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Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 11:31 am
by Clarenceboy
Just wondering if anyone knows if there is any evidence for turned wooden mugs, coopered wooden mugs or birch bark boxes in England in the 15th century?
I have had a look round the net and found plenty of people selling them but cant find any origional sources. Personally I quite like the look of them and just wondered if they were right or not.

To give you an idea of what I'm talking about here is a link to a couple of sites selling the bits
http://www.homeindhoven.nl/winkel/index ... dt9kcak060
http://www.woodbarrels.co.uk/shop/categ ... _Beer_Mugs

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 11:54 am
by Brother Ranulf
Birchbark containers depend on particular species of birch (I don't have the scientific names) which are not native to Britain - although they have been introduced in modern times. In North America, Russia and Scandinavia there is evidence for containers made from the bark of these foreign species going back into prehistory - the Algonquin word is something like "wiigwaas", which is the origin of the term wigwam, meaning a small lodge covered in large sheets of birchbark. The British species (Betula pendula) has bark which is far too thin and brittle for constructing anything - but it does burn very well.

So if you happen to be a 15th century Dane, or a member of the Manahoac or Missisauga tribes (pre-European contact) in the New World, go for birchbark containers. If you are doing 15th century England I would say it's very unlikely.

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 12:38 pm
by paul atkin
15 century wooden mugs/ coopered mugs, nope and nope, plenty of turned cups before the 11th century and a very nice coopered mug from the roman period, ( i blame the french for a change in eating and drinking habbits)
turned wooden boxes would be more suitable than birch ones.
and those mugs in your link are just ghastly, only suitable for 21st century

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 1:41 pm
by James The Archer
From memory, visting the Mary Rose, there was coopered mugs, but thats tudor, so might have been around from previous times, just can't remembery anything at moment

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 2:12 pm
by paul atkin
James The Archer wrote:From memory, visting the Mary Rose, there was coopered mugs, but thats tudor, so might have been around from previous times, just can't remembery anything at moment
you mean this one
mary rose  mug.jpg
mary rose mug.jpg (46.01 KiB) Viewed 4296 times
i dont know of any others apart from a roman one

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 4:48 pm
by Christabel
A kind food historian sent me a picture of a round wooden box very similar to the ones you can get Turkish delight in, from a 16th/17th picture of banquetting stuff, and it contained marmalade. It is not possible to say what this is made from, and I lack the savvy to get the picture on here...

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 4:48 pm
by Christabel
I mean, what the box was made from, not the marmalade!!

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 5:15 pm
by James The Archer
paul atkin wrote:
James The Archer wrote:From memory, visting the Mary Rose, there was coopered mugs, but thats tudor, so might have been around from previous times, just can't remembery anything at moment
you mean this one
mary rose mug.jpg
i dont know of any others apart from a roman one
Yep that's the DB :thumbup:

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 8:06 pm
by saracen
Possibly not quite on topic (not an expert on wood in the least!) but Karen Larsdatter's excellent site has images of bentwood boxes, which certainly resemble some of the containers available on the market at the moment... http://www.larsdatter.com/boxes-wood-bent.htm

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 8:20 pm
by craig1459
saracen wrote:Possibly not quite on topic (not an expert on wood in the least!) but Karen Larsdatter's excellent site has images of bentwood boxes, which certainly resemble some of the containers available on the market at the moment... http://www.larsdatter.com/boxes-wood-bent.htm
beat me to it!
bentwood boxes appear all over the place but have a particular tradition in Scandinavia that continues to the present day

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 10:29 pm
by Brother Ranulf
The posting asked for "in England in the 15th century". Karen does a great job of collecting these sources, but I believe we should be extremely wary of applying foreign practice to what was happening in England at any period without much basis in fact, particularly when it comes to available local materials (don't get me started on the French Maciejowski Bible being used as evidence for English kit . . . . :crazy: ). Still an interesting side show, though.

