Sacks - What were they made of?

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Bevis Gittens
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Sacks - What were they made of?

Postby Bevis Gittens » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:46 am

Might seem a silly question but sacks in the tudor time were obviously not made of hessian, this was not imported from India for another couple of centuries. I have seen sacks specifically listed in inventories which implies a certain value, i.e. not a throw away item like a modern plastic bag/sack is.

As is so often the case with common place items I have not found any reference to the type of cloth used to make these sacks (no one sees it necessary to actually say what it is made of as everyone knows!) I assume a fairly stong hemp/flax linen??

Anyone got any leads on this?

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Re: Sacks - What were they made of?

Postby Merlon. » Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:30 pm

Flax or nettle canvas



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Re: Sacks - What were they made of?

Postby Bevis Gittens » Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:50 pm

Merlon. wrote:Flax or nettle canvas


Sources? :D


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Re: Sacks - What were they made of?

Postby Merlon. » Wed Nov 04, 2009 2:14 pm

Do you mean hgistorical verification or places to buy it today?



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Re: Sacks - What were they made of?

Postby Bevis Gittens » Wed Nov 04, 2009 2:50 pm

Merlon. wrote:Do you mean hgistorical verification or places to buy it today?


Well historical sources really, but while you mention it where to buy it too would be good.

Thanks


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Re: Sacks - What were they made of?

Postby Merlon. » Wed Nov 04, 2009 7:08 pm

Its one of those things thats hard to find, but finally found a quote of sorts
Randle Holme The Academy of Armoury Book III Chap VIII P348 (1688)

Housewife Cloths made of hemp or flax.
Course Cloth
Sack Cloth
Reeding
Tick for beds
Canvice
Dowlas
Scotch Cloth
Lawne
Callicoe
Holland
Muslin
Gawse
Cambrick
Birds Eye

You also get there by inference from the definitions in the OED
sack is defined in the OED as:-
a. A large bag oblong in shape and open at one end, usually made of coarse flax or hemp, used for the storing and conveyance of corn, flour, fruit, potatoes, wood, coal, etc with a first ref from about 1000 AD
sackcloth is defined in the OED as:-
A coarse textile fabric (now of flax or hemp) used chiefly in the making of bags or sacks and for the wrapping up of bales, etc.; sacking
hessian s defined in the OED as:-
A strong coarse cloth, made of a mixture of hemp and jute, employed for the packing of bales is noted from 1882 according to the OED.

Nettlecloth is noted from the 1580s as a coarse poor mans clothing cloth but also used for tents etc and probably sacks as its soo tough



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Re: Sacks - What were they made of?

Postby Karen Larsdatter » Thu Nov 05, 2009 4:16 am

Found a 1391 reference to six fustian sacks (pro vj sackes de fostyon), and another reference to a linen sack c. 1450 (He was cled all in a lyn sakk alone).



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Re: Sacks - What were they made of?

Postby Dathi » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:19 am

I'd be wary of saying Sackcloth=sacks as I've come across sackcloth in Drapers Probate inventory from 1572 and 1578 and it turns up in Probate Inventories as the material used to describe a doublet from 1562 that I'm aware of.



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Re: Sacks - What were they made of?

Postby Merlon. » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:24 am

Again though taking that line, canvas is used to make doublets both as outer and inner layers as well as tents and possibly sacks buckets etc.
A name does not preclude its use for more thsn one purpose



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Re: Sacks - What were they made of?

Postby gregory23b » Thu Nov 05, 2009 5:27 pm

Canvas is etymologically derivative of cannabis ie hemp, so the term canvas could be simply hempen cloth, not necessarily heavy weight hempen cloth.

I would also use some form of logical deduction, given the fabrics available, ie woollen and linen, is wool ok for sacks, or is linen? Images occur of various sacks in a light colour, possibly undyed wool, possibly undyed linen, which is it likely to be? relatively expensive wool fabric or relatively cheap linen?


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Re: Sacks - What were they made of?

Postby Tuppence » Thu Nov 26, 2009 1:15 pm

also, which is more likely, harder wearing linen fabric, or softer and more delicate (comparatively) wool?


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Re: Sacks - What were they made of?

Postby Captain Reech » Tue Apr 06, 2010 1:36 pm

Dependson the weave of the wool but I'd say a coarse linen would always be a safe bet (And cheaper!) Easy to obtain as well, if you can't get on the net Ikea do a good natural linen which isn't expensive. I have a big sack made from this for lugging armour around (Eavy and spikey) in and after 4 or 5 years it's still solid.


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Re: Sacks - What were they made of?

Postby steven pole » Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:00 pm

Hi there.
I already make sacks and bags made from duck canvas which I sell online and events. I wondered about making more authentic bags from linen and I've found a supplier of Russia Drab, 16 oz. I've asked for a sample of the cloth and I'll be seeing how practical physically and costwise it would be to use. Knowing the cost of some materials, It may cost too much for some reenactors to part with their well earned cash for. I'll let you know what happens.
I've also pondered how these sacks where closed, draw string or just wrapped around the gathered end and tied?



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Re: Sacks - What were they made of?

Postby Captain Reech » Wed Apr 07, 2010 1:58 pm

On a tangent, what I've seen of fustian would make it a tough fabric (somewhat akin to modern cotton denim or upholstery fabric?) which would be woven from flax (linen). It's quite hard to come buy these days (Modern cheaper alternatives) but very useful if you can find a source.

The clarification of the sackcloth/hessian definition is useful, I've been trying to think of a way of explaning it to MOP's for years (I know the difference and the reason but can never think of the right wording!)and never thought to resort to the OED, genius!


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Re: Sacks - What were they made of?

Postby Tuppence » Wed Apr 07, 2010 2:04 pm

Linen duck canvas, or cotton duck canvas??

If cotton it'd have been a pretty expensive sack historically. There are silk dresses that only have cotton sleeve linings because they were to be seen.


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Re: Sacks - What were they made of?

Postby steven pole » Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:11 pm

Cotton duck canvas. A friend showed me a sack I made for him 20 years ago and he still uses it for his armour making bussiness.



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Re: Sacks - What were they made of?

Postby gregory23b » Tue May 11, 2010 9:48 am

I think what Tuppence is saying is that linen either flax, hemp or nettle were the common bast cloths, rather than cotton.

Ali of Herts fabrics sells linen canvas, bleached and unbleached and he is very reasonable in terms of price.


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