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  1. #221
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    Quote Originally Posted by gun eagal View Post
    This epic thread is like a graduate course in sporrans. Thanks very much. I've learned quite a bit.
    Here's a question I've had for a long time but it may be out of place here. I'm new to the forum, so please move it if necessary.
    I've noticed a lot of sporrans that are made with pigskin, or cowhide stippled to look like pig skin. In leather bag making pigskin is most often used as a lining. On sporrans the pigskin is often laminated onto the back of a piece of cowhide for structure. Why is pigskin used so often? It's very tough, but kangaroo is tougher. Is pigskin just tradition? If so, how far back does the tradition go?
    many thanks
    John
    I'm far from being an expert on such things, but perhaps it's because kangaroos aren't awfully common in Scotland or the rest of the northern hemispheres?
    Rev'd Father Bill White: Retired Parish Priest & Elementary Headmaster, lover of God, people (most of them!) dogs, joy, humour & clarity. Legion Padre, theologian, teacher, philosopher, linguist, dreamer, traditionalist, bon-vivant, encourager of hearts & souls & a firm believer in dignity, decency, & duty. A proud Canadian Sinclair.

  2. #222
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    Quote Originally Posted by gun eagal View Post
    I've noticed a lot of sporrans that are made with pigskin, or cowhide stippled to look like pig skin. In leather bag making pigskin is most often used as a lining. On sporrans the pigskin is often laminated onto the back of a piece of cowhide for structure. Why is pigskin used so often? Is pigskin just tradition? If so, how far back does the tradition go?
    I always wonder about the origins of things too. I'm forever looking through old catalogues and studying old pictures to try to find out not only the "why" but also the "when" of things.

    In this case the "when" is easier to answer than the "why".

    Highland Dress is one of those things that appears to follow "punctuated equilibrium". Highland fashions will be more or less stable for a half-century or more, then suddenly and for no apparent reason will undergo a major transformation.

    The last such was over 100 years ago, in the period roughly from 1900 to 1920.

    From around 1840 to around 1910 Highland Dress employed long hair sporrans for all three modes

    -Civilian Evening Dress
    -Civilian Outdoor/Day/Morning Dress
    -Military Dress

    Civilian Highland Dress had far more variety than today and was a bit chaotic, with distinctions between Evening and Day dress being blurred at times. Yet one can discern a pattern, the long hair sporrans for Evening Dress tending to be white hair with a silver cantle, the long hair sporrans for Day Dress tending to be brown-grey hair with plain leather cantle. (Victorian Day Dress tended to avoid metal fittings altogether, usually/often lacking kilt pin, cap badge, etc.)

    Then for whatever reason around 1900-1920 the long hair sporrans went out of style in civilian Highland Dress, and a suite of new sporran styles appeared, small and "round" (as a writer in 1910 called them) or as I call them "pocket shaped".

    Part of that turn-of-the-century overhaul of Civilian Highland Dress was Evening Dress and Day Dress being far more compartmentalised than before, with each mode having dedicated shirt, neckwear, jacket, sporran, hose, and footwear. They even might wear different kilts Day and Evening, heavyweight worsted for Day and lightweight Saxony for Eve.

    The new small pocketlike Evening sporrans were usually sealskin with silver cantles.

    The new small pocketlike Day sporrans were generally pigskin, buckskin, or calfskin. They were never dyed black but left in their natural colours.

    What you say about pigskin being stiff probably explains it, pigskin being used for the stiffer sporrans and buckskin and calfskin for the supple ones.

    Later on they started using cowhide in place of pigskin but as you said they textured the leather to resemble pigskin.

    And most of those sporran styles which had appeared by 1920 are still with us today, our "traditional" sporrans.

    BTW the outlier was the all-fur animal-mask sporrans, which had appeared at least as far back as the 1880s, pine marten especially. They were the first of the smaller pocketlike sporrans, and were worn only for Outdoor Dress.

    Another interesting fad in the early 20th century Day sporrans was the reproduction mid-18th century buckskin sporran with opening brass top.

    Here's one firm's Day sporrans in 1936; all were brown.
    #14 and #15 are reproduction mid-18th century sporrans, buckskin, with opening brass tops.
    #16 and #17 are soft, supple Hunting Sporrans.
    #11 and #13 show that brown Day sporrans with fur fronts have always been with us, and were considered ordinary Day sporrans.
    There was no concept of a "semi-Dress" sporran until AFAIK the 1970s.



