Spring-catch, framed bags date back as far as the medieval period in Europe. They continued to see use for sporting/hunting purposes through the 18th century and in later periods elements of the design continued for women’s purses. Upon first glance, those who have not studied this design immediately associate them with the smaller Scottish sporran but period paintings and images depict the English, Dutch, German and French utilizing this style.
All hardware for this bag was completely hand fabricated excepting the period style cast brass tacks. Predominately, spring-catch bags have their latch button located on the top. The originals that inspired this frame have the latch button located on the front. Those original bags were found in the Netherlands. From examining other Dutch frames from the 18th and 19th centuries that latch system seems most common to that area. The hinged frame with all its moving components is a fairly close representation of the original in materials, design, functionality, arc and dimensions.
Following a shell motif theme, the calfskin bag displays scallop shaped impressions and arcs that were applied to the leather with heated tools. The tools used for this process were also hand fabricated. The pleated front panel assists in adding dimension to the finished product. The bag is divided internally into two sections. The divider is attached to the hinge system, allowing the divider to be moved forward or backward to access each compartment. The bag has been given various processes to give a mellowed, used look.
The brass belt clip takes on the shape of a shell. It was inspired by the shell guards found on some early swords of Dutch origin. Detailed file work on the perimeter and engraved lines accentuate this effect. Made of one piece of brass, it was annealed many times to allow it to be bent over on itself.
Most all period depictions show these bags worn on a waist belt. In an effort to make this pouch more versatile, a shoulder belt with frog was designed. Following the shell theme once again, the frog is designed with the lobes of a clam shell or scallop. The belt clip can be securely fastened to the frog for shoulder wear while retaining its ability to fully function on a waist belt. The harness style shoulder strap is embossed with the same tooling that was created for the designs on the body of the bag. The brass buckle was fabricated based on the shape of a large, early harness buckle from the Colonial Williamsburg collection.
Copy and photos supplied by James Rogers.