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Purse

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1600-1650 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered canvas with coloured silk, silver and silver-gilt thread and seed pearls, silk braid, lined with silk

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Sir Frederick Richmond, Bt

  • Museum number:

    T.53-1954

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Object Type
In the 17th century, decorative purses such as this own were rarely used to carry money. Their wealthy owners engaged in few commercial exchanges requiring cash. In addition to serving as 'sweet bags' or 'gift wrapping', purses sometimes contained mirrors for grooming. Others functioned as sewing kits, holding needles, thread and tiny scissors.

Materials & Making
The purse is made of fine linen canvas and decorated with cross, plait and Gobelin stitches in coloured silk and silver thread. Two large, pear-shaped tassels of braided silk hold the ends of the drawstrings.

Designs & Designing
The pattern of twisted and interlaced bands resembles strapwork, a style of decoration that originated in France in the 1530s and became popular throughout Northern Europe by the end of the 16th century. The use of roses and borage flowers, however, is typical of early 17th-century English textile design.

Physical description

Purse of embroidered canvas with coloured silk, silver and silver-gilt thread and seed pearls. Embroidered with a pattern of flower sprays and a lozenge diaper in tent, cross, plaited gobelin and interlacing stitches, and with knots. The drawstring is of silk braid with large tassels trimmed with pearls. Lined with light brown silk.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1600-1650 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered canvas with coloured silk, silver and silver-gilt thread and seed pearls, silk braid, lined with silk

Dimensions

Height: 13 cm including tassles, Width: 14.5 cm, Depth: 3.5 cm

Object history note

Embroidered in England

Descriptive line

Purse of embroidered canvas with coloured silk, silver and silver-gilt thread, England, 1600-1650

Labels and date

British Galleries:
PURSES

Purses were a common dress accessory and often very ornate. In the days before regular bathing, body odours were masked with 'sweet bags' containing perfumed powder or dried herbs. Purses also held mirrors or sewing equipment. Presents of donations of money could be 'gift wrapped' in a purse. [27/03/2003]

Materials

Canvas; Metal thread; Seed pearls; Silk thread; Braid

Categories

Accessories; Embroidery; Textiles; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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