• FA-124169 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
  • FA-124170 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Production Technology
before 1800
At the moment this object is not published in the museum.

Binderschlägel, um 1750


The depiction on the mallet illustrates its function: a cooper is shown using the mallet and a flattener to hammer barrel hoops into place. Depicted on the reverse side are a pope and a saint – might the barrel have contained communion wine?

Not directly, but wine does play an important role in Catholic rites. St. Urban is the patron saint of vine stocks and wine growers, and the feast of St. Urban’s on May 25 is an important date in the winegrowing calendar. Historical bearers of the name have included Pope Urban I (221-230), the sixth Bishop of Langres (5th century), and a disciple of Saint Gall in the 7th century. Which is why the depiction on the mallet at the Technisches Museum Wien features both a high dignitary and a saint.

For many centuries coopers manufactured the most important containers for transporting commodities in liquid and solid form. Their craft required a great deal of physical strength as the staves had to be bent to give the barrels their distinctive shape. The bellied drum shape of the barrels made them easier to roll along the ground and manoeuvre; it also helped to save storage space through stacking. The barrels were usually filled with foodstuffs, but they were also used to pack ores, books, scythe blades, petroleum and its by-products. The barrel, the equivalent of just under 159 litres, was introduced as the unit of volume for oil drums in the early days of industrial petroleum extraction, i.e. during the second half of the 19th century. Due to the increased demand the first machines for manufacturing barrels also went into operation around that time.

Coopers were particularly important in wine-growing areas. Some sovereign princes were highly ambitious in commissioning wine barrels in record sizes. The ‘Big Barrel’ at Heidelberg Castle for instance has a capacity of just under 220,000 litres and is the fourth barrel of its kind in Heidelberg; it was completed in 1751.

Date of origin: c. 1750

Manufactured in Neumarkt (Egna), South Tyrol

Inv.Nr. 8871
Member of