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  1. #1
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    Black Watch Sporran - Post WW1?

    I was wondering if someone could help potentially date and shed more light on this very old sporran that has just come into my possession. I acquired it from a lady who was offloading some of her late husbands militaria collection. It looks to be a Black Watch Sporran, however there are no dates or stamps on the back. I have also been having a hard time place the "St.Andrew" Badge on the cantle....all the images I have seen online have a thistle and laurels beneath his feet...this one is without.

    Any help would be appreciated.

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  2. #2
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    To me those military sporrans are hard to date because they used the same pattern for so long.

    Just now looking back over a large number of old photos of members of The Black Watch, the earliest photo I have to hand showing that pattern was taken in 1876.

    Though Full Dress was withdrawn in 1914 it was still worn periodically, mostly by bandsmen.

    As far as I know that pattern of horsehair sporran, though seldom worn, wasn't superseded by a new pattern until 1968.

    This being the case we have to make guesses as to age based on the appearance and condition of the back. Your sporran could be as early as around 1870 and as late as 1914. A post-1914 date is certainly possible, just less likely.

    I think you're on to something with the badge. Here's a comparison of your sporran, with no wreath at the bottom of the badge, and the type most commonly seen, with wreath.



    There are military badge forums, someone there might be able to shed light on your badge.

    EDIT: See my 2nd post below. I've identified your badge!

    Here's that pattern sporran, looks like the badges have the wreath.



    This photo taken in 1865 shows the previous pattern still in use. The sporran is the same but the badge was worn on a shield mounted directly on the hair. It looks like these badges also have the wreath. In 1868 the cuffs were changed to the gauntlet pattern, and perhaps the sporran was changed that year as well.

    Last edited by OC Richard; 22nd April 21 at 07:31 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  3. #3
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    I might have found that badge!

    It was elusive. I looked at photos of members of The Black Watch in photos where the badge could be distinguished and they all had the wreath- in the 1850s, 1880s, WWI, WWII, modern, in Scotland, in Canada.

    I did see one or two of the separate badges like yours (no wreath) online but they had no measurements and no provenance.

    At first I had though that your badge is a Black Watch sgian dubh badge.



    But no, I don't think your badge is a Black Watch badge at all! Look at the ends of the cross, the way St Andrew is depicted.

    Your badge certainly looks like a cut-down Cameron Highlanders cap badge:



    It's clear as a bell when you compare a Black Watch sporran badge (below, bottom) and a Cameron Highlanders cap badge (above) to your mystery badge (below, top)



    I think yours is a cut-down Camerons cap badge, not a Camerons sporran badge. Here's why: the Cameron Highlanders sporran badges had a somewhat different depiction of St Andrew, and also would be rather small.

    Last edited by OC Richard; 22nd April 21 at 07:29 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  4. #4
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    Phenomenal work....Thank you.

    That looks like it and I even found this on ebay (i know, i know...)
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    Which is most definitely the same badge....

    Now comes the next question...as Cameron Highlanders always work black sporrans with white tassels, how did this sporran come to be? I don't see anything that shows another shape badge being on there previously. Also interesting is that the sporran badge doesn't have the typical posts that go through to the back....it feels like it has bendable tabs at the top and bottom securing it on.

    Could this just an old reproduction? It does seem to have a fair bit of age...

  5. #5
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    It's a puzzler for sure.

    Setting aside the Pakistani sporran for now, I can't seem to find the exact badge that's on your Black Watch sporran associated with any regiment that I can find.

    It's clearly derived from the Cameron Highlanders cap badge, but lacks the full wreath of thistles.

    It doesn't resemble any Black Watch badge due to the design of the cross and the depiction of St Andrew.

    And as far as I know the Cameron Highlanders didn't have a badge like their cap badge but lacking the wreath.

    Their collar-badges were thistles, and their sgian badge was a sphinx:

    (Left to right Black Watch, Highland Light Infantry, Seaforths, Camerons, Argylls, Gordons.)



    The two sginean with St Andrew are those of the Black Watch and the Seaforth Highlanders, but neither badge looks anything like the Cameron Highlanders version of St Andrew with his cross.

    In any case, in Scotland there were Volunteer and Territorial battalions which often had unique uniforms, and in addition there were Dominions regiments which often followed the uniform of one of the Scottish regiments but might have variations in the badges etc.

    So your sporran was indeed probably originally made that way. I would guess that it's at least a century old.

