The Golden Age of Picnic sets
Leather cased Sets
The finest picnic sets were invariably made in leather, from about the mid 17th century. Travellers have been able to purchase simple sandwich boxes in leather, then in the 19th century the coaching fraternity needed something more substantial, as the journeys became longer and more time consuming. At first a simple drinks flask was incorporated into the design, and by the time that the motor car appeared, the first leather cased picnic sets were introduced.
Leather sets were sold alongside their wicker counterparts, but obviously appealed to a wealthier clientele, and alongside the foremost makers, Asprey, Barratt, Vickery and Drew, other notable firms more renowned for supplying silverware like Mappin & Webb & Garrard, started marketing custom made sets for their notable clients. A vast range of sets were produced, but the advantage of using a leather covering to the case instead of wicker, was that these sets lasted longer, were infinitely stronger, and could be used to strap to the outside of the vehicle.
These sets were extremely well made, and usually incorporated brass edges, handles and heavy straps. Sometimes silver cutlery and the finest china were supplied by Mintons for use in Asprey, Mappin & Webb, and Vickery sets. Each firm employed highly skilled leather craftsmen well used to making suitcases, so it was a simple matter to instruct them to turn their skills into picnic set production. Often various picnic set fittings would be provided by Coracle for use in Asprey and Barratt sets. Fine sets were also being produced on the Continent, and amazingly even Louis Vuitton purchased ceramic sandwich boxes from Coracle to incorporate in their own designs. Even the finest silversmith in France, Christofle produced leather cased picnic sets, but only to special commission.
|Click any image below or its associated word link for examples of that type of set.|
|Leather Fold Fronted||Leather suitcase|
Obviously the cost of labour, the scarcity of wealthy clients, plus the changes in car design after the war bought about the downfall of the major makers- Drew, Barratt and Vickery, but the other firms who continue to this day- Asprey, Mappin & Webb and Louis Vuitton are not solely reliant on picnic set production for their income, but will still undertake the production of custom made examples for extremely wealthy clients. Such sets are now well in excess of £30,000 each, but of course the fittings are new and the quality greatly diminished.