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 10:36 pm
by The Iron Dwarf
Christabel wrote:I lack the savvy to get the picture on here...
one way to get a picture here is to start a photobucket acount ( its free, go to photobucket.com ) then put your pic there and under the picture will be several lines of code, copy the one that starts with IMG and paste that in your text in your post here
you can have hundreds of pix for free on photobucket and use them for many things like having extra pix in ebay listings without paying them 37p each.
here is one of mine and if you quote this post you will see the line of code that leads to my picture.
Image

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:55 am
by Sophia
The 1480-1 Petty Customs accounts have a variety of entries for boxes both specifice (powder, soap) and general.

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:04 am
by Attilla the Bun
Brother Ranulf wrote:Birchbark containers depend on particular species of birch (I don't have the scientific names) which are not native to Britain - although they have been introduced in modern times. In North America, Russia and Scandinavia there is evidence for containers made from the bark of these foreign species going back into prehistory - the Algonquin word is something like "wiigwaas", which is the origin of the term wigwam, meaning a small lodge covered in large sheets of birchbark. The British species (Betula pendula) has bark which is far too thin and brittle for constructing anything - but it does burn very well.
I'm sure there's some birch bark containers from an archaeological context (prehistoric) from Britain, I'll try to find the reference.
paul atkin wrote: and a very nice coopered mug from the roman period ]
There's now six coopered tankards from the British Iron Age too, (the sixth one was found in Wales a couple of years ago and recently acquired by the National Museum of Wales and about to go on display in April) the most famous being the Trawsfynedd tankard
which, coincidentally, is currently on loan to the National Museum of Wales and on display in the Origins gallery. There were obviously many like it, as the same gallery has quite a number of tankard handles on display.

None of which helps you with the 15th century, but just as a point of interest!

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:25 am
by John Waller
Sophia wrote:The 1480-1 Petty Customs accounts have a variety of entries for boxes both specifice (powder, soap) and general.
And also entries for 'nests of coffers'. Which could be a sort of medieval equivalent of a set of tupperware.

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 1:52 pm
by Colin Middleton
James The Archer wrote:From memory, visting the Mary Rose, there was coopered mugs, but thats tudor, so might have been around from previous times, just can't remembery anything at moment
As far as I know, people were drinking from wooden bowls (mazers) and ceramic or metal beakers during the Middled Ages (in England). Arround the end of the 15thC, we started importing the idea of mugs and cups from Germany. Beforwe that, mugs and cups are rare in the UK (though lots of Jugs).

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 1:54 pm
by robin wood
Attilla the Bun wrote: There's now six coopered tankards from the British Iron Age too, (the sixth one was found in Wales a couple of years ago and recently acquired by the National Museum of Wales and about to go on display in April) the most famous being the Trawsfynedd tankard
which, coincidentally, is currently on loan to the National Museum of Wales and on display in the Origins gallery. There were obviously many like it, as the same gallery has quite a number of tankard handles on display.

None of which helps you with the 15th century, but just as a point of interest!
If you had shown me that I would have pronounced it as being clearly an Anglo Saxon bucket. Never known why they call them that but they are exactly like this "coopered tankard" and there are way more than 6. Often yew staves and lots of metal binding or completely covered.

Jean Cook did a very good study on them and has 338 in the database.
http://web.arch.ox.ac.uk/archives/asbuckets/index.php

Bentwood boxes were here pre Roman, Glastonbury Lake villages for instance. I have seen medieval bushel measures made from bentwood (quarter cleft oak) so the technology was known. But I am not familiar with any British examples of the typical "shaker style" vessel that is common in Scandinavia and much of Russia and Northern and Eastern Europe.

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:58 pm
by Attilla the Bun
robin wood wrote:
Attilla the Bun wrote: There's now six coopered tankards from the British Iron Age too, (the sixth one was found in Wales a couple of years ago and recently acquired by the National Museum of Wales and about to go on display in April) the most famous being the Trawsfynedd tankard
which, coincidentally, is currently on loan to the National Museum of Wales and on display in the Origins gallery. There were obviously many like it, as the same gallery has quite a number of tankard handles on display.

None of which helps you with the 15th century, but just as a point of interest!
If you had shown me that I would have pronounced it as being clearly an Anglo Saxon bucket.
It's the gorgeous late Iron Age handle that gives it away!
The new one isn't covered in copper alloy, it just has two narrow hoops and disappointingly, the most boring handle in the world, considering there's such a fabulous collection of fancy ones from Wales.

