Gerald has been planning this competition for months, but finally, here’s the information.

Toolbox with Tools Competition    Lilies 2009       
Find Gerald with his dog wagon, or the “Great Machine”, near the showerhouse.

“Looks as Period as possible, is Functional, and actually take it to Events”

A toolbox is any type of container which holds the items necessary to practice a craft or trade.  The container may be made out of wood, metal, leather, fabric, or some other material.  The craft or trade may be that of the tailor, blacksmith, woodcarver, scribe, cobbler, fighter, cook, lace-maker, archer, herald, camp-follower or court official, just to name a few.

All of us have “SOMETHING” that we do, which requires some type of materials – tools.  Sometimes we only practice our trade at home, as it is too messy, or difficult to transport, or a host of other excuses.  Other times, we do practice our trade at events, carrying the necessary tools in convenient but garishly modern toolboxes, which can only be hidden by a well-placed cloak.  Too often the act of packing for an event involves simply tossing the tools into whatever is handy and will fit into the Tetris space in our vehicle.

All of these practices run counter to our stated goal of recreating the Middle Ages.  Tools were valuable commodities in period, hung carefully on the woodworker’s wall 1 or placed each in a separate compartment. 2   Traveling craftsmen would carry only what was necessary, but carry their tools they did. 3,4  The loss of the tools would be grievous, 5 likely bankrupting the craftsman, or perhaps only leaving his or her possession with their death.  Other times, the tools and containers were buried 6 with their users. Sometimes the containers were relatively plain, but many times they were nicely decorated. 7  Sadly, many types of organic materials do not survive the centuries well, so we must look for visual evidence of their use.

Consider well the trade you practice, and how you carry your tools.  Can it be improved?  Master Gerald Goodwine would challenge you to devise a toolbox that will fit the tools you wish to use, that looks period, is constructed in as period of a style as possible, and is functional.  Yes, functionality is very important.  You must display the toolbox with the tools inside, and the tools should not be jumbled together.  It should protect your tools during travel as if each tool was very costly, 8 and should facilitate your use of those tools at events.  If you determine it necessary to modify the dimensions of your toolbox from the example you choose to more neatly fit into your vehicle, that will not be considered a negative, but good as it will increase your frequency of taking your tools to events.  You can even document the places where you have taken your new toolbox, with photos of you plying your trade at events, and that will bring gladness into Master Gerald’s heart, and some benefit to your scoring.

The prize for this competition is a 12” double-edged, pattern-welded blade.  The “pattern” is a double star twist, and will be finished with a cross-guard ending in falcon heads, and a complementary hilt.

The competition will be held at Lilies 2009.  Find Gerald, and he will arrange a judging time.

For information – contact Master Gerald Goodwine – geraldgoodwine@windstream, or Lady Eleanor Deyeson –, or feel free to call (402) 269-3782, or write – Jerry Harder, 2089 J Road, Unadilla, NE  68454.

Below are listed some references, and you can likely find many more.  Enjoy the challenge!

  1. Images of Goldsmiths’s shop c.1576 – Engravings by Etienne Delaune. Tools are neatly hung on the racks, and stored in drawers.  Collection of the British Museum,  Search on Delaune’s name, which should bring it up.
  2. Writing Set c. 1570 – multiple partitions to hold different items – highly decorated with silver.  Collection of the Kunsthistoriches Museum Vienna  additional photos in German-only section
  3. Compartmented strong box c. 1600 – interior sections to securely organize and store valuables.  Collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum  then use advanced search and place Museum number W.21-1959 in the search field provided.  Alternatively, search for the word beech in the techniques section.  (The Victoria & Albert Museum unfortunately makes it hard to store information from their website, and also difficult to return to a specific item.)
  4. Traveling Mass kit c. 1535 – everything needed for a priest to celebrate mass while traveling, in a leather box.  Collection of the Museum of London –
  5. The Mästermyr Find:A Viking Age Tool Chest from Gotland by Greta Arwidsson and Gösta Berg, Larson Publishing Company, Lompoc CA,  ISBN: 0-9650755-1-6  ©1999 by Larson Publishing Company, original © 1983 by Greta Arwidsson and Gösta Berg.  Brief overview of project and image of originals at
  6. Needle case with needles and many tools in the grave goods, c. 850-950 – Collection of the National Museums of Scotland. Obviously, your competition entry should be more than just a needle case, but the point is that the Viking women were buried with many tools, and men were also.  Go to, and put “Westness ” in the Search box, and the needle case will be one of many items that come up.
  7. Scottish “leatherworkers” box c. 7th-10th century – Collection of the National Museums of Scotland – Item description state the box held a number of leather worker’s tools, and was found with a lid.  Neither the tools or lid can be found on their website, but the box is attractively carved.  Go to, and put “Evie and Rendall” in the Search box, and the toolbox will be one of the few items that come up.
  8. Mining Instruments in case – 16th cent. – Collection of the Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza, Firenze, Italy.  Viewed on the EPACT:Scientific Instruments of Medieval and Renaissance Europe website –

I’ll be editing soon to improve the links.  Check out the Material Culture Linkspages  for more images and artefacts relating to your particular craft.