Chris Robinson from R and R Review (which is desperately in need of an update) pointed these out to me today, and I don't think I had ever seen them before. He was looking for a bag in anticipation of an upcoming trip to the Continent, and I believe that these are on his short list. I think these bags highlight a job-well-done on Bean's part of offering a classic item, as well as an updated version, so that they might satisfy customers who are looking for both.
According to the website, the Waxed Cotton Continental Rucksack is based on a bag that was originally introduced in 1930. It has all of the old school detail one could want: classic styling, waxed cotton construction, buckling leather straps, and (synthetic) shearling shoulder straps. Overall, this is a very handsome bag, and I think that one would be hard-pressed to find a better option if they were looking for this style of bag. And at $90, it is fairly reasonably priced.
The Classic Continental Rucksack is clearly a modern interpretation of the previous bag. While I am typically opposed to this sort of thing, I think that Bean did a good job of keeping the spirit and design of the original while giving it the modern features (zippers, recycled polyester construction, modern styling) to allow it to be a competitive choice with similar bags. And at $40, the price is really hard to beat.
If I had to choose one, believe it or not, I'd probably have to go with the waxed cotton one. It would be a tough decision, though.