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  1. #1
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    Earliest use of brass-cantle sporrans?

    What is the earliest reference we have of Highlanders wearing sporrans with brass cantles?

    I know that the MOD cantles which have been so popular lately only hail from around the 1950s. Are they based on a specific earlier style? The reason I ask is because I only recently noticed that one of my fellow Colquhouns was wearing one very similar to the MOD brass cantles in sitting for his MacLeay portrait.



    Granted, his sporran is a hair sporran, and with all those tassels, it looks very military-like. So I know that brass cantles were being worn in the mid 19th century. But how much earlier than that were they used (in any configuration, not necessarily the MOD style)? I seem to recall references to a few Jacobite-era sporrans that may have had square brass cantles. But I don't seem to have any visual representations of them.

  2. #2
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    In the notes that accompany the Delia Millar version of "The Highlanders of Scotland" there is a note that Colquhoun's sporran is something of an 'oddity' at the time, being around 100 years old.
    I don't believe his is "hair" so much as it is fur.

    BTW: The STM museum gallery has some nice pictures of early 1700's brass cantled sporrans HERE.

    ith:
    artificer Pronunciation: \är-ˈti-fə-sər, ˈär-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*

  3. #3
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    Definitely early 1700s; probably late 1600s....
    Brian

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

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodsheal View Post
    Definitely early 1700s; probably late 1600s....
    Agreed.

  5. #5
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    Great info, thanks!

    That's the first time I had seen the early 1700s sporran on the STM site. I see that the cantle has the same concentric circle grooves that appear on the MOD sporran cantles. Is there some specific significance to these? They make for a nice decorative effect, to be sure, but seeing them used on brass cantles for such a long time seems to suggest that there's something more to it. Any clue?

    Artificer, yes, I suppose it would properly be called a fur sporran rather than a hair sporran. But in the end, isn't fur and hair the same thing?

  6. #6
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    Here is one in Glasgow Museum
    http://collections.glasgowmuseums.co...09432&i=387538
    And there are more than a few from this era in the National Museum in Edinburgh, Walter Scott’s house and dotted around in small-town museums and castles in Scotland.

    The ring designs seem to pop up everywhere. They are on Pictish symbol stones and Saxon sword hilts as well as Scottish sporrans.
    It's coming yet for a' that,
    That Man to Man, the world o'er,
    Shall brothers be for a' that. - RB

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacRobert's Reply View Post
    Here is one in Glasgow Museum
    http://collections.glasgowmuseums.co...09432&i=387538
    And there are more than a few from this era in the National Museum in Edinburgh, Walter Scott’s house and dotted around in small-town museums and castles in Scotland.

    The ring designs seem to pop up everywhere. They are on Pictish symbol stones and Saxon sword hilts as well as Scottish sporrans.
    Awesome sporran! I wish I would have been the person who found that beauty! Makes you wonder how many other "treasures" are still buried in and around Scotland...waiting to be found. A good mate of mine, Sandy Macpherson, who lives in Edinburgh, has an old basket-hilt sword in which he found around the hills of Glen Banchor, buried under a bit of heather and peat. He stumbled across it whilst hill-walking as a young boy in the 1940's.

    Cheers,

  8. #8
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    And a few that are in Edinburgh.

    http://nms.scran.ac.uk/database/resu...erm=%2Bsporran

    I fear that all I am doing is fuelling further sporran envy ... I wonder what Freud would say?
    It's coming yet for a' that,
    That Man to Man, the world o'er,
    Shall brothers be for a' that. - RB

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacRobert's Reply View Post
    I fear that all I am doing is fuelling further sporran envy ... I wonder what Freud would say?
    Sometimes a sporran is just a sporran.

  10. #10
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    From my limited research, the MoD "Culloden" brass sporran cantles were introduced in 1953 when the Scottish regiments needed a dress uniform for HM Queen Elizabeth's coronation. They apparently had not had anything more formal that battle dress uniforms since the beginning of WWI and all the regiments were issued the same parade dress uniforms (the various tartans being the exception) as needed. These new sporran cantles were supposedly based on an 18th C design. By the end of the 1950s, however, the regiments had all adopted individualized uniforms which more closely resembled those just prior to 1914 and all went back to horsehair sporrans. At least I think I've got that right.
    Kenneth Mansfield
    VITAM FORTITER AGERE
    My tartan quilt: Austin, Campbell, Hamilton, MacBean, MacLean, MacRae, Robertson, Sinclair (and counting)

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