Thursday, December 28, 2017

15th-16th Century Purses

Taking advantage of the winter holidays to research and plan for the summer reenacting season.  I would definitely like to upgrade my 16th century gear for next summer, and some sort of a purse would be a very useful addition.  So, here's what I've been able to find of surviving original purses:

I. Frame Purses

The Museum of London has many medieval purse frames in their online collection, although I could not find any dated to the 16th century.  The number of different styles is impressive.

German 16th century purse The Met.
Silk purse with iron frame. German? 16th Century. The Met.

16th century Italian purse frame, The Met.
Purse Frame, Italian, late 16th century. From The Met.

16th century German velvet purse with tassels and metal frame, The Met.
Velvet purse, German, 16th century. In The Met.

15th-16th century leather European purse with frame, The Met.
Leather purse with iron frame. 15th-16th Century.
The Met.

15th-16th century velvet European purse with frame, The Met.
"Game Bag" with iron frame, drawstring closure, and tassels.
15th-16th century. The Met.

And an English example (again, slightly earlier):
15th century English purse frame. Victorian and Albert Museum.
Purse Frame. English. Late 15th century. In the VAM.

II. Drawstring Purses.

First, a nice, simple leather purse:
16th century Leather purse. British. The Met.
Leather Purse, British, 16th Century. From The Met.

And then there are the host of lovely embroidered purses:

Embroidered Heraldic Purse, c.1540.
Victoria and Albert Museum.
They have a French purse similar shape, dated c.1600.

British embroidered purse sweet bag. 16th century.The Met.
Embroidered purse or "sweet bag", late 16th century.
British. In The Met.
The VAM has a few similar ones dated c. 1600.
Spanish "Gaming Purse" with drawstring closure. c. 1575-1625. 
Woman's embroidered drawstring purse, 16th century.

"Hit or Miss" beaded drawstring purse, c.1628. VAM.
See also the "Gift of a Friend" purse.

III. Other.

This purse belonging to Cardinal Wolsley's purse is rather different from the others. It has a front flap, a lock, and belt loops:

Purse own by Cardinal Wolsley, c.1500-1529. UK National Trust

The VAM also has a few early 17th century purses with novel designs. Though outside the scope of this exercise, I found them an interesting development in what comes next.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. Very good resources. I have a modern one very much like the leather one, but without the very impressive sculpture on the frame. A few friends are very much into embroidering sweet bags.


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