A "cooper" (and the popular family surname which derives from it), refers to a person who makes or repairs wooden barrels. He would form the wooden "staves" (vertical slats of wood, carefully shaped to be wider at the centers and narrower at the ends), arrange them perfectly to form a tight barrel, bend them (with heat, water and tension), then lock them firmly into place with metal bands called "hoops." Making barrels was a time-consuming process, a skill which would take years to master. But good barrels were a necessity for storing foods, including liquids, and packing small items to ship. When a barrel is filled with liquid, it expands the wood, making the barrel even more watertight. When wooden barrels are to be used as wine casks, oak is the vintner's wood of choice. Sometimes a small fire is set within the barrel, helping to give the resulting wine a smokey aspect.
This hardwood barrel is a coin bank—finished with brass banding and a brass coin slot at the top. It was made in England in the 1950's and opens with a screwdriver. Click on the photo above to learn more about it.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques (www.mahlaantiques.com) or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248