Friday, 25 July 2014

Snapsack or Havresac? More Research.

Snapsack or Havresac? More Research.
I thought I had it all worked out, I thought I knew the difference between a haversack & a snapsack, but take a close look at the image below, & you will se the word havresac written on what we have come to know as a snapsack or sausage bag.

Another name for a Haversack is scrip, but now I have to wonder if the term “scrip” was originally used for the sausage bag. It also seems that there is more than one type of snapsack, the other being a bag which attaches at the waist on a person’s side but is much larger than a pouch. See the image below.

The term “Havresac Double” also appears on this back pack from Diderot. See below.

So could the bag below also be a Double Havresac?

This pack below also appears to have the same strap attachment at the top, but, the lower strap seems to simply go round the pack & is not attached. If this is the case then this should probably be correctly termed as a "Pack".

This image below is my Haversack, but I am now thinking that this version is a later version. If the terms "snapsack" and "haversack" are interchangeable, then this would make more sense.

The term haversac or habersac or haversack go way back before the 16th century, and refer to a bag that carried horse feed. Later it was to carry food for people. But I had always assumed that this term applied to the bag shown above. But if in fact it refered to the sausage bag, or what we now call a snapsack, then it would lend more credence to what someone recently called "a double snapsack". Could this also refer to information stating that haversacks were sometimes altered to be used as a knapsack?

This could get or has now got slightly confusing, because some historians think that the term knapsack developed from the term snapsack. Clearly the knapsack as we know it, is different from the sausage bag, but then when you look at Diderot's sketch of a double haversack (below) compared with my knapsack (below), you can see the similarities.

So in conclusion, perhaps we should stop using the term snapsack, & start using the term haversack for both single & double strap types, making sure to call the double strap version a double. It may be difficult to determine when the actual change in shape took place, because clearly the rectangle and square types of haversack were in use earlier than the mid 18th century, and were perhaps at that time referred to as a "scrip". Time, place and language obviously play their part in the history of these bags, so perhaps we should not concern ourselves too much with which is which, rather than accept the fact that all were used in the early to mid 18th century.
Ferdinand Kobell, travellers with a knapsack 18th century.
Fran├žois Boucher  1753.
Jacques Callot, Beggar  1648.
1672-1708 BEAR LEADER
Beggar-on-his-crutches-from-behind-Jacques Callot 17thc

Further Reading: The 17th Century Snapsack By Al Saguto. PDF.



Cincinnatus said...

This is excellent! There is a huge debate regarding the 18thc use of haversacks by civilians. Intersting to see that the word was interchangeable with snapsack and was attributed to several different formats. Thanks for posting! I did have a few questions, what is the number of the Diderot plate, and what is the source for the first engraving? Thanks!

Keith H. Burgess said...

First image url:

Diderot image:
Page 426
Planche 10

Regards, Keith.