Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1600-1650 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

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

  • 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 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.

Physical description

A flat, square bag of linen worked in tect stitch with silver thread ground and coloured silk scrolls, flowers and leaves. The bag was once lined in coral-pink silk and once had a drawstring.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1600-1650 (made)



Materials and Techniques

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


Length: 12.2 cm approx., bag only, Width: 12.8 cm approx., bag only

Descriptive line

Bag, embroidered canvas, 1600-1650, British; silk on silver ground, floral pattern


Linen; Silk taffeta; Silver thread; Silk thread


Hand sewing; Hand embroidery

Subjects depicted

Roses; Borage


Textiles; Embroidery


Textiles and Fashion Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.