Sunday 15 June 2014

A medieval carpenters inventory from Deventer

Sometimes you find something in a book that you have overlooked, or because it is placed in a chapter that did not directly arouse your interest (due to lack of images). Such was also the case with me for the book Huusraet (household items in Burgundian time) by B. Dubbe, a well illustrated book exept for the last chapter. The end of the book also contain some household inventories, but another inventory was hidden in a meagre paragraph on tools and goods in the last chapter. It contained part of an inventory of a carpenter/joiner that lived in 1461 in the Corte Bisschopsstrate in Deventer, the Netherlands.

 A map of the city of Deventer from 1652. The Corte Bisschopsstraat is indicated by the red arrow and dot.

The following items are on the list:
  • Twieschavebancke (2 shaving horses)
  • II lange schave (2(long) try planes)
  • III korte [schave] (3 short (block) planes
  • II ploech ende een heft-schaiffken (two ploughs and a plane with a toat)
  • III beytell (3 chisels)
  • I spadeken (in this context most likely a billhook)
  • een deel kortelinge van wagenschate (short pieces of oaken planks)
  • I scuppe (a spade or a spud?)
  • II lyemtangen (2 clamps)
  • I timmerbensken (workbench, likely a small one)
  • I krebber (scraper)
  • I negeliveetken mit negelen (something that holds nails)
  • I stoter (mallet)
  • I lyemblock (block of glue, likely hide glue)
Interesting in the list is the mention of two ploughs. I have not seen this type of plane mentioned before in a medieval context! Also interesting is the mention of clamps and the glue, and the scraper. These tools are not often mentioned in inventories. A clamp implies the use of a screwing system What I do miss from this inventory are saws and braces.

'Kortelinge' are short ('kort') pieces, while 'wagenschate' (or 'wagenschot') are oaken planks, imported from eastern Europe that were either split or sawn along the length of the log. These short pieces of oak could have serve very well for panels in frame and panel constructions of late medieval furniture.

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