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Gaming purse

  • Place of origin:

    France (made)

  • Date:

    1660-1680 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Kidskin, silk, silver, silver-gilt; hand sewn and hand embroidered

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

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

This is a special purse for use at the gaming table, to hold money or counters. Its style is quite different from other 17th-century purses. The flat, circular base with sides gathered on a drawstring prevented spilling or revealing the contents, and the coat of arms on the bottom identified the owner.

This gaming purse is made of velvet dyed a bright orange-red, a colour known in the 18th century as ‘tawny’. It is embroidered with fleur-de-lys in silver thread on the sides. The coat of arms of Cardinal Duke de Matignon are embroidered in silk and silver gilt on the bottom.

Playing and betting on card games was a socially acceptable pastime for the wealthy in the later 17th century. Along with dancing, riding and the theatre, it was an amusement for those classes that did not have to work. The coat of arms identify the owner of the purse as Jacques de Goyon de Matignon who was consecrated Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church in Paris in 1673. The evidence that he regularly played and gambled on cards is appropriate to his aristocratic birth. Unlike certain sects of the Protestantism in the 17th century, the Roman Catholic Church did not oppose this popular entertainment.

Physical description

A gaming purse with round, flat base and gathered sides, made of kidskin covered with tawny velvet and lined with coral pink silk taffeta. The bottom of the bag is applied with silver tissue and embroidered with the arms of Jacques de Goyon de Matignon in silk and silver-gilt thread. The sides of the bag are embroidred with fleur-de-lys. The bag is gathered with a flat braid of coral and yellow silk and finials of silk and silver-gilt thread.

Place of Origin

France (made)


1660-1680 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Kidskin, silk, silver, silver-gilt; hand sewn and hand embroidered

Marks and inscriptions

coat of arms of Duke of Matignon


Circumference: 14.5 cm approx., Height: 6.2 cm

Object history note

Jacque de Goyon de Matignon was consecrated Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church on 16 April 1673 in Paris.

Descriptive line

1660-1680, French; tawny velvet with metal embroidery, arms of Cardinal duke of Matignon

Labels and date



Gaming or gambling with cards was a popular 17th-century pastime. A gentleman or lady who did not participate in games such as 'Quadrille' and 'Basset' would have been considered 'low-bred and hardly fit for conversation' according to 'The Compleat Gamester', published in 1674. Typically, a gaming purse had a flat, circular base with sides gathered on a drawstring.

Velvet, embroidered with silver and silver-gilt thread
Museum no. 1119-1869



Kidskin; Silk velvet; Silk taffeta; Silk thread; Silver thread; Silver-gilt thread


Hand sewing; Hand embroidery


Textiles; Games; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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