Though hip flasks as we know them now were first seen in the 1700's, they have existed in other forms for much, much longer. Perhaps the most well renowned 'historical' version of a hip flask would be the animal skin containers that are so often seen in fantasy films and historical movies, like The Lord Of The Rings or Kingdom Of Heaven, which were worn on the owner's side (AKA hip); and though hip flasks have developed quite a bit since, the premise is still very similar.
We say similar, and not the same, because whilst animal skin flasks were primarily used to carry a personal water supply, engraved hip flasks, when not ornamental, are generally used to house a small, easy to access supply of 'Dutch Courage'. The reason why animal skin flasks are seen as a direct precursor to the hip flask, rather than as a parent to flasks and canteens in general, is that in the 18th century, around the same time as the introduction of hip flasks, women were known to smuggle alcohol onto docked ships and boats in pig's bladders.
It is not much of a stretch to assume that anyone who was forced to enjoy a gin directly from a pig's bladder would long for something a little less reminiscent of a sausage, so while the reason why metallic hip flasks quickly became popular is undoubtedly clear, it does not explain why they have remained consistently popular into the modern day.
Though they have varied in size, the design of hip flasks in general has changed little, if at all, since they were initially developed, and the reason why is also the reason behind their enduring popularity. Whether as a result of intentional ergonomic planning or intuitive blind-luck, the shape of a hip flask is flawlessly suited to its purpose – the surreptitious transport and consuming of alcohol.
Hip flasks are designed with a curved body, which as well as being aesthetically pleasing, allows them to conform to the shape of a woman's leg, so they could be tucked into a garter or stocking and hidden beneath their skirt, or sit comfortably inside a man's inner-breast pocket, and not warp the jacket's shape.
They were commonly used in this way for many centuries, and whilst high-quality engraved hip flasks ones were often too much of a luxury for anyone not of the higher classes to afford, metallic ones did become increasingly more accessible toward the beginning of the 20th century. Funnily enough when prohibition came to America in the 1920s hip flasks had never been so popular or widely used, though this likely occurred as a direct result of drinking alcohol being driven underground, as it were.
Nowadays hip flasks, decorative or otherwise, still enjoy a good deal of popularity, even amongst those who do not consume alcohol. Due to their attractive shape and versatile decorative possibilities engraved hipflasks are often given as gifts to loved ones, most commonly for wedding anniversaries and birthdays.
Though ranging in size and shape, we offer over 25 different hip flasks on Stylus Engravers, all of which would make the perfect gift for a friend, family member or yourself. Fancy taking a closer look at all the different styles of hip flask we have to offer? Why not pay a visit to our engravable Hip Flask category?