In the past, the profession of a cooper was essential for supplying containers for storing and shipping products for manufacturers. A cooper is a craftsman that made and repaired wooden vessels. Containers crafted by a cooper were known as casks. The casks were usually round, made of thin wood slats and held together using steel bands. A popular use of these casks made by a cooper was to store whiskey. A cooper also made buckets and barrels, along with many other vessels used for storage.
All items that a cooper made was generally referred to as a cooperage. The cask is a piece the cooper made that contains a bulge in the middle like a barrel, but a barrel differs technically because it is a measure of the size of the cast. Therefore the name “barrel-maker” should not be used with the name “cooper.” The shop where a cooper makes the casks is also called a cooperage.
This occupation of a cooper originated in Rome a long time ago, previous to the Christian era. It expanded and prospered during medieval Europe. The cooper membership reached its peak in the last part of the 19th century. After this jobs for a cooper diminished quickly following World War I, because other materials such as steel replaced the cooper crafted wooden vessels that had been used in the home for churning butter, eating utensils, cooking and storing food, plus other items.
Today, people with the last name of Cooper can be certain that some of their relatives of the past had a great deal of skill and worked as a cooper in the traditional craft of cooperage making whiskey casks and other items such as tubs and butter churns.