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Advice on 14th century bags

Posted: Sun Nov 08, 2015 3:15 pm
by The Peddler
I am planning a 14th century pilgrimage in December and need a bag for bits and pieces. I have a scrip (heavy linen bag for food etc) but want a smaller one for stuff I may need to get to in a hurry. Does anyone know of any sources for belt bags of the 14C? Alternatively, I have these three already, are any of those suitable?

Re: Advice on 14th century bags

Posted: Sun Nov 08, 2015 10:35 pm
by Brother Ranulf
Belt pouches (called a burse at the time - hence "purse") feature in the Museum of London book "Dress Accessories 1150 - 1450", with 14th century examples labelled as "ceramic phases 9, 10 and 11".

These burses are either of cloth or leather, sometimes of leather with a silk edging. The earlier example are of simple drawstring type - a long rectangle of leather folded in half to produce a square-ish bag, sewn up each side and with slits around the open top for a flat strip of leather to be laced through, which could then be tied to the belt as well as closing the pouch.

Late 14th to early 15th century styles had a similar shape to your second image, but much deeper and with more pronounced extensions at the lower edge (giving it a distinctive curve); the flap becomes wider towards the bottom edge and is also deeper than your example. The cut-out top edge is correct. Some of these burses had embroidered fronts, or applied metal mounts as decoration.

The MoL book includes nothing like your first and third examples, which are probably not authentic.

Re: Advice on 14th century bags

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2015 8:15 pm
by guthrie
Yes, the 2nd one down is near enough. The bottom one is horribly wrong, I've never seen a picture of a medieval one held together by thonging round the edges like that; they were supposed to be somewhat waterproof. The top one certainly looks somewhat medieval, except I don't recall seeing one that is held round the belt by a button. I'd have to go dig through Purses in Pieces to make sure though.

Re: Advice on 14th century bags

Posted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 1:23 pm
by Colin Middleton
The second ne is the best of the three. It I unusually plain and the leather and the seams don't look right. The top should not be open like that, a slit on the front provides access and is covered by the flap.

The first one looks kind-of right, but the button is wrong.

Both the first two have clearly been made by someone who's looked at Medieval pictures of purses, but not been supported by any professional research into it.

I can't think of any examples like the third.


Re: Advice on 14th century bags

Posted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 2:21 pm
by John Waller
My understanding is that they were usually turned - made inside out and turned so the seam is inside - like period shoes. No. 1 looks machine sewed, 2. looks OK and 3. looks larpy!

Re: Advice on 14th century bags

Posted: Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:14 pm
by The Peddler
Thanks all, looks like I'm going with number 2 then.......number 1 is a Phil Fraser bag and I can't remember where I got number three from, it may have been a gift.