18th Century Purse Pear Shape Circa 1720 or earlier Museum Quality
We are delighted to offer this rare survivor that came to us from the deceased estate sale of a lifelong textile collector - her wonderful textile pieces ranged from the 1600's through to the 1930's.
This small purse often referred to as a sweet bag is English in origin and dates from the end of the 17th start of the 18th century. See an identical sweetmeat purse at the Simone Handbag Museum in Seoul and an identical shaped purse with silver frame and parrot design at The Met Museum. Also see a similar fruit designed purse example at The V& A ( a bunch of grapes), also similar bellows needlework purse at the V & A museum made by Martha Edlin and found in her casket. See also an identical shaped purse at The Palace of Holyroodhouse, part of The Royal Collection that is reputed to have belonged to Mary Queen of Scots.
Our purse definitely mimics a soft fruit. We know from history that pears and quince were both popular during the 16th and 17th centuries. We see the green outer flesh and seed or stone to the center. This small palm sized purse is worked in a ground stitch with silver metal passing thread giving a couched appearance. We are not stitching technique experts unsure if it is Elizabethan ground stitch, half stitch or trammed!! All that we can say for certain is that the overall effect of the concentric couched pear shape is fantastically accomplished. Around the outer perimeter is a hand worked braid of silver wrapped thread (file). To the inside is a very vibrant woven silk lining of salmon pink, cerise and white striped. Whether this little purse is unfinished, perhaps waiting for its metal frame or whether it was a pomander for holding sweet smelling herbs...we are not sure.
Size: Just under 4 1/8" by a little over 3.5"
Condition: Excellent for an extant piece of this age. There are signs of aging. The silver passing to the outer braid is very rubbed, exposing its white silk core. The silver passing to the colored thread shape has obviously dulled a little but still sparkles to give a flavor of its original vibrance. The silk interior is pristine. This delight has seldom if ever been used. Museum worthy indeed.
We strive to offer rare and sought after items of costume and early textiles. Please view our forehead cloth fragment( Coif) from a similar period in history.
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