ECW Infantry Buff Coat

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Chris T
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Postby Chris T » Sat Feb 16, 2008 8:59 pm

To put it in a modern context a small modern car is well over 100 days gross pay for an ordinary worker, but many people have them!

As I said , sleeveless buffcoats could well be quite cheap, and a standard suit of breeches and coat for a common soldier could well be 15s or so. Sargents in the period were more junior officers than NCOs, and seem to be expected to dress and act as such.

Having made a considerable number of authentic buffcoats I charge considerably less for a sleeveless coat, as it contains less work and less materials. Since I use authentic leather and hand stitching I believe my experience is not unlike that of a worker in the period.

A four panel sleeveless coat has in the order of 5 ft of stitching in the body of the coat, an 8 panel design about 8 ft, but is more economical on cutting. Sewn on wings will add in the order of 3 ft to each figure,so a sleeveless coat will have about 8 to 11 ft of stitching. A pair of simple sleeves will add in the order of 9 ft of stitching, so will roughly double the workload. In addition the curved seams of the sleeve and armhole are more difficult to stitch, largely due to the difficulty of supporting the weight while working.

The best way of controlling excessive buff in re-enactment is only allowing proper buffcoats...the cost will limit demand.



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby horatio » Sat Jan 08, 2011 11:24 am

If it is of any interest to anyone, I have 4 bends( sections of hide) of genuine buff which date from the 1860's which were prepared for the army for webbing. I have made a buff coat for a client based on the portrait of Nathaniel Poins if you would like to see an image email me on rpeter.ward@virgin.net.



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Dathi » Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:47 am

Speaking of leather I tripped across this picture

http://en.gallerix.ru/album/National-Ga ... 2015521989

Apart from the shocking pink outfit on the left, there's something interesting about the doublet on the right hand dueler.

Have a look as I'm slightly puzzled by it. There's a definte edging to the bottom of the front of the doublet and the wings at the shoulder appear to lack the thickness of the other doublets visable.


It also appears that Mr.Pink is holding a basket hilted sword of some sort



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Merlon. » Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:18 am

its a doublet made of leather, wether it counts as a buff coat is another matter
Image



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Dathi » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:40 am

I'd hope it wasn't 3mm-5mm thick...!

But it's nice to see a leather doublet being worn, as well as that lovely soft shade of pink...... :D



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Tod » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:13 pm

Now that is nice, I have just the leather for it. 8-)



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Dathi » Tue Feb 01, 2011 6:46 pm

Tod wrote:Now that is nice, I have just the leather for it. 8-)


Tempting... :D



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Dathi » Mon Feb 07, 2011 6:45 pm

Just out of interest. How thick is a buff coat ? By that I mean a Cavalry style buff coat ? I'm interested as I don't think that the fashionable buffcoats seen on officer types in European paintings are going to be as thick as something intended to be sword proof and capable of absorbing pistol shot



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Merlon. » Mon Feb 07, 2011 7:28 pm

My Beabey Buff coat based on the Nathaniel Fiennes portrait is probably around 5 - 6mm thick for the body panels. The articulated outer sleeve is probably 8 - 10 mm thick.
Pretty certain your CO's buff is a similar thickness for the body panels.
No matter how well fed or oiled the leather is, I never got it to drape like the coats do in those Dutch portraits



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Dathi » Mon Feb 07, 2011 8:36 pm

Thanks for that.

The Dutch schuttersstuk and the kortegaard genre were a very specific genre aimed on at the men who commissioned the schutterstuck and bought the kortegaard painting. They largely knew exactly what they were looking at and would expect a degree of accuracy. Given that, it's possible that either the artist over emphasied the drape of a buff coat OR reflected exactly what they saw. Which means that some of those buffcoats were thinner than 6mm to 3mm.



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Dathi » Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:54 am

Tripped over this on the web

First the portrait

http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/zoe ... 69&lang=en

second the buff coat

http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/zoe ... 00&lang=en

supposedly the leren kolder is that worn by Hendrick Casimir I

Odd things pop out. The Armour is barely groin length, even with tassets attached. The helmet makes it clear that this foot armour, if it was intended to be worn on Horse there would be a different style of helmet, look at http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/zoe ... 70&lang=en for an example.


