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Bag

1600-1650 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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 flowers and fruits 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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Linen, silk, silver & silver-gilt threads, silk thread; hand sewn, hand embroidered, hand plaited
Brief Description
Bag of embroidered canvas, 1600-1650, English; silk on silver ground, plaited silk strings
Physical Description
A flat square bag of linen couched with silver thread and worked in tent stitch with coloured silks in a floral pattern. It is lined with pink silk taffeta and has a drawstring of plaited blue and pink silk with silver-gilt finials.
Dimensions
  • Height: 8.7cm (approx)
  • Base diameter: 17.5cm (approx)
Gallery Label
Bag. English; first half 17th century. Linen canvas embroidered with silver-gilt and silver thread and silk in tent and plaited braid stitches with laid work.
Subjects depicted
Summary
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 flowers and fruits 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.
Bibliographic Reference
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
Collection
Accession Number
555-1893

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record createdJuly 8, 2008
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