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A history of Leather Tankards and Hidebound.

Examples of a Leather Tudor Tankard an Early Medieval Jack and a Late Medieval Jack. All handmade in the UK

We are often asked what prompted us to make such unusual products. There are many reasons, the main one being that not many other people make them, and we wanted to keep the tradition alive.  The idea started when we first saw leather tankards and wine goblets made by another person who, tragically, died a year later.  The concept intrigued us, and we experimented making them ourselves.  Many months later a reasonable representation of the original resulted but it certainly was not saleable.   We thought that a bit more concentration would help but it took approximately three years of intermittent attempts before what we thought were reasonable quality tankards appeared.  A further year of perseverance took us to 25 years ago when we started as a business.

At this point we realised that a seemingly outlandish product was of interest to more people than was first thought and we officially formed the business now known as Hidebound Ltd

Our products are copies of historical items as found in various museums, collections and exhibitions.  They interest a wide range of people from those simply looking for something just a little different, to those interested in experiencing drinking ales, wines and ciders from historical vessels to historical re-enactors seeking complete authenticity while still adhering to today’s exacting health standards. 

Our most popular item has always been our Tudor Tankard which has a larger base than top and is copied from those found on the wreck of the Mary Rose.  Our version of a late medieval period jack of plain cylindrical shape is currently running a close second in the popularity stakes. Both items hold approximately one pint, the rest, as they say, is history. 

We originally made two sizes of wine goblets, which are based on Renaissance designs, but soon realised that the larger half pint, goblet was far more popular than the smaller version to the extent that we stopped production of the small one, except for special requests.

We have added many items to our range over the years. One of them being an early medieval jack. When we started making this item, we soon realised why the later medieval jack became so popular.  Although we continue to make both, the early medieval jack is a lot more labour intensive, which is probably what gave rise to the simpler version, now our Medieval Jack.

Over the years many people have suggested we should sell tankard making kits to allow people to stitch their own.  This is forgetting that leather is not waterproof, it therefore needs lining.  This is a far more complicated process than some would expect, with many options and errors to be made, any of which could ruin the leather. As we have fallen into many of these pitfalls ourselves over the years, we feel it is unfair to supply a tankard “kit” without also providing extensive training. This is therefore not an option taken up by us.

We love making and using such unusual products for other people to use and enjoy.  Drinking from leather many benefits.  Leather is very tactile, so the action of holding the item is also pleasurable. The more leather is used, the better it looks.  These vessels can be used for a lifetime, or more (even if the lining becomes broken, we can repair it). A leather vessel becomes a very personal possession, woe betide the unwary drinker who picks up someone else’s beloved tankard in our house.