S&SWM PR papers L1826


Baker | Ansd June 7/97

101 Gough Road | Edgbaston, | Birmingham | May 17.97

Dear Sir

I am writing a book on Leather Drinking Vessels, & have heard that in your celebrated collection of objects relating to the domestic life of past centuries, there are some specimens of Black Jacks or Leather Bottles.

If so, I would be extremely obliged if you could give me particulars of their measurements etc or photographs

With apologies for troubling you

faithfully yours
Oliver Baker

[Added in pencil

Sewn [insert] with leather [end insert] in several place where the creases occur

Sewn with loose fibres or material perhaps string



Ansd. Sept 15/97 | Ansd again Sept. 18/97 | Photography sent

Offenham | near Evesham | June 9.97

Dear Sir

I am exceedingly obliged by your very kind letter with illustrations of the leather vessels in your possession, which has been forwarded to me.

I should be very glad if you would also let me have the following items of additional information

1. The Black Jack with arms of Lord Rivers.
I should be glad to have the [insert] width across base [end insert] height & probable capacity of this, & to know if the arms are painted on, & if they afford any clue to which Lord Rivers it belonged when they were put on it.
Also if Rushmore is an ancient building [pencil 1 pt 13 1/2 8 1/4]

2. I should like the height & capacity of the silver mounted jack [pencil 9" 1 quart]

3. Also the same dimensions of the leather covered metal jug. I presume it is chiefly of pewter. Also how many pieces the leather consists of.

4. The leather mug shaped on the arm, I have never before heard of. I sh'd like its dimensions

5. Also those of the silver-mounted mug.

6. The capacity of this bottle

7. This vessel seems very curious. The sketch suggests, a rams-horn shape like a Scotch snuff-box. i should like to know if its top is leather or wood.

8. The capacity of this & if the mouth is of the original size or less the cylindrical piece of leather, which usually makes them smaller in the cork-hole.

These sketches are all extremely interesting & numbers 4, 7, & 8 are new to me.

If photographs already exist, I should like to have copies of all but No. 6 of which pattern I possess several examples. If the photographs have to be taken specially & the photographer at a distance, so that the cost would be increased, I shd. like (3) the leather covered jug (4) the post boys mug to strap on arm, & two different views of (7) the rams horn shaped costril, & one of the leather costril with ears at the ends for a thong (8).

Again thanking you very heartily

sincerely yours

Oliver Baker

The photos would be best not quite "broad-side on" so as to show more than one face


Enclosure [Typed, from Pitt-Rivers]


1. BLACK JACKS WITH ARMS OF 1ST LORD RIVERS: There are three of these in the Dining Room, Rushmore, which belonged to the 1st Lord Rivers who died in 1804 and were used in the Servants' Hall there. The dimensions of the largest one are"- Height 18"; width across base 10". The two others are of the same isze: - Height 13 1/2"; width across base 8 1/4". The arms of the 1st Lord Rivers are painted and "R" in gilt and colours. Capacity of largest jack about 13 qts. The two smaller ones will hold about 6 qts each.

2. SILVER-MOUNTED JACK:-Height 9"; capacity 1 quart

3. LEATHER-COVERED METAL JUG: This jug appears to be of pewter, covered with a dark-green coloured leather in three pieces, with a separate piece for the handle. Silver-mounted. Height 12" Capacity, 2 qts (Photograph sent.)

4. LEATHER JUG FOR STRAPPING ON ARM OF POST-BOYS. Height from arm 7 1/2"; width at top 4 3/4". Capacity about 2 pints. (Photograph sent.)

5. SILVER-MOUNTED LEATHER MEG. Height 6 1/4" width at top 4 1/8". Capacity about 2 pints.

6. LARGE LEATHER BOTTLE FROM OXFORDSHIRE. Height 9 3/4"; width 8 1/2". It leaks too much to be able to measure capacity

7. RAM'S HORN-SHAPED COSTREL. The top is composed of horn covered with leather on the outside. It is entirely covered with pieces of leather, and sewn with straps of leather in several places where the creases occur. Greatest width 8 inches. (Photograph, 2 views).

