School Book Bags: Brief Cases

Figure 1.--Here we see some Scottish boys with the briefcases that replaced the school satchels in the 1970s. Not all the boys had them, but many did.

British boys still commonly used the over-the-shoulder satchels into the 1960s. Then the brief case style briefly became common. British readers tell us that they were used at both state and private schools. They were much less well made and durable as the old satchel style. The style used was the folding attache cases, rarely the rectangular ones. A British reader tells us that they were much less common with girls. By the 1970s, vinyl sports bags began to replace them. These brief cases were not commonly used at American schools. I do remember some boys in high school had them in the 1950s-60s, but back packs were much more common. A British reader tells us a bit about the brirf cases used at his secondary school in the early 1970s. He notes they were soon displaced by sports bags. Our British reader tells us, "The image you have here shows the briefcases very clearly. You'd never see a boy today carrying one of these!. I think that they were supposed to be more "grown up" than satchells as some of the teachers had them too. One thing I do recall from looking at the image - these briefcases had locks on the front and boys who had them had little keys for them. Hardly anyone bothered locking their briefcases - but some did (especially the "swats") and sometimes they could not get them open once they got to school. The locks were pretty useless and would jam. We had to carry our bags around from lesson to lesson in school. There were no lockers or anything. At breaktime we would all pile the bags up in the corner of the playground and play football. Sometimes when a boy who was playing football had locked his briefcase some of us who had not done the homework to be handed in that afternoon would pick the lock with a broken biro (it was easy!) and try to get hold of the answers. You could gaurantee that boys who locked their briefcases also had done the homework - odd that!" There were none of these "backpacks" then as I recall. The sports bags were all hand held.Boys preferring backpacks now in the main for school shows that they too prefer bags that leave the hands free like the old satchells."


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Created: 6:50 AM 7/10/2005
Last updated: 6:50 AM 7/10/2005