… there’s an account over on the National Leather Collection blog.
IMOLC have recently discovered that they don’t own the collection of jacks, bombards and bottels that they’ve had on display in the old museum for the past 70 years. They have until the start of March to crowdfund £33000 otherwise the collection will be broken up and sold off. For details, see IMOLC’s blog post.
Watling Court Bombard in the MoL (Photo: MoL Blog)
The Watling Court Bombard was found, oddly enough, in a dig at Wattling Court. The London Archaeological Archive catalogue gives the dimensions as 240mm high and 150mm wide at the maximum point. Allowing for the handle, that makes it roughly about a two quarts (2.4l), or maybe a little larger. Period is given as 1066-1485 from the find context, from the shape of the body and handle, I’d put it at the later end of that range. A 15th century carving on the Buttery Hatch at New College (pictured in Baker on p91) is a good match. The shape is more globose than the ones I’ve done, but is the sort of shape that lends itself to use of the “puzzle mould” for shaping.
Puzzle mould for bombard, photo by Peter Adams
I haven’t been able to find any views of the base, so I can’t say how many layers there are between the base and the side. The back seam stitching up through the handle is missing and the welt piece has gone, but there must have been at least one layer in the handle and back as well.
Baker, Oliver, Black Jacks and Leather Bottells, 1925, privately published
The MoL line drawing is taken from
English Medieval Industries: Craftsmen, Techniques, Products edited by John Blair & Nigel Ramsay, A&C Black, 1991 p312
Holly pointed this one out tonight and I had to embloggen. It’s the leather bottle that Baker talks about on p182 as possibly one of the bottles used to collect the wine tax on the Thames.
This extraordinary bottle came from Chatham, where it had remained in the family of the owner for more than seventy years. It seems quite probable that if not actually one of the great black bottles of the Tower of London, in which the literary water-man of James I’s time was wont to exact dues in kind from every wine-laden ship that entered the Thames, it is one of those that succeeded them.
One side of it is enriched with fleur de lis raised in relief, and outlined with stamped stars, as shown in the sketch and in Plate 24. from which a faint idea of its size may be gained, by comparing it to the horn cup photographed with it.
Note the double stitching across the top , the rivets holding the metal cap and the quality of the stamping.
It’s also the inspiration for the first costrel I made. I obviously took too much time lining up the stamping. Nice to see the original weathered the 20th century so well.
I think I probably owe Holly an ale or two next time we’re in the UK as a spotter’s fee.
Here’s the link to the auction listing: Chorley’s – 10 to 11 October (lot 786).
Lot 786 Description
A gigantic leather bottle with bung hole and hinged iron cap embossed with fleur-de-lis and punched with star, 39cm x 35cm (15.25″ x 13.75″)
Provenance: The W J Fieldhouse Collection, Austy Manor, Wootton Wawen and by decent to vendor
Literature: Oliver Baker, Black Jacks and Leather Bottles, Cheltenham 1921, illustration plate 15 and plate 24, fig 67
A friend pointed this one out on the Internet and I had to share it and my musings.
This is a lovely piece and it’s really nice to have the dimensions. The person writing the catalogue entry probably honestly believed the bottle to be English based on the current location and of just an unusual form, optimistically dating it to the 17th century based on the patination and stitching.
I have a problem with the description: I think the bottle form is Arabic. You can see much earlier examples showing similar features here. If you look closely at the top, you can see a hole where a missing strap handle was attached. Similarly, there are a few stitches missing on the spout, it looks like the spout has been damaged and the leather trimmed to straighten it at some point.
I don’t like the date either. I’d be very surprised if it is earlier than 1850. It’s probably a souvenir of the Nile campaign of the 1890s, bought back by one of the soldiers. There’s a more complete example in the Museum of Lincolnshire Life in Lincoln that is firmly dated to that period and that provenance. It even has the same decoration. Here’s my photos (you knew this was coming, didn’t you…)
Three leather firebuckets at the top of the main stairs in Cawdor Castle, dating to the eighteenth century, later emblazoned with the lst Earl Cawdor’s coronet and monogram. Construction is riveted throughout and virtually identical to those at Cotehele House in Cornwall, HMS Victory and any number of other sites (including this). The top band and handle loops are metal, these buckets have a particularly fine paint job.
Here’s some more photos of the same buckets.
There’s a proverbial cow somewhere that’s starting to look nervous…
I’ve finally finished the first cut of the NMS photos. Here for your edification and viewing pleasure is the first lot of leather photos. I’ll do the skeletal materials photos in another post, and I’ve already done the leatherworker’s toolkit elsewhere. Click on them to embiggen if you want a closer view.
The full set of photos contain lots of stone and metalworking as well, I’ll also get the textiles and paint photos up in the Fullness of Time™.
Stone, bronze and iron age
Embossed and decorated leather chamfron panel, Newstead. 75-100AD
The one-piece shoe on the left is from Newstead (2nd C), the wooden last from Buiston and the two piece shoe from Iona (both 6-8th C). This is one of the problems with the NMS, they group similar items together even though there may be several centuries apart and from different cultures and imply a relationship between the objects that doesn’t necessarily exist.
Multi-part shoes, Newstead 2nd Century AD. There’s at least two and possibly three different styles of shoe here.
Multi-part shoes, Newstead 2nd Century AD. There’s some unrelated leather working tools on the top shelf.
British leatherworking tools. Knives from Cairnholly, Cleughhead, Luce Sands, Traprain Law and Camelon. 7500BC-900AD. At least the dates are fairly obvious on this set, even if it does cover nearly 8000 years. The shoe is from Newstead.
British leatherworking tools. Awls from Ruberslaw, Burrian, Druimvargie Cave, Foshigarry, Knop of Howar, MacArthur Cave, Skara Brae, Torran Dubh, Buiston and Newstead. 8500BC-900AD
Needles from Hillhead, West Grange of Conon and Laws of Monifieth. 300BC-800AD.
Leather shoes from the lead mining site at Sillerholes, West Linton, Peeblesshire. 13th to 14th century.
Leather belt pieces and bone awls with off-cuts from leatherworking, from Fast Castle, Berwickshire.
Leather shoe soles. The one on the right is a child’s size. 15-16th century.
Shoe sole detail, Tomb of Mary Queen of Scots. 1606-12. The cut in the sole for hiding the
welting [see comment below] sole stitches can be clearly seen.
Large bombard from the 17th century, four layers of leather in the handle, possible traces of red paint on the back edge. H.JS32.
I have some detail photos here.
Scottish Bollock Knives, 17th C
L: With gilt and engraved decoration indicating it belonged to the Master of Home. H.1991.1865.1
R: with scabbard and gilt and decoration on the blade, dated 1617. Scottish, probably Edinburgh. H.LC. 111a and b.
Note the diamond cross-section. Most earlier daggers of this type have triangular cross-section blades.