8. LEATHER BOTTLE. The mouth of this bottle seems to be of the original shape and size; sewn with loose fibrous material, perhaps string. Capacity, about 2 qts. Height 7 1/2"; greatest width 9 1/2" (Photograph sent).

These objects are:

1. Not listed in the catalogue of the second collection, they were presumably inherited from Lord Rivers and already at Rushmore.

2. Add.9455vol2_p130 /3 [Objects bought at sale of English and Foreign China and other works of Art forming the entire stock of Mr Button of Regent Street] -  Lot 780 A leather Quart Mug, mounted in Silver handle and rim I.M. on handle

3. Not listed in the catalogue of the second collection, it is not known when it was acquired, no entries for English leather vessels mention metal or pewter other than 2.

4. Add.9455vol4_p1334 /4

5. Not matchable to an entry in the second collection catalogue

6. No leather vessels listed in the second collection catalogue are said to be from Oxfordshire

7. No leather vessels or costrels listed in the second collection catalogue are said to have rams horns

8. Add.9455vol2_p720 /1 described as 'Bought of Fenton ... Old English leather bottles' [it is not clear how many of these there were]

One of the above probably matches Add.9455vol2_p340 /7, described as an '[Objects bought at Fenton’s Aug & Sept]  ... Antique leather Black Jack English [Drawing]'


101 Gough Road | Edgbaston | Birmingham | Sept. 19.97

Dear Sir

I am exceedingly obliged by the excellent photographs, you have sent me, which will be of great interest & very useful. they show how very accurate the small sketches must have been, which you first sent.

As to paragraph (1) of the description, I am very glad to know that three jacks survive with such an interesting history. I suppose I can get the arms of Rivers from Burke's "Extinct Peerages"?

As to No. (4) It struck me when looking at the photograph that I had seen something like it before, & at last I remembered that in the cellar of an ancient moated mansion Baddesley Clinton, in Warwickshire, I saw on the wall a similar looking article of leather & that the butler explained that it had been the custom in past times to use it for bottling. That it was strapped on the operators leg, & the bottle placed within it. He had himself used it for that purpose. Do you not think this is a most likely origin for this cup than that it was strapped on the arm of a postboy? It is such a quaint affair I should like to include it in the book, so if it proves to be an implement for bottling, I think we can safely assume that the butler would drink the wine which had overflowed into it, & that it was therefore a leather drinking vessel.

No. 7, is a wonderfully interesting & picturesque object & I am very glad indeed to have two views of it. I am not quite sure from the description that it was actually a rams horn covered with leather or if it has horn only at the top. I should think if a horn it would be some kind of cow's horn perhaps foreign cow or bull bovine animal. It seems to have had a mouth-piece screwed into the hole at the top, I should like to know if any worm is visible inside the aperture. I have photographs of a leather bottle with flat wood top in which is a similar hole with worm for screwing in a mouthpiece. With many thanks for your kindness I am
[illegible] yours
Oliver Baker

General Pitt-Rivers



101 Gough Road | Edgbaston | Birmingham | Nov. 10.97

Dear Sir

With reference to the details & photographs you were kind enough to send me of your leather vessels, have you come to any definite conclusion as to the leather cup said to have been used by post boys to strap on their arms? I should be very much obliged if you would let me know about this. I am coming to the conclusion that it must be the mug used for bottling, as since I wrote you, I have seen a specimen of the latter at the brewery at Hereford, which was extremely like yours. If you would like I could ask [insert] my friend the brewer [end insert] to send you a photograph of it, as he is a clever amateur photographer.

I am now of opinion that some leather cups I have seen in the possession of dealers have been made from this brewing vessel or rather bottling which is called the "boot".

This implement is now disused as bottling is now done with machines.

With many thanks faithfully yours
Oliver Baker

Transcribed for Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project by AP June 2011

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