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  1. #1
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    Never worn vintage sporrans

    Every now and then, I chance across an unworn sporran of some vintage.

    These are usually the run-of-the-mill type of leather day-wear sporran, or the familiar fur and metal cantle evening dress sort, and I can resist the temptation.

    Occasionally I will happen upon something a bit more rare and interesting, such as the 1920s thong-through studded flap and broguing pattern front panel all-leather job, or the pair of Gordon Highlanders' officer's hair sporran and brass cantle 'Culloden' style with blanco'd bag and with blank issue-consignment tags still attached.

    Now, I make no claims to being a sporran collector, but I seem to have accumulated about 40 or 50 over time, and the bulk have had no, or little use. And, as they date from about the 1890s onwards, this intrigues me.

    Why never worn..?

    My guess is that a kiltie goes and buys his rigoot, with jacket options and maybe a sporran for evening wear and one for Highland Games duty. He goes to a couple of Burns' Night dinners, never gets to any Games, and that's that.

    The next thing we know, I am passing a junk-shop window and there is a sporran begging to be bought, or it's forming part of a mixed auction lot. These two Nicoll Bros' and the '20s sporrans came to me exactly that way.

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    Now, Nicolls went out of business 20 years or so ago, so for the best part of this century, these two sporrans have been languishing somewhere. The same is true for the '20s sporran, but after 100 years or so, you would expect it to show at least some signs of wear.

    I mean, wouldn't you wear it with more than a bit of pride?

    The two Nicoll sporrans are of a kind, being cut using the same templates and constructed in the same way, but are otherwise unconnected. The brown 'regimental purse' was an impulse buy this past weekend, on seeing it for sale in an antique shop window in the tourist-town of Ballater for the no-quibble price of £28. I would expect to see more asked on eBay. The black fur-front one I have had for a fair while.

    So the situation as I see it is this. There are either a few kilties out there like me, who have a good selection of choice sporrans but tend to use only one or two regularly, whose stash makes it to open market after they die. Or there is a glut of new-old-stock waiting to be snapped-up, only I'm unaware of it.

    Whatever, it shows that there is a good selection of vintage sporrans out there - some never worn - and if that's your thing, chances are you will get lucky soon.

  2. The Following 3 Users say 'Aye' to Troglodyte For This Useful Post:


  3. #2
    Join Date
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    I've come across only a few old sporrans over the years which look new, it's a treat to find those.

    The biggest lot was from somebody in the USA who had somehow ended up with a number of display sporrans from a shop in Edinburgh. They still had the loops of wire on the back for hanging them on the shop wall.

    I have seen a small number of new-looking Nicoll Brothers sporrans come up on Ebay. One wonders where they've been.

    I only bought one, a Pipe Band style Hunting sporran, black with nickel cantle. Like most Nicoll Bros sporrans it does things a bit different from WE Scott and L&M, who are usually nearly identical in style. Why buy such an over-seen type? Because most Pipe Bands wear those, mostly Pakistani copies, so in bands I wear my nice Nicoll Brothers instead.

    I did buy a "time capsule" set of Lawrie bagpipes. Possibly made in the 1960s they had never been played and came in the original box with the original factory tied-in bag, factory cane reeds, and factory hemping job. Due to sitting in the box since they were made the Catalin mounts hadn't turned butterscotch.

    A friend did one better: a "time capsule" set of Lawries with original box and paperwork from the 1920s.
    Last edited by OC Richard; 14th May 24 at 04:15 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  4. #3
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    It seems as if Fate has has seen my recent post...

    And has come to the conclusion that I like such things, for she has sent another my way. Kind of her, huh..?

    This one, too, seems to have no great age - my guess is that it has been made in the past 30 years - but has a fair amount of 'vintage style' about it.

    Frustratingly, there is no maker's mark, but there are a few hints - such as the rear strap-tab and under-flap press-stud tab being identical to known Nicoll Bros' sporrans.

    The gusset is the same bulging structure and style as that on a sporran from about 90 years ago, and has a similar applique pinked-and-pierced panel on the front and flap.

    The sporran also has a matching leather-lined and stitched chain-strap with a nice quality chrome-plated curb-chain - but it's a pity the chain is not brass to match the stud-work.

    So who is the maker..?

    Could it be a 'white label' job from Nicolls, or mayby Margaret Morrison after they had taken on Nicoll's old patterns and cutting tools?

    Not that it really matters, as the sporran clearly falls into the 'superior' category, and must have been quite expensive to buy new.

  5. #4
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    I put the question to Margaret Morrison, as they took over Nicolls' sporran business, and still use some of the equipment and tooling.

    Here's what the ever-helpful Kimberley kindly responded -

    It definitely looks like a Nicoll Bros one as it's our embossing plate on the body and lid of the sporran, and the latch knife is the same, but it seems odd that they never put their makers mark on the back. My only assumption is that the leather doesnít take well to an embossing or gold embossing or it was one that made as a sample?

    We still have these patterns https://houseoflabhran.com/vintage-b...igskin-sporran.

    It looks fairly new as the button hasnít corroded and I can't see the metal underneath so I would say you were right in saying that it was made in the last 30 years or so,


    So now what do we all think..?

  6. #5
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    Red face Made to be worn.

    They were made to be worn, so please do give them an occasional airing. As a regular kilt wearer myself I feel rather inadequate as I only own two sporrans!! I will however start looking in antique shop windows, though I might not find many in France!! ;-)

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewJohn View Post
    They were made to be worn, so please do give them an occasional airing. As a regular kilt wearer myself I feel rather inadequate as I only own two sporrans!! I will however start looking in antique shop windows, though I might not find many in France!! ;-)
    Exactly..!

    Which is why I am surprised there are so many unworn vintage sporrans waiting to be put into service.

    You're right. France is not the best hunting ground for old sporrans, but if ever you visit Scotland, never pass a charity-shop, or antique-shop without looking inside. You could get very lucky.

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