The Dollarware Project
The Dollarware Project is a collaborative research project emerging out of student scholarship in the course 'Archaeological Methods' (Anthropology, McGill University), led by Prof. Stephen Chrisomalis. Dollarware - ceramic vessels that are intended for humans to drink out of and cost $1.00 or less - sheds light on social and economic processes in contemporary industrial societies and, like all material culture, reflects the values, interests, and needs of its makers and users. The Dollarware Project is the first and to date only systematic scholarly examination of this ubiquitous and fascinating aspect of North American material culture, and is intended to contribute to the scholarly literature in historical and contemporary archaeology, material culture studies, and archaeological ceramic analysis.

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Research Sites

In February 2008, 289 vessels were collected from 13 dollar stores throughout the island of Montreal, as well as one second-hand store (as a comparative control). The artifacts were then brought to the archaeology laboratory at McGill University for analysis and interpretation. Click on the links below to see the field sites and the artifacts collected at each site.

Artifact Data

Site A: Varieté Dollar Depot Site Photos Artifact Gallery
Site B: Le Même Prix Plus Site Photos Artifact Gallery
Site C: Luxe du Dollar Site Photos Artifact Gallery
Site D: Destination Dollar Site Photos Artifact Gallery
Site E: Dollar Queen Mary Site Photos Artifact Gallery
Site F: Dollarama Site Photos Artifact Gallery
Site G: Mini Marché Beaverhall Site Photos Artifact Gallery
Site H: Saaed Dollar Plus Site Photos Artifact Gallery
Site I: Meilleur Prix $1+ Site Photos Artifact Gallery
Site J: Maison Dollar Site Photos Artifact Gallery
Site K: Mini Max Site Photos Artifact Gallery
Site L: Le Monde du Dollar Site Photos Artifact Gallery
Site M: Taty Site Photos Artifact Gallery
Site N: Village des Valeurs
(Comparative Collection)
Site Photos Artifact Gallery

Research Reports

Stephen Chrisomalis

Section 1: Quantitative experimental ceramic archaeology

Heat Retention in Ceramic Dollarware Vessels: What We Need More Of Is Science
Lars Anderson and Elizabeth Penttila

Statistical Breakthrough or Numerical Nonsense? The logic and utility behind a Vessel Volume Index in studying Dollarware
Claudine Gravel Miguel and Dario Guiducci

Going with the Flow: Determining the Most Ideal and Average Drinking Vessel
Andrea Wong

Section 2: What do you get for a buck? Dollarware in its economic context

The economics of dollarware
Andre Bourgoin-Horne

The Dollarware Cultural Tradition: An examination of the connection between ideography, low-quality drinking vessels, and the globalization of consumption and production
David Groves

Knock-Offs: The Potential for Aesthetic Emulation in Dollar Store Mugs
Emma Johnson
Appendix: Comparative Data

Distributing Dollarware: Tracing Dollarware Mug Types to their Importers and Distributors
Bridget Sandison

Ceramic Drinking Vessels in Dollarama, Other Dollar Stores, and Value Village: A Comparison
Yujing Wang
Appendix: Statistical Data and Boxplots

The Antics of ‘Touristique’ Ceramic: An Examination of Low-Priced Tourist- Oriented Mugs from Dollar Stores in Montréal
Sîan Wilson

Section 3: Getting a handle on dollarware

Getting a grip: the question of dollarware handle design
Sarah Bedard

Has God Signed My Dollar Store Mug? The search for aesthetic ratios in the relationship between body and handle in assemblages of dollarware drinking vessels
Gabriel Kravitz

How much is a dollar really worth? The practical and aesthetical values of dollarware
Carly Rose

Section 4: Paint by numbers: Dollarware iconography versus morphology

Gender and Dollarware: An examination of gender and its relationship to the weight, volume, height, the presence of writing and the number of colours on discount ceramic drinking vessels
Jess Beck

Stereotypes and Lost Youth: Age Iconography on Dollarware
Sol Klein

Study of contemporary ceramic cups: Shape and iconography
Han Han Li

Section 5: Dollarware as art and as emblem

Animal Mugs: an exploration of animal images on ceramic vessels
Emma Chait
Appendix: Mosaic Imagery

Relationship between the Thematic Function and Message of Dollarware Vessels and their Iconographic Motif and Coloration
Valeria Rytova

Did 21st century man comprehend the cyclical nature of the year?: a study of holidays in Dollarware ceramics
Anna Titcomb
Appendix: Site Map

THE MR MAROR TO BE JOLLY LA LA LA LA LA: An investigation of writing (and gibberish) on Dollarware
Katherine Tong

Section 6: Are we wrong about Dollarware?

The Dollarware Project Sample: Questioning the Representative Value of Our Artefacts
Lisa Zimanyi
Appendix: Revisit Data

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