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The fully renovated, brand-spanking-new Delaware History Museum finally gives the Delaware Historical Society a worthy space to display many of the small wonders it has been collecting since 1864. We asked Jennifer Potts, DHS curator of objects, to tell us more about four that fascinated us on our visit:

The flag of the First Delaware: “That's certainly one of the earliest known uses of the seal [of Delaware] in a public context. This flag was carried by the First Delaware at the Battle of Antietam, where it was almost lost to the other side. It continued to be carried on through Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and at Gettysburg as well. The men of the First Delaware were given the chance to re-up, and if they chose to re-up they got a month-long furlough back in Wilmington. This furlough was in January of 1864, which is when they returned to Wilmington with the flag. If you look, you can see how many holes and tears are going on in it. At that point, the regiment, in order to put its best face forward, received new flags and the flags that it had were retired. They were taken care of by a veterans group, the Association of the Survivors of the First Delaware Volunteer Regiment. They had the flags until 1884, and then they gave them to us.”

The Civil War-era lottery wheel: “That was a wheel that was used in all three counties toward the end of the war, when they thought they might need still more troops. After volunteer recruitment had failed to provide the sufficient numbers, they decided to run a draft. The last draft in Wilmington was held at Old Town Hall on Feb. 20, 1865. We have the tickets that originally went along with it as well, from the Sussex County lottery draw. They have the names of lots of different people from Sussex County, everybody from slaves to farmers – 99 people who weren't actually selected who were still in the wheel.”

Cross section of a spacewalk suit: “It's basically a cross section of all DuPont's highest-end, cutting-edge synthetic fabrics of the time that were used to make the Apollo 11 spacesuit – all kinds of things that they probably don't even make anymore. It showcases the Teflon and Nylon, which were known for their ability to resist abrasions. You don't want anything in the vacuum of space puncturing your suit.”

Diamond State Brewery tray: “The tray is from circa 1910-20, the heyday of the brewing company. The Diamond State Brewery was started in Wilmington in 1859. They started initially with a small brewery on King Street, at the back of a tavern owned by Joseph Stoeckle. Initially the brewery was to supply the tavern, but then the business grew and grew and he was pretty successful. Eventually, he grew the company to the point where, by 1882, they moved out of the King Street Tavern and built this giant brewing complex in the area of 5th and Adams streets. You wouldn't recognize anything. It's all houses now. But it was a very large brewing complex in that area until 1926, when it went out of business because of Prohibition. There was a post-Prohibition attempt to revive the Stoeckle Brewing Company, but it closed its doors for the last time in Wilmington in 1955.”

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