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fredk

Chapman's pack for Renn-Faires and markets

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On another discussion I mentioned a Chapman's Pack.

@Klara asked what a Chapman's pack looked like. She could not find an example via google.

In medieval times the chapman was a travelling shop. He came around your area every once in a while. He brought his stock of household requirements in his pack. He brought needles & threads, thimbles, eating knives, spare buckles to repair old belts, he brought toys for children,  confections, cheap jewellery, ribbons & lace and more to sell to village and country housewives. One thing he brought which was priceless was the latest news from around the Kingdom or just the next parish or village

The chapman travelled alone on foot in person but usually had a dog to accompany him and for protection. He did his rounds just about every day of the year, no selling on Sundays though and except in the very worst of weather. He got shelter and food from his customers and at Abbeys. He carried his shop on his back. Very rarely was he ever robbed. He was one of those who bandits never really bothered, he was just an ordinary workman earning his living.

When I was involved with historical presentation societies I choose to be the simple craftsman whilst everyone else wanted to be the 'Black Knight' and do the sword fights. Guess who got more attention? More photos in local & national papers?

Towards the end of my time doing events I made a basic Chapman's Pack but was planning on making a better one. Just opening up the Pack drew crowds of attention at events

My pack is based on several drawings which were in the margins of early illuminated books, mainly from the early to mid 14th century (the 1300s)

Herewith is a basic sketch outline of what a Chapman's pack looked like and how it was opened up

The box shape is made of extremely thin and light weight wood, about no more than 1/8 inch thick for the panels and the frames about 1.5 to 3 inches thick. My sketch is very basic. Those who study it will realise that the depth of each main side, top & bottom piece is different to accommodate the thickness of the panels when they are folded in.

Generally the pack was about 18 to 20 inches wide, the width of a strong man at the shoulders. It was about 20 to 26 inches tall, from top of shoulders down to arse and between 8 and 16 inches deep.  The rear-most panel had waterproof material on it as it was first on the ground when opened and when up it closed off the contents from wind and rain. Each panel opening in its sequence. The hinges were often of hardened leather.

Each side panel and top opening panel, or flap, had various ways to hang the Chapman's wares for display. Some cheap items just being laid out the ground flap, the goods protected by the waterproof cover.  The most expensive items remaining in the main box of the pack but could be seen. The shoulder straps would be unbuckled and re-attached to the flap to hold it up.

Rarely, the chapman also carried, attached to the pack, 4 wood shafts, each about 3 ft long which he could attach to the base of the pack somehow to raise the pack up, to make it easier for customers to see his goods - no kneeling down, better for elderly housewives in market places

Obviously there can be a great many variations on this design

Chapman's pack, 01LWs2.jpg

 

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Great info, thanks a lot! And the pack itself is a brilliant idea, I want one even if I don't know what for ;) (leather tools?)

I completely understand that you got more attention as as a craftsman than the fighters. At my last visit to a medieval show I was definitely underwhelmed by the sword fights - NZ does it better! ;)

 

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Very informative great stuff @fredk

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Very nice read.  

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Fred, too bad you don't have actual photos of the pack!

Edit: found a picture, but not a great one for detail: https://mysteriesofcanada.com/canada/syrian-peddlers/

Edited by Sheilajeanne

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The pack reminds me of seeing street salesmen in old movies where they carry something similar but in the form of a briefcase or suitcase.  Mostly from the 1930s and 40s.  I'd assume those movie depictions are based on reality - but have no way of really knowing!

- Bill

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awesome info Fred some of the first traveling salesmen lol. 

"Guess who got more attention? More photos in local & national papers?" And it was probably the same back then.

 

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Great information

I looked at the drawings, and got to think about if the waterproof cover would have been made a bit longer than the first opening flap, so that when the pack was all closed up, this piece would extend over the top of the entire pack to prevent rain from getting in where the top hinges are?

Brgds

Jonas

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I know I have seen something similar that was made for artists.  The front flap would serve as a clean, flat surface for drawing or painting and the side flaps held pencils, brushes, etc.  There were storage areas in the main part of the case too, for larger items.  Tried to find it again, but no luck.

I did find a doctors bag that is similar.  Wouldn't take much to change this one to allow the sides to "wing out" rather than stay in place or hinge down.

Lodge Furnishings | Doctor's Traveling Medicine Kit | doctor's bag –  Cisco's GalleryOr this one...craftsman tool bag.  Brown Leather Craftsman Tool Case Satchel | 1stdibs.com | Leather diy,  Leather craftsmen, Leather handmade

Edited by Tugadude

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I've been looking to make a tool roll for myself, and this idea for a fold out bag is really cool. I found these versions of a similar idea to the OP.

