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Purse

Purse

  • Place of origin:

    England, Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1540 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen, embroidered with silk in tent stitch

  • Credit Line:

    Bought with the aid of H. J. Oppenheim

  • Museum number:

    T.246-1927

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, room 58b, case 5

  • Download image

Object Type
This formal, heraldic purse associated with marriage has more significance than a purse used simply for money, or a 'swete-bag' used for carrying perfumed herbs to sweeten the atmosphere. Both men and women carried or wore pouches or purses. The long strings of this example suggest that it was intended to hang from the waist, but it is uncertain whether it was ever actually used as a container. English purses of this date are extremely rare and the survival of this one may be due to its formal role, which meant that it was rarely used and thought worth looking after.

Makers & Making
The workmanship of this purse is extremely fine with 1,250 silk stitches per square inch (194 per square centimetre). Most surviving canvas work is much coarser. Whether this suggests that a professional hand was involved or that the woman who made this was particularly skilled is not known.

Ownership & Use
Heraldic devices were displayed in many different ways, and their use on even small personal belongings such as this little purse indicates the important role that they had in proclaiming ownership and lineage. The heraldry on this purse reflects four marriages (that is, four family alliances), culminating in that of Sir Henry Parker and Elizabeth Calthorpe. This shows the significance attached to the family 'pedigree' by the parties involved.

Physical description

Four panels in a shield shape, each embroidered in silk in tent stitch on linen with the coat of arms of the Calthorpe family.

Place of Origin

England, Britain (made)

Date

ca. 1540 (made)

Artist/maker

unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Linen, embroidered with silk in tent stitch

Dimensions

Height: 15 cm including tassle, Width: 10.2 cm, Depth: 15 cm

Object history note

Probably made to commemorate the marriage of Sir Henry Parker (died before 1553), to Elizabeth Calthorpe
Enbroidered in England

Descriptive line

Arms of the Calthorpe family

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.97, plate LXVIII

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This purse is formed of four shield-shaped panels, each carrying coats of arms showing the arms of a husband (left) with those of his wife (right). The purse emphasises that the marriage of Sir Henry Parker (died before 1553) and Elizabeth Calthorpe was an important alliance similar to those of earlier generations of the family, represented on the other panels. [27/03/2003]

Materials

Silk; Linen

Categories

Embroidery; Accessories; Heraldry

Collection code

T&F

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Qr_O74959
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