Commerce

Piece of EightPort Tobacco was a commercial town. It was the county seat and the business of the courts certainly was critical to the town's survival, but its raison d'etre was the business of business...buying and selling, exporting the products of the surrounding countryside and importing the manufactured goods of Europe, Asia, and other parts of North America, as evidenced by international currency found at Port Tobacco.

This silver coin (left) was produced in Spanish America. It was legal tender in the United States until 1857. This is a "piece of 8," meaning it is an eighth cut from a coin in order to make smaller change. This is the second coin found at Port Tobacco that has been cut in this manner. Click the image to see an intact coin of this type.

Of the scores of buildings that came and went on the town's landscape, most served--at least in part--commerce. Even the homes of Port Tobacco's residents often housed business ventures: Quenzel's jewelry store, Ridgate's mercantile, Swann's oyster house, and Stone's plantation, to name but four examples. The distinction that many Americans of the 21st century make between home and business simply didn't exist for most Marylanders of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Visitors should look at each of the surviving historic buildings in town and in the countryside as homes and businesses. Archaeologists and historians begin to understand the people whom they study when they put aside modern sensibilities and try to see the world as people of the past saw it. View each of these sites as if guided by one of their occupants.