Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1660-1680 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Leather embroidered with silver and silver-gilt thread, cord and couched purl work, bound with metal thread braid, lined with silk

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr Peter Barker-Mill

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 54a, case 2

Object Type
A clasped frame, or 'snap-hance', closes this densely embroidered purse. The leather, now faded, was once a deep purple. The very heavy metal threads and purl (short lengths of metal thread curled tightly together like a minute spring) delineate a vase of flowers on one side and an indecipherable monogram on the other.

This type of fastening, more secure than a drawstring, may indicate that the purse was intended to hold money. In the 17th century gifts of coin were frequently presented in elaborately decorated purses. Such a container added considerable value to the present made, as well as disguising its mercenary nature.

Physical description

Small pear shaped purse of faded purple leather embroidered with silver gilt and silver thread and metal cord and couched purl work with some padding.

The purse, which is in two halves, is lined with purple silk and has a semi circular metal clasp at the top which opens with a spring controlled metal knob in the shape of a flower. The edges are bound with metal thread braid. Both sides of the purse are decorated with a solid border pattern of flower heads. In the centre of one side is a vase of flowers, in the centre of the other is a crowned monogram.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1660-1680 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Leather embroidered with silver and silver-gilt thread, cord and couched purl work, bound with metal thread braid, lined with silk

Marks and inscriptions

Crowned monogram


Height: 10.5 cm, Width: 9 cm maximum

Descriptive line

Purse of embroidered leather, England, 1660-1680

Labels and date

British Galleries:

By 1680 women used fewer pins when getting dressed. These pin cushions are much smaller than those used around 1600. The dense, metal thread embroidery also leaves little room for pins. Some contemporary writers mocked the variety of luxury trinkets to be found in a lady's dressing room. [27/03/2003]


Leather; Gilt; Thread




Accessories; Fashion; Europeana Fashion Project


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.