 

medical_kit_bag.jpg

medial_bag2.jpg

maker

 

Edited by spacedog

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Very cool.  That doctor's bag has a saw that is similar to ones from around the American Civil War era.

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I was thinking of holsters for various trade folks, now I need to figure out a "pack" for them as well!  These are all amazing!

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I've enjoyed reading all your responses and seeing all the cases / packs you've found

Just shows ya, a good idea just stays around and is adapted by different trades

 

9 hours ago, Mulesaw said:

I looked at the drawings, and got to think about if the waterproof cover would have been made a bit longer than the first opening flap, so that when the pack was all closed up, this piece would extend over the top of the entire pack to prevent rain from getting in where the top hinges are?

In the 1100s thru 1500s ordinary people wore a hood with a short shoulder length cape attached  (actually it was one piece). In the old illustrations the chapman's hood-cape draped over the top of his pack. It looked like he'd put the pack on first, then his hood, which draped over his shoulders and the rear part covered the top of his pack

 

11 hours ago, Sheilajeanne said:

Fred, too bad you don't have actual photos of the pack!

I never photo'd it and afaik no else bothered to either. It was no great shakes. It was just a rough one knocked up to see if it was useful. Plan was to make a better one

11 hours ago, Sheilajeanne said:

Edit: found a picture, but not a great one for detail: https://mysteriesofcanada.com/canada/syrian-peddlers/

Good one. Looks like they continued a profession which went back to at least the 900s

 

21 hours ago, fredk said:

 Guess who got more attention? More photos in local & national papers?

yeah, well, I was sort of teasing on that. I did get slightly more attention from both visitors and the press. If you've seen one Black Knight sword fighting you've seen them all but it's not often there was someone (me) sitting making arrows, or sewing up shoes etc

Oh, another version; the knapsack, aka a backpack,  used by British soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars (1793 -  1816) and by US soldiers from about 1811 was of a similar construction and opened up in the same way. The Froggie's / Crapaud's pack was different

Now that we have all these variations who will be the first to draw up a pattern for one they might use? 'Be the first on your block!' as adverts on the back of comics used to say

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I'm toying with the idea of making a packsack or tote I could use for taking my leatherworking tools with me if I'm going on vacation somewhere and have a project I want to work on!

But first, I need to get that tool roll for my metric and SAE wrenches done... :rolleyes2:

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One of the reasons I love this forum is threads like this.  First, I learned some history, thanks to fredk.  Then I have read people's comments and viewed examples of some similar products.  Then more history and finally, inspiration.  I have some thoughts now on creating a similar "box" for myself to organize some of my tools for times when I might want to "go mobile".  So thanks to everyone for the education and the inspiration!

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One advantage of being retired - lol - kind of went down the rabbit hole with this.

There's one group of people who made a living at peddling, the Karelians. They are Russians, who live on the border between Finland and Russia. A lot of their trade was in textiles, so their packs had to be wide enough to carry bolts of cloth. The packs could be collapsed/rolled down as goods were sold. The majority of their trade was with farm women, who did not have easy access to stores, and wanted the new, colourful fabrics woven by automated looms, as an alternative to those they had to laboriously weave and spin themselves. This is what their packs looked like: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peddler#/media/File:Kiestinki_”laukkuryssä”_peddlers.jpg

From: The Limits of Patriarchy Paperback – Jan. 22 2019

by Laura Stark (Author)

 

 

Karelia peddlers.JPG

Edited by Sheilajeanne

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19 hours ago, fredk said:

In the 1100s thru 1500s ordinary people wore a hood with a short shoulder length cape attached  (actually it was one piece). In the old illustrations the chapman's hood-cape draped over the top of his pack. It looked like he'd put the pack on first, then his hood, which draped over his shoulders and the rear part covered the top of his pack

It's actually called a liripipe, and combines a scarf in the tail, which doubles as a long pocket. And guess who has one and uses it? It can even be rolled into a hat!

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"Scalpel?" "Scalpel."
"Swab?" "Swab."
"Saw?" "Saw."
"Doctor, the patient's coming round"
"Hammer?"

My mum's family has a soubriquet in French all of its own. Call someone a tire-dents, a tooth-puller, and it's an invitation to sort things outside, right now.
it comes from about five-times great grandfather Claudius Ash, who was a battlefield surgeon at Waterloo, and relieved the dead of their teeth once the no longer needed them. Soldiers were generally fit and young, so their teeth became the world's first commercially available false teeth.

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