There's also this http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/zoe ... 97&lang=en for the clothing fans



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Chris T » Fri Feb 11, 2011 1:17 pm

In places the famous Littlecoat buffcoats are considerably less than 2mm thick.
Part of the art of making a buffcoat is cutting the hide so that the thickest portions are in the front chest etc, thinning down in the back, tassets etc.

This is probably one of the reasons why the best coats were expensive, as they would have used the thickest portions of a number of hides to obtain maximum thickness: however, this would have left a considerable quantity of second grade leather to be used in 'ordinary' coats.

Modern oil tannage for buff leathers (I understand) involves the use of hot oil: wheras this speeds up the process, it seems to me that it usually produces a firmer product than was typical in the C17th. Some backs are better than others in this respect, and I have worked with some that seem to have almost the same degree of drape as in historical pictures. We should also maybe be aware that the painters could have been exaggerating the depth of shadow to show off their technique: a similar thing can often be seen in modern wargames figures, where the depth of shading can be such that, if the figure was scaled up to life size, the tunic folds would be 6 ft deep!



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Merlon. » Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:05 pm

Merlon. wrote:No matter how well fed or oiled the leather is, I never got it to drape like the coats do in those Dutch portraits

Was in the V&A the other day and look at the coat on display there, now coming to the conclusion that the buff leather available today does not compare to the original product.
The skirts on the coat below have a lot of drape in them, you can also see how thick the material is.
Image
The panels were one piece from shoulder to mid thigh, must have come off a hell of an beast



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Nigel » Fri Feb 11, 2011 4:25 pm

ELK ?

would the 350+ years of oiling / oil have helped the flexibility ?


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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Dathi » Sat Feb 12, 2011 9:52 am

So it's entirely possible that the buffcoats seen worn by Foot Officers are the same quality and thickness of buff as those worn by Horse? It's just that the way buff is prepared today makes the buff stiffer and less prone to the soft draping effect we see in surviving examples and in paintings, allowing for some artistic licence.

I presume that to get the right look you'd have to use slightly thinner buff ?



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby The Keeper of Mings Coat » Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:10 pm

The buff worn by Cromwell in the painting in the Cromwell Museum (haven't got the info on date or artist - looks 1650's from the breeches) where he has grey breeches with gold ribbons, braided sleeves, silver-grey scarf and is holding a hat with a white feather, has the buff ending at groin length, but the thickness of it is clearly shown. Looks quite substantial.


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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Dathi » Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:33 am

This one ?
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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Neibelungen » Wed Feb 16, 2011 1:18 pm

It's just that the way buff is prepared today makes the buff stiffer and less prone to the soft draping effect we see in surviving examples and in paintings, allowing for some artistic licence.

I presume that to get the right look you'd have to use slightly thinner buff ?


Modern buff and period buff have very little in common with each other than the fact that they use an oil rather than a tannin agent.

Theres a good history of buff leather in the Costume society journals.. No 17 from memory, but only a rough guess as I don't have my copy to hand (Large format edition so definately early)

Modern buff is cow hide while almost all early period buff would have been elk/reindeer. There's lots of complaints about the use of cow for cheap buff, especially in the early period.

There's several factors that change modern buff.. It's done with modern 'synthetic' oils with heavy sulfide content so they don't remove the grain for penetration (and it tarnishes metalwork badly). It's also done a lot faster, drummed and chemically degreased and washed rather than over extended periods with fish oils and constant turning in airated lofts. So although it's essentially the same process as chamoise, the methods are different , so you get a different end result in the leather. (Glue 6-8 sheets of chammoise together to get a 1/4" thickness and you still get a much better drap and flow.)

Secondly modern cow is bred for size and growth rate, so the grain structure is much, looser and weaker. If you look at period soleing you can get away with something easily half the thickness that you would use today for the same strength and wear. It means that it becomes much 'fluffier' and hasn't the same flexibility as would be too weak to survive drumming processes for an equal thickness.

