The Gypsy people, or Romani,  traveled from place to place working as tinkers, metalworkers, horse traders, fortune tellers, and entertainers. As their way of living and transportation evolved, they began to switch from tents to wagons. The caravan, or Vardo, was a finely decorated, carved, and painted one-room wagon.







"Inside the wagon the atmosphere is snug and homely, and the finer vans have an almost regal splendor. Almost everything one needs is to hand. Even in winter you need never be cold. The fire in the stove, if built up with windows closed for half an hour, will so heat the rails near the roof that they will be too hot to hold." ©From The English Gypsy Caravan by C.H. Ward-Jackson & Denis E.  

This called for an equally eye-catching but strong horse to pull it. This horse was also needed to be hardy to survive the harsh winters without shelter and survive on what can be found when grazing along the roadside.  Gypsies are credited with creating the breed we now know as the Gypsy Vanner Horse, a breed which went largely unnoticed until the 1990s.



In 1996 two Americans, Dennis and Cindy Thompson,  discovered one of these gorgeous horses while visiting England. The adventure that followed led to the recognition of the breed and its subsequent introduction to the United States. The Thompsons also founded the Gypsy Vanner Horse society.

All breeds have a history and the people that bred these magnificent horses prided themselves in passing down the bloodline information from generation to generation.The Gypsy Vanner is thought to be a mix of The Shire, Clydesdale, Dales Pony and Friesian.



"So to be able to pull all this, their horses had to have solid, weighty bodies, huge bone, thick necks, wide chests and a great layback of shoulder. They had to have strong legs and large feet. They had to be unflappable in any situation and absolutely solid and reliable in their interaction with humans, including children. They had to be tough enough to exist in the harshest of weather and often on meagre food sources. They had to be able to pull a caravan all day if necessary covering sometimes 40 miles or more on hard roads or muddy lanes. They had to have a willing work ethic and always do what was required of them. In the past, most existed on what was found growing along country roads when the family camped for the night, so they had to be what we refer to today, as easy keepers"- Original Source Unknown.


Horses that were not up-to-par were sold or traded. Some became workers in cities for the rest of their lives.


London in 1920. This Vanner and horse, worked for the London and North
Eastern Railway, who operated their own baths for the
Vanner horses





Delivering milk crica 1900. 


Brooklyn Supreme was a purebred Belgian Stallion who stood 19.2 tall and weighed in at over 3,200 pounds (or so they say). He was foaled in Iowa in 1928 and died in 1948.


"Dennis Thompson and his late wife, Cindy, changed the destiny of the selectively bred gypsy horse when they introduced them to the American public, they also established the first registry to give the horses a name and an organization to track the closely guarded, original bloodlines, of the Romany Gypsy breeders." - Gypsy Vanner Dreams

SOURCES
Gypsy Lore Society- http://www.gypsyloresociety.org/
The Gypsy Lore Collection. University of Liverpool
Gypsy Vanner Dreams- http://www.gypsyvannerdreams.com
Belladonna Gypsy Farm- http://www.belladonnagypsyfarm.com/gypsy_vanner_history.htm
Vanners.org - http://vanners.org/about-the-breed/history/
 The English Gypsy Caravan by C.H. Ward-Jackson & Denis E.  1986 Amazon


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Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries had its humble beginnings as an idea of a few artisans and craftsmen who enjoy performing with live steel fighting. As well as a patchwork quilt tent canvas. Most had prior military experience hence the name.

 

Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries.

 

Vendertainers that brought many things to a show and are know for helping out where ever they can.

As well as being a place where the older hand made items could be found made by them and enjoyed by all.

We expanded over the years to become well known at what we do. Now we represent over 100 artisans and craftsman that are well known in their venues and some just starting out. Some of their works have been premiered in TV, stage and movies on a regular basis.

Specializing in Medieval, Goth , Stage Film, BDFSM and Practitioner.

Patchwork Merchant Mercenaries a Dept of, Ask For IT was started by artists and former military veterans, and sword fighters, representing over 100 artisans, one who made his living traveling from fair to festival vending medieval wares. The majority of his customers are re-enactors, SCAdians and the like, looking to build their kit with period clothing, feast gear, adornments, etc.

Likewise, it is typical for these history-lovers to peruse the tent (aka mobile store front) and, upon finding something that pleases the eye, ask "Is this period?"

A deceitful query!! This is not a yes or no question. One must have a damn good understanding of European history (at least) from the fall of Rome to the mid-1600's to properly answer. Taking into account, also, the culture in which the querent is dressed is vitally important. You see, though it may be well within medieval period, it would be strange to see a Viking wearing a Caftan...or is it?

After a festival's time of answering weighty questions such as these, I'd sleep like a log! Only a mad man could possibly remember the place and time for each piece of kitchen ware, weaponry, cloth, and chain within a span of 1,000 years!! Surely there must be an easier way, a place where he could post all this knowledge...

Traveling Within The World is meant to be such a place. A place for all of these artists to keep in touch and directly interact with their fellow geeks and re-enactment hobbyists, their clientele.

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