View Full Version : A Barrel is a Barrel, Right?
07-23-2011, 12:47 AM
I have just been gifted a wooden keg, and I would like your opinion as to what it would have been used for in the 1850's/1860's,(if anyone would have bothered to make one like this at all then!).
Wood is about 1/2" to 3/4" thick. Barrel is classic keg shape, 15" high, 10" wide, with 4 heavy steel bands 1 1/4" wide with 2 steel hammered rivits for each band. Hole on one of the lower sides, about as big as a wine cork. Another hole in the middle of one stave about the size of a half dollar.
It seems the keg held red wine at one time, I would guess about 3 gallons. Accept for one area, i t still swells up nice and holds water.
So , what say you? Many Thanks!
07-23-2011, 09:12 PM
Not all barrels are right for the mid-century, though, and construction and materials vary over time... any possibility of a picture? That's usually really helpful in determining if a modern bit of material culture can make the jump back for use as period material culture.
07-25-2011, 02:35 PM
OK, here you go! The Colt Navy in Civilian holster is for size.
Thanks for your help.
07-25-2011, 08:41 PM
My first thought would be to strip off the finish. Period barrels were utilitarian items meant for shipping things and being bumped. A nice shiny surface would have been scratched in no time.
I have a book on barrels that I think I purchased at Old Sturbridge Village. It described the sizes and functions of different size barrels but I can't lay my hands on it right now. I tried to search for barrels on google books and found lots of books on oil barrels and gun barrels. I'll try to find the book.
07-30-2011, 06:04 AM
I have an identical keg which is just plain timber (not varnished) but it only has the one bung hole about 2" across, half way down the side. To be quite honest, barrels such as this have been iron banded or hooped since at least 1800 and I can see no reason why you couldn't use it as part of your reenacting kit but for the fact of it's empty weight. In fact all you need to do is paint one end red and you have a gunpowder keg!
I think my keg was used to hold quick-lime, but it cleaned up OK. It's just a prop mind, I don't use it to store liquids.
I suggest a good strong paint stripper to get that varnish off the timber and the paint off the hoops in one go. Over here we use "Nitromores" but a similar product will do it. Once you strip all the muck off give it a good hose down and a rub over with wire wool, leave it outside for a couple of weeks to age weather and it's ready to go - they make a pretty good impromptu low stool for when you get visitors to your camp and it gives the right "feel" when the public are about.
All I can add is good luck with your project and hope your friends have a few more to give you!;)
08-01-2011, 05:14 PM
Many Thanks Tony for the suggestions. You are very correct, it is a great keg for sitting on, but if ever asked I was hoping to be able to say what might have come in it. I would never really use this for my "Soldier in the field" impression, but as I get older I have been picking up a "Leather worker"/civilian impression. I went to a very small living history event this past weekend and could not believe the people that asked for items to be fixed, belts shorter/longer, shoe laces, apron straps, rein straps, linen stritches replaced, etc...... I would not think it makes a good imression to sit upon a powder barrel full or empty! So for now I am just saying what was really in it........Red Wine. So if any one is looking for a barrel lik ethis one, A friend of mine that owns a movable bar got it as a promo from a wine dealer. Thanks to all for looking, still asking for answers/suggestions. PB.
08-01-2011, 09:43 PM
Vinegar. They thought it prevented scurvy.
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