Lastly modern buff is an 'industrial' leather designed for working in environmnts where rubber would perish, rather than a 'clothing' leather , hence has so much more 'stretch' to cope

The closest to later period webbing buff is actually modern syntan latigo type leather rather than today's buff.

You try putting 12-15 stitches/inch in modern general veg tan cow leather or soleing and see the effect it has. You can get manage it with imported goat and cow/calf and some high end leathers as it's not entirely overbread for mass meat production.

Ther's a reason why leather used to be sold by weight rather than footage.


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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby The Keeper of Mings Coat » Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:05 pm

Dathi - that's the one I was thinking off. Looks like it is designed for fashion in its short length or for use on foot. The skirts wouldn't cover your thigh when mounted.

Looking at the drape in the photos, it is definitely more er. drapey than the Yellow Helvetia that Claytons produce, which can be used for a buffocat (like mine). It's designed for gaskets! The white Bandsmans Buff is much softer though and nearer to the C17th buff than this.

Forgot to say; I'm pretty sure that the Littlecote buffocats are post ECW militia coats. Read this somewhere, but the style is definitely more like the coats of the period and military and civilian fashions didn't significantly diverge until the very late C18th/early C19th.

My pet hate with reenactment buffcoats is people wearing scarves around their waists whilst wearing a flimsy 'buff'. They look like a sack of spuds. Ditto doing the same with C17th civvies on.


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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Dathi » Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:56 pm

So you'd suggest the white bandmans buff as being closer to the correct look and feel ? The RA website has most of the Littlecote Buffcoats as about 1650. Interestingly I found this picture http://collections.royalarmouries.org/i ... =2&t=4&x=1 all from the collection. Look how short that buffcoat is.....

Oddley enough that's one of my pet hates, cheap nasty wool suits cut in the style of a 17th Century doublet with no stiffening or structure, breeches too short and worn on the hips, not the waist,cheap thin leather and plastic sashes worn around the waist making the wearer look like a sack of spuds tied up in the middle with string.

Although there are Dutch schuttersstuk paintings where sashes are worn around the waist over buffcoats or just the clothing. Not many, just one or two but they are out there.



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby STEENIE » Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:09 pm

Before the C17th it was normal to wear serious arming doublets etc under armour. Why would that change in the C17th. I am sure the buff coat of the cavalry is not that found under a set of infantry armour (different job), but, if it had been the norm to put something under a suit of armour upto and including the C17th why would we assume they didnt in the foote?

I noted someone saying, something like a buff coat turning a sword cut (yes) and stopping a shot (NO). Even in the Crimean War it was known that the thick russian great coats could turn a sword, but never a ball.

When I had my cavalry coat made (A la Nethaniel Fiennes), I had it made in Reindeer to give me the right type for the main body in leather performance, but where I needed it thicker, I had it lined in calf to give it more maleable thickness.

Anyway just my thoughts.


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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Dathi » Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:57 pm

Steenie

Arming doublets started dropping out of use in the mid to late 16th Century for what could be called munition armour. Sir John Smythe complained in 1588 that

“…..and because that no man can coveniently and fitly be armed, unless he be first apparrelled for his armour and also for the use of his weapon and that in the campe and armie of Tilburie in 1588 whereas there were regiments of divers shires with divers bands both of demilaunces and lighthorsemen I did see and observe so great disorder and deformitie in their apparrell to arme withall, as I saw but verie fewe of the armie that had anie convenience of apparrell and chiefly of doublets to arm uppon, whereof it came to pass that most of them did wear their armour verie uncomlie, uneaslie…”

What was becoming common was the lining of armour with leather, linen canvas and unwoven wool. There's a number of references in local accounts of payments to scour, oil, repair and line armour.

