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  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1630-1650 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen, silk, silver and silver-gilt threads; hand sewn, hand embroidered, hand plaited

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery, case 9

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 rather simplified pattern of flowers worked in heavy silver and silver-gilt threads and dense texture of the embroidery on this example is characteristic of the period 1630 to 1650.

Physical description

A flat square bag of linen with couched ground of silver thread, embroidered with silver-gilt purl, strip, thread and spangles. The bag has silver loops, a silver and coral silk plaited drawstring and finials, and was once lined in pink silk

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1630-1650 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen, silk, silver and silver-gilt threads; hand sewn, hand embroidered, hand plaited


Length: 13.2 cm approx., bag only, Width: 12.7 cm approx., bag only

Descriptive line

Bag, embroidered linen, 1630-1650, British; silver & silver-gilt thread, purl, strip, with 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.100


Linen; Silk taffeta; Silver thread; Silver-gilt thread


Hand sewing; Hand embroidery; Plaiting


Textiles; Embroidery; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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