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Whaler & Co. No.7 Leather Mailbag Review


Dec 29, 2010
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My dad used to call them dinosaur skin. The venerable companion of every postman, “neither rain or gloom or snow...”, has faded into the history as a Ford 100 pickup. A leather mail carrier’s bag, a real one, is a rare find. The surviving few, indeed, appear to have been through rain and gloom and snow, hundreds of times. In other words, all in tatters.

But what gorgeous tatters! I personally have seen two Japanese dealers getting into a fist fight at the Rosebowl market over some tatters. Another time saw some tatters on the shoulder of a hippie chic walking down Ashbury Street in a San Francisco autumn, the sight has etched itself in my memory. Sounds kind of crazy. But it is like that.

I have since bought about 3 of these tatters on eBay, every time with the intention of “for better or for worse; through thick and thin...”. In the end the sad truth is, even with a gentle touch and some of the overpriced priced leather oil, they have all disintegrated over my bleeding heart. The mileage is just too high. There is nothing I can do. Once it is over the threshold, once you can see a small dry tear near the edge, you know it is all over. Even the best of the three, bought near mint, developed this fatal condition and died. I don’t know if the hippie chic still has the one she’s got; I wish I could swap bag tips with her.

Someone said: a real piece of art must not have any type of real life functionality. Does this mean all of these gorgeous beings have turned into art? Despite a basic utilitarian previous life? I’ll be darned!

So when I find myself searching for just another one of these gorgeous tatters—guess where? eBay. Sorry, I just can’t help myself—my eyes get wide.

The Whaler No. 7, as the company calls it, comes from the workshop of Whaler & Co. I emailed the eBay seller and guess who answered--Whaler & Co. The response was that they had developed a mail bag, based on the mail bag, only better than the mail bag. I don’t think so, thank you very much. But the pictures looked good and I found a cute little film on their website.


The price is steep. I don’t think I have ever paid that much for anything on eBay. On the other hand, I have never seen a film on eBay either.

So I took the chance. A week later, The No. 7 arrived in the mail. And I have to say I have never quite seen anything like it.


I am a little bit concerned to carry it to work, in the same way that I would be a little bit self-conscious to drive a Lamborghini to work. It is a little bit like that—I am not sure if I am ready to be called “the man with that bag.” I think I might have to let it settle in a little bit before taking it out to town.


The leather is thicker and stiffer than any other mail bag I have handled, giving it a rather nice volume. Pretty wide even when empty, which contributes to a completely different carrying experience. Almost like driving a car, I am constantly made aware of its size. I got used to it quickly and I like it. To a medium-size guy, I can imagine this being the perfect size for someone tall. If I had another chance, I would have perhaps ordered it in one size smaller.



I also like the fact that the strap can been wrapped around the body and a large shoulder pad worn across the chest, biker messenger style.

The No. 7 is well made. The rough edges on the original have been rounded. The inside surface is smooth as well as on the outside. Copper rivets all around just like on the original, only this time have been properly set with rounded tips. The improvement goes on to include a self-adjustable collar and pleats so that the top can be worn open, closed, expanded or cinched. All accomplished with shiny button studs.




What’s not pictured here is the shoulder pad, which I think has a nice touch. A three-ridged design made the whole thing feel like a glove.

I don’t know when would be the next time I will be shopping for another mail bag. This one had me a little bit overdosed. If nothing else, it has saved me from the unhealthy obsession. The next treatment is indefinitely delayed.



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