Historians frequently employ probate inventories – list of possessions compiled after a person's death – to estimate standard of living. Because these inventories were taken by amateur assessors according to unwritten rules, they are sometimes unreliable. One way to check their accuracy is to compare them to archaeological records. A study of records from the state of Delaware in the eighteenth century found that while very few inventories listed earthenware, every excavation contained earthenware. Earthenware may have gone unlisted simply because it was inexpensive. But if it was so commonplace, why was it listed more often for wealthy households? Perhaps the more earthenware people had, the more likely appraisers were to note it. A few bowls could easily be absorbed into another category, but a roomful of earthenware could not.