    Another firm's Day sporrans in 1938



    Another firm's offerings in 1939

    Last edited by OC Richard; 1st August 20 at 04:20 PM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  4. #223
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    Quote Originally Posted by Father Bill View Post
    I'm far from being an expert on such things, but perhaps it's because kangaroos aren't awfully common in Scotland or the rest of the northern hemispheres?
    Oops, sorry, I didn't mean to infer they should use or could have used kangaroo, just that although pigskin is tough (and perhaps that's why it is used so often) there are tougher skins and hides to use.

    My own day wear sporran is black cowhide with a "scotch grain" also called "pebble grain". When shopping for a new pair of brogues about ten years ago I searched high and low for brogues made with "scotch grain" leather in the style I like, but settled for some made from smooth, shiny leather. I do sometimes wear Scots Guards officer's brogues I bought on eBay, amazingly, which are made with "scotch grain" leather.

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  6. #224
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    Quote Originally Posted by gun eagal View Post
    My own day wear sporran is black cowhide with a "scotch grain" also called "pebble grain". When shopping for a new pair of brogues about ten years ago I searched high and low for brogues made with "scotch grain" leather in the style I like, but settled for some made from smooth, shiny leather. I do sometimes wear Scots Guards officer's brogues I bought on eBay, amazingly, which are made with "scotch grain" leather.
    Yes the brogues worn by the Highland regiments under their spats are pebble grain.

    A guy in my Pipe Band has Ghillie Brogues done half smooth, half pebble grain, he had them made to order.

    Thistle Shoes offers pebble grain Ghillies:

    https://thistleshoes.com/product/exe...ained-ghillie/
    Last edited by OC Richard; 2nd August 20 at 03:22 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  8. #225
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    On Ebay just now an entire Pipe Band's set of seal Evening sporrans has gone on sale, for those of you living where seal is legal

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Scottish-Ma...p2056016.l4276
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  9. #226
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post
    Here's a nice EW4 Evening Dress sporran.

    The seller says it's calfskin but the photo shows a sealskin sporran, I'm 99% sure.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/NATURAL-CAL...temCondition=4

    As you may know sealskin has a sheen to it, almost a metallic sheen in some light, that bovine lacks.

    Actually the photo in that auction looks like it's cropped out of a larger photo, I can see tartan. I wonder if it was taken out of a catalogue or something.

    The listing now says "Natural Seal Skin" . The photo I saw does have an edge where it was cropped but I figure it is the carpet as shown in other photos.

  10. #227
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    Yes that's because I contacted the seller and told her/him that I'm pretty sure the photo is of a sealskin sporran.

    I also said it would be better to see a non-cropped photo. I didn't say it, but the original pic looked like it was grabbed online somewhere and cropped. It was suspicious-looking to me. Why not just take a pic?

    The seller got back to me and said "yes it is a sealskin sporran, thanks, I'll change the listing".

    That happens all the time on Ebay, somebody makes a new listing but it has fossils from previous listings, so different parts of the same listing give different information.

    If it's something I'm interested in I'll contact the seller saying "did you notice your listing has two different sizes given?"

    Or the seller will put up two listings, but mix up the photos.
    Last edited by OC Richard; 2nd August 20 at 04:59 PM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  12. #228
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    Just yesterday my latest Ebay sporran arrived, it's here upper right. It was around $30 including shipping.

    It's too dark to see, but the front is covered with a certain kind of animal skin

    It will give me an alternate black/silver sporran to wear with my black Argyll jacket & waistcoat. For the longest time I've only had the Nicoll Brothers black Hunting sporran you see there to wear with that jacket. (Well, that and the hairy sporran!)

    This new sporran is very good quality. It's stamped Made In Scotland in gold letters. The stamp, the thickness of the leather flap, and the depth of the embossing makes it not look like Scott & Son. Beyond that I can't guess the maker.

    I realised that every one of my sporrans is an Ebay purchase!

    Last edited by OC Richard; Yesterday at 01:25 PM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  14. #229
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    That's certainly a great bargain. What kind of hair is the white sporran made of? It reminds me of John Burgess's famous sporran.

    john-burgess.jpg

  15. #230
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    I would say the sporran Burgess is wearing is Icelandic Sheepskin or Angora.

    To me they look similar. Probably fur experts can easily tell them apart, I don't know.

    Here's an Angora sporran on Etsy

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/7851014...iABEgKBVPD_BwE

    My sporran in that photo is goat, which as you see isn't curly like Icelandic Sheepskin or Angora.

    Margaret Morrison has this sporran in Persian Lamb, which looks similar too.

    https://morrison-sporrans.co.uk/prod...77374267578125
    Last edited by OC Richard; Yesterday at 08:54 PM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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