard of history:

As the Lowcountry prepares for the arrival of softshell crab season, we turn to the archaeological collection to highlight the colonial fascination with this crustacean. Found in the Drayton Hall South Flanker well context, this Imari-style “Crab and Coin” Chinese-export porcelain dates from c. 1700-1760 and originated in Jingdezhen, China. The decoration on this plate fragment was a popular choice amongst English colonists in the North American colonies undoubtedly because of the abundance of crabs found in the waters of the coastal Atlantic Ocean. The symbolism of the crab and coin, however, held much meaning in Chinese iconography. The crab symbolizes harmony as well as the passing of a civil service examination in Chinese society, the coin indicates wealth, and the peony, which is considered the king of flowers in China, represents high ranking. Taken together, the symbolism represents the wish of wealth and high status for the recipient. While likely a purely aesthetic choice of John Drayton (1715-1779) for Drayton Hall, his collection of Chinese-export porcelains further illustrates his ability to keep up with the changing tastes of the 18th century, purchase the finest porcelains from China, and is a reminder of the wealth he amassed as a result of profiting on the enslavement of Africans to produce cattle, indigo, and rice for his financial advancement. Be sure to stop by the Stephen F. and Laura D. Gates Gallery on your next visit to Drayton Hall to view this and many more artifacts on display.

Every visit to Drayton Hall includes all the site has to offer: Three museum galleries, the Drayton Hall video, the main house tour and a historic walking tour which you can self guide as well as access to the African American Cemetery, a most important and sacred place. Plan your visit to Drayton Hall here.

Above: Copyright restricted image: Drayton Hall Collection.