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  1. #1
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    Brass Cantled Sporrans - Need Historical Guidance

    Howdy all,
    I have lately been deep in conversation with a metalsmith buddy of mine. I've been steering him toward the idea of making some brass cantles for me in his down time.

    I've obviously done the basic forum search here, and amongst the online musuem images out of Scotland to help inspire (as I'd like it to be an historically inspired design).

    I am trying to narrow it down to a few basic designs to do some trials on.

    The one I've seen the most is the basic brass "half-circle" purse mouth, which utilizes a pierced bottom for lacing the bag on (or alternately a threaded-post back, but we've decided to steer away from that for now).

    From what I've seen this bag is usually seen with small etching, plain fronted, or with a pierced design.
    From the Glasgow Museum Collection

    This is the style I'll most likely have my friend make.

    The second I've seen is the 'stepped' or 1/2 hexagon top profile. I've only seen this the MacLeay illustrations (if I recall correctly the source), but it appears to have more 'relief' than the 1/2 circle, with repousse or other type of embossed detail.

    The third type I THINK I've seen (if I'm interpreting the illustrations correctly) is basically just a brass plate (presumably with a matching back plate) and no metal 'hinge'. It just laces onto the basic leather 'purse' to add stiffness and decoration to the mouth of the bag.

    So, to all you historical Highland dress experts out there, is there anything in my ( very simplified) description that strikes you as 'off-target'?

    I'm sure there's a TON of stuff out there that isn't online, if anyone has extra info they'd care to share, I'd be most appreciative.

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by artificer; 25th August 10 at 02:59 PM.
    artificer Pronunciation: \r-ˈti-fə-sər, ˈr-tə-fə-sər\ : noun : 14th century :a skilled or artistic worker or craftsman
    Artificer Custom Sporrans
    *Home of the Original Kenneth MacLeay Sporran Project & Functional Brass Cantles*

  2. #2
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    Sounds like you've covered all the bases. The "cup-and-ring" stamping/engraving seems to be the most frequently occuring decorative motif on period sporrans. Here are some images I've saved:











    And this guy reproduces some of the stepped type cantles you mention:

    http://www.ncmilne.co.uk/sporrans/sporrans.html
    Brian

    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~ Benjamin Franklin

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodsheal View Post
    Sounds like you've covered all the bases. The "cup-and-ring" stamping/engraving seems to be the most frequently occuring decorative motif on period sporrans. Here are some images I've saved:











    And this guy reproduces some of the stepped type cantles you mention:

    http://www.ncmilne.co.uk/sporrans/sporrans.html
    I would love to find out how the metal for the cantle is formed into the semi circle with three sides, i.e. a front surface, a back surface and a top. Can the metal be formed that way on a press, or must it be poured into a form? Can you get that info from your metal working friend? Inquiring minds want to know!
    "Before two notes of the theme were played, Colin knew it was Patrick Mor MacCrimmon's 'Lament for the Children'...Sad seven times--ah, Patrick MacCrimmon of the seven dead sons....'It's a hard tune, that', said old Angus. Hard on the piper; hard on them all; hard on the world." Butcher's Broom, by Neil Gunn, 1994 Walker & Co, NY, p. 397-8.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobsYourUncle View Post
    I would love to find out how the metal for the cantle is formed into the semi circle with three sides, i.e. a front surface, a back surface and a top. Can the metal be formed that way on a press, or must it be poured into a form? Can you get that info from your metal working friend? Inquiring minds want to know!
    The cantle on my sporran is made from strips soldered together.
    Last edited by MacMillan of Rathdown; 25th August 10 at 06:35 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacMillan of Rathdown View Post
    The cantle on my sporran is made from strips soldered together.
    Understood. However, I have several military sporrans [MoD] in which the cantle seems to be a single piece of metal, unless I am missing something...The brass cantle in the middle of Woodsheal's set of photos likewise does not seem to have the kind of seams I would expect when strips are soldered together. Hence my puzzlement as to how it they were formed...
    "Before two notes of the theme were played, Colin knew it was Patrick Mor MacCrimmon's 'Lament for the Children'...Sad seven times--ah, Patrick MacCrimmon of the seven dead sons....'It's a hard tune, that', said old Angus. Hard on the piper; hard on them all; hard on the world." Butcher's Broom, by Neil Gunn, 1994 Walker & Co, NY, p. 397-8.

  6. #6
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    I'm guessing the ex-MOD sporrans were stamped. Earlier sporran were probably beaten into shape by a skilled labourer...

  7. #7
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    The last one in Brian's photo submission is mine and it is three pieces soldered. It is, to all intents and purposes, seamless -- unless you investigate the inside.

    Rex

  8. #8
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    Am I correct in thinking that brass cantles are for daywear?
    ....cogs are going 'round.....thinking of making one....

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Micric View Post
    Am I correct in thinking that brass cantles are for daywear?
    ....cogs are going 'round.....thinking of making one....
    The concept of separating sporrans by type into a time-of-day, is a modern one. In the "old days" represented by these examples (18th C.) your sporran was your sporran, period.

    Currently, I suppose they'd work for either "daywear" or dress....
    Brian

    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~ Benjamin Franklin

  10. #10
    M. A. C. Newsome is offline
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    Here is a brass cantled sporran from the early 1700s we have in our museum collection:




    There are more photos here.....
    http://scottishtartans.org/sporrans.htm

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