On Saturday 7th February a new exhibition opened in Aberdeen’s Tolbooth Museum celebrating the Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen. The seven trades are Hammermen, Bakers, Wrights and Coopers, Tailors, Shoemakers, Weavers and Fleshers.
The Seven Incorporated Trades of Aberdeen is one of the most important institutions in the city of Aberdeen and it houses a collection of artefacts of international importance. The history of the individual Trades dates back to the medieval period when groups of craftsmen came together to protect their own interests, to create rules to regulate and manage their trade, elect a leader (Deacon), control quality of output, maintain their reputation and seek to look after the elderly and infirm of their trade.
Today the Trades are based in Trinity Hall, the third building of that name. Over the centuries they have amassed one of the most impressive collections of art, artefacts and furniture in Aberdeen. Many of these pieces were created as ‘essays’, or pieces of work, by individual craftsmen to show their eligibility to join their trade.
This exhibition, which runs until 1st May 2015, features some of their chairs which date back to the 16th century as well as coats of arms and crests of individual trades and documents from the city archives showing the role of the trades in the history and development of Aberdeen.
The Incorporated Trades have in the past been accused of being a very confidential and private organisation with limited contact with the general public. Over the last two decades the Trades have introduced an Outreach Scheme which is designed to have a more open relationship with the residents of Aberdeen so we welcome this opportunity to further display some of the treasures contained in Trinity Hall. Ex Deacon of the Wrights & Coopers Tom Ironside and the Artefacts committee have been instrumental in assisting Chris Croly of Aberdeen Council history department in the setting up of this exhibition.
Chris Croly said: ‘It is such an honour to host this exhibition. The Trades and their collections are one of the real jewels in Aberdeen’s crown. We have borrowed a small selection of their significant and rich collection but it goes someway to revealing the importance of the institution which has always played such an important role in Aberdeen.’
The Tolbooth Museum is open Monday to Saturday 10am-5pm and is closed on Sunday. Admission is free.