International studio — 81.1925

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1 cm


>USTO is a word which Before it became a night- fame was perhaps the most
one persistently asso- prowler's Weapon the black common and was used in

dates with the old jack was a symbol of English haTrTvest fidds/or ™*?>

leather bottles and black J L '4 l'4 milk or ale. It held the

jacks for which medieval OSpiLUl ly curds and whey of peasants,

England was famous in the 'TvOSE H E iNf DE RSON went hunting with gay
days of high tariffs, expen young lords and carried the

sive travel, meagre pottery output and profuse coats of arms and the red wine of kings. The
manufacture of leather products. A spirit of water-bouget was a pair of leather bags joined
revelry still pervades these sturdy old flasks, mugs together by their necks and much used by soldiers,
and pitchers, a mood of large and inclusive con- It was common in England centuries before the
viviality characteristic of the times. Many were crusades and was used for domestic purposes down
designed for use in great baronial castles where to the seventeenth century. The leather bottle
noble and serf sat at meat in the same vast hall. was in use until comparatively modern times,
In kitchens and dining rooms they jogged elbows though probably not manufactured alter the
with crude three-legged kettles of earthenware, eighteenth century. The leather pot or jack was
with smaller skillets of brass and with bowls and lined with pitch or metal and in its later forms was
platters of wood, pew- often handsomely em-

ter, brass, leather and bellished and provided

a few of silver. s ./ r with a silver binding

The ordinary Eng- ; y^\^ x^fc>„ * 1 and perhaps a cover.

Iish leather vessels .gjp&y -• ^ v^v "\ v.' !:' The jacks were some-

were the water- .miffl V times gaily painted in

bouget, the bottle and Jgfy ' x \l fji^ , rich reds, blues and

the black jack, the / *A ) / yellows. A handsome

latter including all , ~M ', i fli\ , ' v '} ' specimen is a heraldic

sorts of leather drink- j g^f ', ifcrJ ' \'l ' jack of the Oxford

ing cups and pitchers. , .4a jr % ■»*" *~ ^Jbfci? * Joiners' Guild now in

Made of tanned ox- 3 ^Jfe;-* i s' '^^i ^^jt a private collection,

hide, which was thick 1 WsgS^^*' ' \ According to Oliver

and rigid, these ancient | ^ :\ Baker, "Silver-bound

vessels had a strength ,&r.V*^?*' - • leather cups have been

and stability that the j. « made as early as An-

foreign ones, compara- a corner of the lnder-croft, Warwick castle glo-Saxon days, one

tively limited in num- belonging to that era

her, did not possess. And while liquid containers having been dug up in Derbyshire. But though
made of animal skins are as old as the Iliad and some silver-bound cups which are still extant have
more or less common to all primitive people, the been ascribed to the times of Elizabeth and though
leather vessels of medieval England reached a a few have authentic dates, they may be regarded
state of development which made them unique. as belonging generally to the seventeenth and
The vessels of hide which were used quite univer- eighteenth centuries." Bold and interesting con-
sally in the earliest ages of civilization were not tours, excellent ornament and the human tradi-
really leather as it is known today. They were tions and associations reflected in the old leather
simply skins sewed up, often in the original shape ware lend peculiar fascination and charm,
of the animal, and preserved by smoking or some The black jack was nicknamed "Sir John" in

such primitive process. Some bottles of real the time of the Stuarts. It is thought that "jack"
leather were made in southern Europe and in Asia is an allusion to the leather coats which soldiers
and Africa. They were probably known to the generally wore. In early times the black jack
Greeks and Romans. But nowhere were they in figured romantically in the serving of such way-
such common use as in England and nowhere else faring guests as minstrels, jugglers and other
did they develop a similar variety and individu- wandering companies. That the customary re-
ality, freshment offered to these itinerants was a black

The traditional leather "bottel" of ballad jack of beer and a pie is attested by a reference in

one jorty-two

MAY 1925
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