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A man carrying a satchel.
Carrying a satchel, hanging straight
Traditional style Cambridge satchel

A satchel is a bag, often with a shoulder strap.[1] The strap is often worn so that it diagonally crosses the body, with the bag hanging on the opposite hip, rather than hanging directly down from the shoulder. They are traditionally used for carrying books.[2] Unlike a briefcase, a satchel is soft-sided.


The satchel became a fashion accessory and was popular during the 17th century.[citation needed]

The traditional Oxford and Cambridge style satchel is a simple design that features a simple pouch with a front flap that fastens using double-sided buckles. Variations include designs with a single or double pocket on the front and sometimes a handle on the top of the bag.

There are exhibits of this type of satchel in London's Victoria and Albert Museum; they were donated in the 1930s.[3] Photographic and artistic evidence predates those physical examples.[4]

The traditional school satchel fell out of popularity around the 1970s and 80s as cheaper versions became available from new manufacturing countries around Asia pacific region, such as China, Indonesia, India, etc.

The classic Oxford and Cambridge style satchel has begun to see a comeback as manufacturing costs increase in China. There are still a number of authentic makers of this style of satchel in the UK and a number of large new factories have set-up especially to cope with the increase in demand.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Satchel,, Accessed 28 October 2009
  2. ^ Satchel,, Accessed 28 October 2009
  3. ^ exhibits
  4. ^ artistic evidence