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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1670-1680 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Edlin, Martha, born 1660 - died 1725 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered silk, silver thread and sequins, lined with silk and plaited

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Art Fund

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery, case 6

Object Type
This purse was among the contents of an embroidered casket used by a young girl, Martha Edlin, to store her small personal possessions. She would have embroidered it herself. It would not have served a practical purpose, and was probably an exercise to show her skill.

Martha Edlin (1660-1725) worked a series of embroideries during her childhood, including this purse, which were cherished by her descendants and passed down through the female line in her family for over three hundred years. We know little about her life, except that she married a man called Richard Richmond and appears to have been a prosperous widow, with daughters and grandchildren, living in Pinner in Greater London at the time she drew up her will.

Materials & Making
Following the usual development of needlework skills in a young educated girl in the mid-17th century, Martha Edlin embroidered a multi-coloured sampler at the age of eight, and a more complicated piece in whitework and cutwork at nine. By 1671, her eleventh year, she had embroidered the panels of an elaborate casket, and two years later a beadwork jewellery case. The needlework skills she demonstrated in these pieces would be important attributes in her adulthood, in the management of her household and in the making, mending and decoration of her own and her family's clothes.

Physical description

Miniature purse in the shape of a pair of bellows. The body is decorated with silver thread laid down in a spiral shape and secured with shades of pink silk. There is a central star motif worked in purl, and spangles attached (some are missing). The purse is lined with pink silk with a drawstring of plaited cord ending in an embroidered bead. There are two further matching (shorter) cords attached to either flat side. The nozzle of the bellows and the handles are wrapped in pink floss silk embroidered with loops of silver thread.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1670-1680 (made)


Edlin, Martha, born 1660 - died 1725 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered silk, silver thread and sequins, lined with silk and plaited


Length: 8.2 cm excluding cords, Width: 4.2 cm

Object history note

Purchased. Registered File number 1989/1572.

Descriptive line

Purse in the shape of bellows in embroidered silk, made by Martha Edlin, England, 1670-1680

Labels and date

British Galleries:

The small scale of each piece is further evidence of Martha's sewing skills. She used different stitches and techniques, like the flame stitching on the small pincushion and plaiting on the cords of the purse. [27/03/2003]


Silk (textile); Silver thread; Sequins


Embroidered; Lined; Plaited


Embroidery; British Galleries; Accessories; Fashion; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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