This is a lovely handbag/ purse and likely part of a mourning outfit from 1870-1900, Victorian Era when mourning was a ritual of tradition including mourning for three years minimum, if your husband passed away.
Queen Victoria set the mood and traditions while she dressed in black and in mourning for 40 years! She set the standards for Mourning Etiquette in England as well as Europe and the U.S,. The woman would wear black for three years if she lost her husband. (1 year mourning for a child) In her second year she could add purple or burgundy to her black garments, in small amounts like a belt or collar. This let people know where she was in her mourning cycle. In her third year she could add a little more color like lavender or purple. Neither children nor men could speak to her first. She would have to acknowledge them in order for them to speak to her, until her three years were up! Grim. Now you know why those women in "Gone in the Wind" made such a fuss when Scarlett danced with Rhett when she was in full black mourning clothes! Of course the purse had to be black as well as the outfit.
Okay, now about the purse. It is in close to pristine condition. The handbag has a loop around the straps made of antique black glass buttons. The beads on the side are also of black glass in small and tiny size beads. A few beads are missing, but hard to tell because just a few are missing and they are so small. It is overall in great condition. Looks like it wasn't used much at all, or if at all. It came in a very old box, which I threw out as it disintegrated but kept the purse close to pristine all these years. It could be in a museum.
The purse has a very rich, thick satin fabric to it. It is made with wonderful quality. Not like fabrics we have now! The fabrics then were exquisite in some of the clothes. This folds down to be flat but you can also stand it up, it opens like a box! Quite elegant looking. Could be worn with formal wear today as it is beaded.
The body of the purse / handbag is 10 inches (25.5 cm) when laying flat and add another 7" (17.8 cm) for the straps. When it is standing the body of the purse is only 7 1/2" (19 cm). It has some "stays" in the sides which help hold it up when open but lays completely flat when not in use. Beautiful and oh, so clean!
Thank you for stopping in, "Time in a Bottle" and I hope you'll check out my other antique and vintage purses, handbags and other Vintage and Antique Vanities!
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Item ID: 18M320
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