previous   previous
Jump to page 1  2  3  4  5  6
next pagenext   
The History of Braintan:    page 3

Colonial America and Renaissance Europe

Brain tan was the everyday garb of the American Indians when the Europeans first arrived, but in Europe the availability of deerskins to the commoner had long since disappeared. Only the aristocracy were allowed to hunt. In the Twenty-Fifth Year of the Reign of King George the Third (1785) came this revision to the Magna Carta of 1215
"No man from henceforth shall lose either Life or Member for Killing our Deer: But if any man be taken, and convict for taking of our Venison, he shall make a grievous Fine, if he have anything whereof: and if have nothing to lose, he shall be imprisoned a Year and a Day; and after the Year and Day expired, if he can find sureties he shall be delivered; and if not, he shall abjure the Realm of England."
This version was clearly more lenient than what came before.

wigs and breeches
Wigs and buckskin breeches
The New World provided a seemingly endless supply of deer. The trade in buckskins, tanned and raw, boomed. Common laborers valued its durability. By the 1750's it was the style among the wealthy of Europe to wear yellow buckskin breeches and gauntlets. It was hunting and riding wear, fashionable in the most elite circles. Customs records indicate that between 1755 and 1773; 2,601,152 lbs. of deerskins were shipped to England from Savannah, Georgia, just one of many ports. Many of these skins had already been brain and smoke tanned by the Creek and Cherokee.
"Buckskins were universally worn from the tradesmen to those of first rank in the kingdom."
Malachye Postlethewayt, author of The Universal Dictionary of Trade and Commerce, 1774. England is the kingdom referred to.
In America, the pioneers, woodsmen, trappers, soldiers and farmers, anyone who spent time out of the settlements, began to wear buckskin. It was the only fabric that could stand up to the wear and tear of the trail, as homespun would snag and tear on the twigs and briars. Another advantage was that it could be manufactured at home from a readily available source.
"By 1741, Augusta (Georgia) was, according to one rosy report, thriving 'prodigiously'. The rough little village was declared 'the most flourishing town in the Province.' Augusta's success was largely related to the growing popularity of tanned deerskin for clothing and other uses."
From Deerskins and Duffels by Kathryn E. Holland Braund
"Deer hides were, in fact, a profitable commercial item and one of the few dependable early sources of income for the settlers. Like the frock, buckskin breeches were first worn by workingmen. In the eighteenth century they were adopted by the English upper classes for hunting, and thus became fashionable. In addition to leggings, moccasins and breeches, buckskin was also used for overalls."
From Dress for the Ohio Pioneers, edited by Patricia A. Cunningham and Susan Voso Lab.
revolutionaries in buckskin
American Revolutionaries were often referred to as 'Buckskins', as that was what they typically wore.
When the colonists decided it was time to create their own country and separate from England, the revolutionaries wore buckskin and homespun. It was practical, available and patriotic, for it came from their own land and didn't support British trade. General George Washington ordered thousands of buckskin moccasins and shirts to be made for the troops.
"During the early part of the war a hunting shirt of buckskin or linen, breeches (of buckskin) and gaiters, large brimmed hat, ruffled shirt and black stock was the field service dress recommended by General Washington."

"The final choice of color, which did not materialize until the war's end, resolved into blue coat with red facings and buckskin breeches."

From How To Make Historic American Costumes by Mary Evans.
There was one battalion in particular that was famous for wearing only buckskin: Gen. Daniel Morgan's Riflemen. They were some of the best woodsmen of the time, sent on the more adventurous missions of the American Revolution.
"Like blue jeans today that started as work clothing, were glamorized and then sentimentalized as symbolic of a certain life style, the (buckskin) hunting shirt started as work clothing, was glamorized by its role in the Revolutionary War and then was sentimentalized as symbolic of the intrepid woodsman and explorer."
From Dress for the Ohio Pioneers

previous   previous
Jump to page 1  2  3  4  5  6
next pagenext   


Take me home        email us!


 the button

Traditional tanning information, resources and supplies.

240 pages and growing...

Brain tanned DeerElkMoose, CaribouAntelopeBuffalo hides, direct from the tanners.

ToolsBooks, VideosKits, Crafting Supplies

Raw hides.

creditcards.gif (2957 bytes)

Introduction to brain tanning,

Caring for your hides, Learn how to get started.

Over 240 pages of informational articles & tutorials.

Discuss This!

at The Hide Out!

Ask questions or share your knowledge and experience.

Contact us, Consulting services, Press room, Backcountry Publishing.

Traditional Tanners Catalog.

Order a Traditional Tanners Catalog.