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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1600-1650 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen, embroidered with silver-gilt and silk thread in tent, Gobelin and plaited braid stitches

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Miss Winifred Mary Bompas

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

In the 17th century, decorative purses such as this one were rarely used to carry money. Their wealthy owners engaged in few commercial exchanges requiring cash. Some were used as 'sweet bags', holding perfumed powder or dried flowers to cover body odours in an age before regular bathing. Other purses served as a form of 'gift wrapping' for small presents or gifts of money. Purses could contain mirrors for grooming or function as sewing kits which held needles, thread and tiny scissors.

Most English embroidery designs of this period are inspired by flowers and plants, often copied from illustrated botanical books and herbals which were very popular at the time.
The thick application of the metal thread and extensive use of metal purl gives the purse a very rich three-dimensional texture.

Physical description

An embroidered purse

Place of Origin

England (made)


1600-1650 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen, embroidered with silver-gilt and silk thread in tent, Gobelin and plaited braid stitches

Descriptive line

embroidered canvas, 1630s, English; Silks on metal embroidered ground, silk strings

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

John Lea Nevinson, Catalogue of English Domestic Embroidery of the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries, Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Textiles, London: HMSO, 1938, p.98, plate LXIX

Subjects depicted

Birds; Flowers; Butterflies


Accessories; Embroidery; Textiles; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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