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Bellows for inflating wineskins

AnonymousXIX - XX centuries

Gordailua, the Gipuzkoa Heritage Collection Centre

Gordailua, the Gipuzkoa Heritage Collection Centre

Four-legged blowing mechanism: this is a horizontal bellows, operated using a hand lever situated above the nozzle. The air is pumped from the bellows through a hose. This means that a single person can work the bellows with one hand and hold the hose in place the other. The bellows in itself consists of two wooden boards joined by a thick piece of leather. Air is sucked in when the upper board is raised and then expelled when it is lowered. This bellows was not used to kindle the fire in the hearth or forge; it was meant for inflating animal skins.

Light and difficult to break, these skins were widely used for preserving and transporting different liquids (typically wine) and grain. It has since been supplanted by other materials. Although there is still a market for the smaller individual wineskins and coopers now specialise in making casks for ageing wine, the larger skins are rarely manufactured today.

This piece was acquired by the San Telmo Museum in 2008. The inscription in French on the top shows that this piece was made by –or in the workshop of– the heir of G. Pepin, at No. 110, Rue Notre Dame in Bordeaux.


Garmendia Larrañaga, Juan. Zagigintza = El fabricado del pellejo. In: Euskal esku-langintza = Artesanía vasca. Donostia = San Sebastián : Auñamendi, 1970. IV, 18-27

Inventory number: STM-012626-001

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  • Title: Bellows for inflating wineskins
  • Creator: Anonymous
  • Date: XIX - XX centuries
  • Physical Dimensions: 80x63x31 cm
  • Provenance: Bordeaux
  • Type: Tool
  • External Link: San Telmo Museum
  • Medium: Wood, Metal, Leather


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