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Oak Furniture, Folk and Naïve Art / Two large leather bombards, together with a small bombard, a lidded drinking vessel, and a costrel 17th / 18th century (5)

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SUFFOLK COLLECTION
Lot 7
Two large leather bombards, together with a small bombard, a lidded drinking vessel, and a costrel
17th / 18th century
27 September 2022, 10:00 BST
Edinburgh

Sold for £2,040 inc. premium

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Two large leather bombards, together with a small bombard, a lidded drinking vessel, and a costrel

17th / 18th century
One of the bombards painted with a red lion crest, the other embossed with hearts, both with typical handles, the crested bombard: 24cm wide, 21cm deep, 41cm high (9in wide, 8in deep, 16in high) the small bombard: 15cm high (5)

Footnotes

Bombards, or blackjacks, are drinking vessels made of leather used for holding water or ale. Having been around well before the Medieval period, they became an invaluable item in any Tudor household, alehouse, inn, and tavern up and down the country. Used by all of society from peasants to Royalty, the decoration reflects the social position of the owner. Constructed using wet leather, they are stitched together and 'air dried' to provide a practical, watertight drinking vessel.

The name blackjack started as 'jack' and probably originated from the name of a jerkin ('a jack') worn by soldiers. They became known as blackjacks as many were coated inside with a black pitch or pine tar resin to help make them waterproof. The larger version, known as bombards, was likely named as such due to its shape resembling a bombard gun. Examples were found in the wreck of the Mary Rose and were used by the military up until the 19th century due to their practicality and the fact that they did not make a noise while on the front line. During the Napoleonic wars these guns become known as 'boots', which is where the expression 'fill your boots' comes from.

Little is known about these fascinating vessels; the last book on the subject being published in 1921 (Oliver Baker – Black Jacks and Leather Bottles). It is believed they are uniquely British with French visitors recorded showing their surprise at the leather-made vessels. Pewter and glass were also used in Britain as drinking containers, but these were more expensive, and pottery broke easily in the livery taverns and alehouses. Shakespeare mentions bombards at least twice in The Tempest and Henry IV, and examples are available in museums across the country including the National Leather Collection which has a vast assortment and holds the Oliver Baker Archive. This collection is believed to be unique in both size and quality and, in terms of coming onto the marketplace, it offers buyers a wonderful opportunity to purchase a piece of history.

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