    I think it's extremely unlikely that your century-old Black Watch sporran is a reproduction. Reproductions of military sporrans is a quite recent thing. In the old days it was just the opposite: surplus ex-army sporrans were very inexpensive and were widely sold. Even here in the United States catalogues from the late 19th and early 20th century were selling old Scottish military sporrans for pennies. The huge Hollywood costume house Western Costume had hundreds of genuine Victorian Scottish ex-army sporrans which were endlessly used in Hollywood films.



    About that Pakistani "Cameron Highlanders" sporran, it's doubly strange. First, where did they get such a badge to copy? And second, why put it on a Cameron Highlanders sporran? The Cameron Highlanders' sporran badge had a wreath around St Andrew more or less like their cap badge.

    Here's an actual Cameron Highlanders Other Ranks sporran with the original correct badge:



    About the Other Ranks sporrans of the five post-1809 kilted regiments, the designs they ended up with by 1881 had the Black Watch and Camerons with plain leather cantles with stitched leather rim, and leather cones to the tassels. The Seaforths, Gordons, and Argylls had metal rims, and metal cones to the tassels.

    The Black Watch, Seaforths, and Gordons had white sporrans with black tassels while the Camerons and Argylls were reversed.

    Unlike the other kilted regiments in the Camerons the same sporran was worn by Other Ranks, Sergeants, and even Officers in certain orders of dress.

    Victorian military sporrans is an interesting topic to me. One aspect is that originally all regiments had either five or six short tassels. Around 1840 the Camerons introduced their sporran with two long tassels, as best I can tell the first regiment to do so. Originally it was the officers' undress sporran but later spread to the entire regiment.

    The Gordons wore black sporrans with five short white tassels but eventually switched to their now-familiar white sporrans with two long black tassels.

    Only the Argylls and Black Watch stuck with their earlier style with short tassels.

    Here are the Gordons with their older style having five short tassels, white for pipers, black for Other Ranks and sergeants. Officers have six bullion tassels, which the Gordons long retained for Levee Dress.

    Last edited by OC Richard; 22nd April 21 at 11:17 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by sdmurray4 View Post
    I was wondering if someone could help potentially date and shed more light on this very old sporran that has just come into my possession. I acquired it from a lady who was offloading some of her late husbands militaria collection. It looks to be a Black Watch Sporran, however there are no dates or stamps on the back. I have also been having a hard time place the "St.Andrew" Badge on the cantle....all the images I have seen online have a thistle and laurels beneath his feet...this one is without.

    Any help would be appreciated.

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    I suppose that strange sporran badge is an edwardian era collar badge (worn on collars of officers red dress doublets), somehow got onto ORs sporran intead of standard badge.
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    Last edited by blackwatch70; 23rd April 21 at 03:23 AM.

  7. #7
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    I think I've found your sporran!

    This sporran is said to be the sporran of the Glasgow Highlanders.

    You can read online about that unit's convoluted history. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glasgow_Highlanders

    They wore a uniform like that of The Black Watch with a slightly modified cap badge.

    If this is indeed a Glasgow Highlanders sporran it raises why they would adopt a slightly different sporran badge than the Black Watch.



    I failed to point out earlier that the pipers of The Black Watch have long worn a badge nearly identical to the cap badge of The Cameron Highlanders on their crossbelts.

    Thing is, Cameron Highlanders cap badges have long existed in two versions, one with scroll and one without. The no-scroll Camerons cap badge is nearly identical to the Black Watch pipers' crossbelt lower badge.



    So, the Glasgow Highlanders wouldn't have needed to get their design from the Camerons.
    Last edited by OC Richard; 23rd April 21 at 08:12 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  8. #8
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    OC Richard.... I owe you a few beers. You have been an amazing help.

    I wish it had a stamp to date...any idea on value? Would I be crazy to try and reinforce the loops and wear it out one evening?

  9. #9
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    Come to Grandfather Mountain and I'll take you up on the beer offer! No...wait...it's a dry county, right?

    It's a historical military thing and I myself wouldn't wear it with civilian clothes.

    As far as value goes, I have no idea. With so many such things it's hard to know until you put it up on Ebay.

    If it is a Glasgow Highlanders sporran, probably pre-World War One, there might be collectors out there looking for them.

    I am getting the impression, from a quick look on the internet, that sporrans with that badge are seldom seen, both with surviving ones today and in vintage photos.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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