"Where ornament and function are so agreeably combined": Consumer choice studies of English ceramic wares at Hudson's Bay Company, Fort Vancouver

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Douglas V. Armstrong


Ornament, Consumer choice, English, Ceramic, Hudson's Bay Company, Fort Vancouver, Washington

Subject Categories

Archaeological Anthropology


Although this dissertation uses a consumer choice perspective (Spencer Wood 1987a) with historical and archaeological data from a mid-19 th century, ethnically diverse fur trade settlement, it presents a far more nuanced approach than that originally presented by Spencer Wood. By using specific, localized historical data in combination with a more widely used consumer choice index (Miller 1980), the approach taken in this dissertation discerns household differentiation along social class, ethnic, and gender lines. This research focuses on data from over 20,000 English-manufactured ceramic ware sherds excavated from archaeological households at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Vancouver, Washington. The study utilizes the concept of consumer choice in a setting and framework that effectively integrates the relationship between consumer behavior and goods consumption within a larger capitalist market economy. It expands upon this relationship, to the choices and preferences of the various socio-economic and job classifications represented by class and ethnic differentiated archaeological households, and occasionally even by individual occupants of households. Finally, this dissertation demonstrates the possibility of determining the choices and differences in consumer choice behavior between the male and female occupants of these structures. Examination of these phenomena affords a far more nuanced approach to consumer choice studies than projected by Spencer-Wood; in part because of the relative isolation of the setting and the formalized trading patterns of the Hudson's Bay Company. In addition, the well-documented spatial definition of the various ethnic groups living and working at Fort Vancouver provides a nearly ideal setting to explore a consumer choice perspective in relationship to the complexity of culture, class, and identity.


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