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 8:15 pm
by Karen Larsdatter
There's also some wooden mazers -- including a few from the 15th century (some of which seem to be English) -- at http://larsdatter.com/mazers.htm too.

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 1:28 pm
by Colin Middleton
Karen Larsdatter wrote:There's also some wooden mazers -- including a few from the 15th century (some of which seem to be English) -- at http://larsdatter.com/mazers.htm too.
I followed one of the links (replica Becket Maser) and found this clap-trap:
Mazer bowls are hardwood drinking bowls, often rimmed with silver. In medieval times such bowls were used to gather alms (gifts of money or food). This is a copy of a mazer bowl said to have contained an amber jewel from the shoe of Thomas a Becket (1118-1170), the Archbishop of Canterbury who became a martyr.
I'm not giving ANY arms to a begger with a silver rimmed bowl! Especially if it's got an amber that size nailed to the bottom of it!

:crazy:

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 2:25 pm
by Clarenceboy
Thanks everyone for the info on things.
In an attempt to summarise am I somewhere close with the following

Coopered mugs: Around before the 15th century and date back to roman and iron age but not evidence for England in the 15th but do come in very soon after with a find on the Mary Rose

Turned mugs: Again no evidence for England in the 15th but around before the 11th century

Bentwood boxes: Present throughout Europe in the 15th century but no explicit evidence for them being in England

Birch bark boxes: Common in russia and scandanavia for alll time periods but no evidence for their use in England

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 7:04 pm
by paul atkin
Clarenceboy wrote:Thanks everyone for the info on things.
In an attempt to summarise am I somewhere close with the following

Coopered mugs: Around before the 15th century and date back to roman and iron age but not evidence for England in the 15th but do come in very soon after with a find on the Mary Rose

Turned mugs: Again no evidence for England in the 15th but around before the 11th century

d
thats about the jist of it, archaeology does give us a very much fragmented picture though, but its all we have to go on

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Sat Dec 05, 2009 12:40 am
by robin wood
Clarenceboy wrote:Thanks everyone for the info on things.
In an attempt to summarise am I somewhere close with the following

Coopered mugs: Around before the 15th century and date back to roman and iron age but not evidence for England in the 15th but do come in very soon after with a find on the Mary Rose

Turned mugs: Again no evidence for England in the 15th but around before the 11th century

Bentwood boxes: Present throughout Europe in the 15th century but no explicit evidence for them being in England

Birch bark boxes: Common in russia and scandanavia for alll time periods but no evidence for their use in England

The problem is there are coopered mugs and then there are coopered mugs.

If you want to look at this

Image

and use it as evidence that coopered vessels were around so it's fine to use one of these.

Image

that is fine by me but they are very different things. The same goes for turned vessels and bentwood boxes, Styles vary over time and geographically, nothing like that oak mug has been made in Europe before the 20th C. For some doing a bit more research is the fascinating thing, for others it doesn't matter.

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Sat Dec 05, 2009 9:37 am
by Clarenceboy
Out of interest how do you think the handle in the mary rose find is atached? Pegged on, glued (if so what glue can hold for 500 years underwater?) or bound in with the coopering bands?

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 3:55 pm
by James The Archer
Clarenceboy wrote:Out of interest how do you think the handle in the mary rose find is atached? Pegged on, glued (if so what glue can hold for 500 years underwater?) or bound in with the coopering bands?
It's a while ago, but I think it was a hole stave, with the hand hole etc cut out then as a normal stave held in place with the rest of them by the banding, but this is from memory and only a quick look as it was the gunning and achery I was mainly looking at

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 2:54 pm
by robin wood
I would have said the same, that is the normal way though I have not checked. Incidentally whilst this may look like a big pint mug for an individual to drink from and there are one or two smaller ones this form is generally much bigger (most of the Mary Rose ones are). They are not drinking vessels but serving vessels designed for transferring liquid from barrel to drinking bowl, taking the place of the pottery jug that would do that job on land.

Re: Wooden boxes and mugs

Posted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 5:57 pm
by Colin Middleton
I was amaised to realise how many things that I thought were mugs are actually jugs when you look a bit closer.