Atlas Obscura: Exploring America’s Largest Collection of Early Tavern Signs

May 19, 2016 · CHS in the News

Tavern Signs in Auditorium 2Luke Spencer from Atlas Obscura visited CHS and added the tavern sign collection to the ever-growing encyclopedia of curious places around the world.

“The early American colonists were ferocious drinkers. It’s thought that the average person back then inhaled around six gallons of booze a year, compared today’s average of two. Hot ale flips, warming wassails and planter’s punches were consumed in such alarming quantities that Benjamin Franklin published over 200 synonyms for being tipsy in the Pennsylvania Gazette on January 6th, 1737. “Gather’d wholly from the modern Tavern-Conversation of Tiplers,” he wrote, “I do not doubt but that there are many more in use.”

Such was the standing of the tavern in the fledgling society, that colonial law actually required every town to have one. In low-ceilinged rooms, the early colonials would gather and, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, start the evening “loose in the hilts,” gradually becoming “nimptopsical,” finishing the night “wamble Crop’d,” before stumbling home “right before the Wind with all his Studding Sails out.”

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