Copper alloy book latch
Book Latch

This artifact is called a book latch. Based on its distinctive shape and designs, this artifact would have been made in Germany. It was recovered from the Confederate Fort, but it dates to the late 16th century. (The construction of the Confederate Fort disturbed and mixed James Fort deposits, so it is normal for archaeologists to find early artifacts in Confederate Fort contexts.)

This book latch is part of a larger group of artifacts called book hardware, which were both ornamental and protective. Latches were attached to book covers, and with the catch attached to the back of the book helped secure it in a closed position. In the 16th century, book covers were made of wood and contained vellum pages that would expand when they encountered moisture in the air. The metal latch and catch pieces would keep the books closed, and thus limit this expansion.