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  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1600-1650 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen, silk, silver thread, silk thread; hand sewn, embroidered and plaited

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Many decorative early 17th century bags survive, but it is not entirely certain how they were used and worn. They are too delicate and elaborate to serve as receptacles for money carried on one’s person on a daily basis. Few commercial exchanges in the early 17th century required cash, and most household shopping was done by servants. However, they were used as a form of gift-wrapping for the presents of coin that were offered as a New Year’s gifts to the monarch.

These embroidered bags may also be the ‘sweet bags’ frequently listed in inventories and offered as gifts. These held perfumed powder or dried flowers and herbs, and were perhaps applied to the nose like a pomander when necessary.

The pattern of roses, carnations, sweet peas, grapes and pomegranates is typical of English embroidery designs in the early 17th century. Embroidery pattern books of the period feature a range of flowers and fruits, inspired by illustrated botanical books and herbals.

Physical description

A flat, square bag of linen worked in tent stitch with a ground of silver thread and floral pattern in coloured silks. The bag is square with plaited silk drawstring, silver loops and finials, and lined with pale blue taffeta.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1600-1650 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen, silk, silver thread, silk thread; hand sewn, embroidered and plaited


Length: 10.3 cm approx., bag only, Width: 11.0 cm approx., bag only

Descriptive line

Bag, embroidered canvas, 1600-1650, British; silks on metal ground with plaited strings tassels


Linen; Taffeta; Silver thread; Silk thread


Hand sewing; Hand embroidery; Plaiting

Subjects depicted

Grapes; Sweet pea; Carnations; Roses; Pomegranates


Textiles; Embroidery


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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