Increasingly in portraits we start to see leather as the base to fasten armour to for the better quality stuff, as in these pictures

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... _Soete.jpg

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... Nassau.jpg

http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/assetimage.jsp?id=SK-A-524



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby STEENIE » Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:15 pm

Dathi,

Exactly and a great quote it is. So, if buff coats (leather something or the other call them what you want), are not as expensive as so many people say they were, or indeed if they were, thinner coats of leather were available, wouldn't you put them under your armour to take the strain of fitting?

In the second photo you put up, note the elongated belly piece on the guy on the right to fit into the belly of his armour.


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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Foxe » Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:47 pm

Neibelungen wrote:Modern buff is cow hide while almost all early period buff would have been elk/reindeer. There's lots of complaints about the use of cow for cheap buff, especially in the early period.


Forgive my saying so, but this is a somewhat oxymoronic statement. I'm not sure I follow it.


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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Neibelungen » Thu Feb 17, 2011 2:02 am

Buff leather was supposed to be elk (moose)/ deer/reindeer. There are numerous accounts of complaints and charges brought before the leather tanners guilds because they were supplying inferior quality buff made of cow and in effect passing it off as buff (elk)

It's the difference between a Gucci bag and cheap asian fake import. They might be both made of broadly the same materials, but there's a big difference in the quality and substance of them.

You can make chammy (chamoise) with either sheep or chamoise, but it's very different end product in terms of quality.

(I will correct myself slightly on the chamois comment as 99.9% of them are sheep now. Untill you handle a genuine original sample it's hard to understand the difference. Only small quantities from the alpine regions, turkey and new zealand are made with the real animal. A goat-antelope (not a true antelope) relative to goats, sheeps and cows. All are in the bovide family)

Second edit, and one most leatherworkers will understand. It's the difference between a veg-tan goat and a veg tan thin cow or calf. Same tanning process , but gives a leather with a different feel and quality. And if you use it, deer, which is different again.

Cow buff could be almost classes as a 'fake' proper buff, though they use the same tanning process.

PS. European Elk (moose)/ Deer and reindeer.

It all came about as part of a very long series of converstions with Claytons, Mark Bibby, Hutchings & Hardings and Karl Robinson, trying to work out the correct properties and feasability of getting some original quality buff made.


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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Foxe » Thu Feb 17, 2011 10:38 am

Ah, I see. What you meant was that almost all early period buff was supposed to be elk/reindeer, but that large quantities were, in fact, cow.

So, all other things being equal (thickness, tanning process etc), there's nothing inherently inauthentic about cow-buff.


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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Dathi » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:07 am

So if I want to create a best quality buffcoat I need to find Elk/Deer skins of the right thickness......?



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby John Waller » Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:03 pm

Dathi wrote:So if I want to create a best quality buffcoat I need to find Elk/Deer skins of the right thickness......?


Stuart Reid had one made of camel skin! It seemed to work OK.


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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Tod » Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:52 pm

Neibelungen wrote:Buff leather was supposed to be elk (moose)/ deer/reindeer. There are numerous accounts of complaints and charges brought before the leather tanners guilds because they were supplying inferior quality buff made of cow and in effect passing it off as buff (elk)

Do you have any references for that?



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Re: ECW Infantry Buff Coat

Postby Neibelungen » Fri Feb 18, 2011 3:52 am

Yes, but not to hand. My copy of the relevant article from the Costume Society Journal is in London.

In it is speaks of various early ordinances? from the various leather guilds about limiting or controling the use of cattle hide in the production of buff. Most of these date from 1500 onwards.

The curriers I think had the control of the industry , it being distinct from the leathersellers and tanners as cod oil was part of the finishing process and hence would be famiar to them as a process in itself and as one distict from tawing too.

Just as a side note, if anybody ever tells you it was because if comes from buffalo (or correctly bison hide) , then it's total crap. The European bison (wisant) was practically extinct from western europe by 1500 and was only found in Royal hunting preserves in Poland an any number after that. Buffalo (as African or Indian Water buffalo) don't figure in the trade records as leather or skins until way into the 19th century in any quantity. And the american Buffalo (actually a bison) doesn't figure until the 1800's and the expansion west, with any real trade in it.


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