Leather flasks, especially those used as functional and decorative items, date as far back as the 17th century. The largest body of writing about leather flasks was the tome entitled “Black Jacks and Leather Bottells(sic)” by the 19th century historian Oliver Baker. Baker goes into great detail about the entire known history regarding the uniquely English manufacturer of leather flasks and decorative jugs.
According to Baker, while the leather flask-making industry as a whole did experience a decline in popularity in the late 18th century, it did not die out. Indeed, the manufacturing of these flasks continued on, and as proof he cites an advertisement in a London newspaper in 1772 touting finely-made leather “bottells,” as the flasks were sometimes called. The book also includes etchings of a leather flask on display in a royal museum that was said to be owned by the Duke of Wellington.
In these modern times, of course, leather flasks are not the domain of the moneyed nobility. In fact, these flasks aren’t even the sole province of men, as they are widely used nowadays by both men and women. So what exactly is so special about leather flasks that have captured such wide ranging cross-gender appeal? While men may admire the flask’s function, women are known to appreciate its form. This smart combination of both form and functionality has led to a resurgence in the popularity of the flask that was once seen as a mere indulgence.
Flasks Make a Comeback
For some people, the leather flask has very strong connotations with regards to indulging in early 20th century nostalgia. For these people, the very act of owning a leather flask is a way to channel the designs and aesthetics of the Roaring 20′s, an era of speakeasies and flapper panache. Some see the leather flask as a bit of a throwback to the 1920s art of discreet drinking, and as such the leather flask has become the hottest new fashion accessory in jazz clubs, “swing and jive” bars, and a must-have accessory among the fedora and Zoot suit-wearing crowd.
Whether you want to add a touch of authentic style to a nightclub outfit or just want a stylish way to hold your libation of choice, a leather flask is a popular choice for the potential flask buyer, and a rather practical choice to make. For instance, instead of reaching for refreshment with the cold, metallic feeling of pewter or stainless steel hip flasks, a leather flask will provide you with a warm and tactile surface for you to hold. As a bonus, the flask’s leather coating is very durable, which means that not only will your flask be protected from scratches and other wear and tear, but it will also last for years to come. Even if just used to protect a smaller flask, it’s a smart investment. That’s because a leather flask cover will also reduce denting to the metal of a flask due to the overall pliability and sturdiness of the leather. For these reasons alone, getting a leather hip flask is a smart decision for the user that is on the go.
What Are Leather Flasks Made Of?
The leather used for the flasks themselves is available in a wide variety of colors, although the traditionalists will want to stick with either a brown leather hip flask or a black leather hip flask. In particular, black leather usually contrasts quite well with the gleaming reflective surfaces of silver, stainless steel or pewter, often making for an extremely eye-catching combination.
For those of you who may enjoy the idea or the look of a leather flask, but choose not to buy leather products for ethical reasons, you’re in luck. Many leather flask makers now provide an option of getting a faux (fake) leather cover or “pleather.” Flasks made from this material not only are animal cruelty-free but also have the advantage of usually costing less than their true leather counterparts.
Caring For Your Flask
Leather flasks are also very easy to care for and maintain. Any unwanted stains can usually be cleaned with a gentle solution of water and mild soap, along with gentle rubbing by hand with a small washcloth. If the stain is more ingrained, adding one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to lukewarm water and letting your flask soak for 20 minutes before washing should do the trick. As for routine care and maintenance, soft leather oil, like the kind you might find at a sporting goods store to be used on baseball gloves, is an inexpensive and very effective way to keep a leather flask supple, durable, and crack-free.
Leather Flasks are Hip. Really.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a fashion accessory that combines style and function, a leather flask is a great choice. From a storied past dating back several centuries, to a resurgence in the 1920s, and finally to a modern day flask Renaissance, leather flasks are a great way to look cool while carrying around your beverage of choice. Leather flasks are popular with both men and women, come in a variety of styles and colors, and can even be worn by those that shun genuine leather for ethical reasons. In addition to being pleasing to the eye and offering a practical way to carry your libations, leather flasks are durable, deliver great value for your money, and are easy to clean, care for and maintain. If you are looking for a timeless accessory that combined form and function, you would do well to invest in the timelessness of a leather flask of your very own.