It is SO rare to find an original 18th century pocketbook purse case in this MUSEUM worthy condition. This rare, nearly pristine 18th century example has been safely stored and cherished over the centuries....it was discovered stored inside a 1770 Constantinople red leather wallet since sold. Oh my goodness this would make a luxurious purse for Bride to carry on a her wedding day, something borrowed and very, very old!! See an identical example held at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and a very similar cream quilted pocket book at Colonial Williamsburg Museum
Pocketbooks often referred as pocket cases, lettercases or wallets and they were an indispensable, portable accessory for the Georgian lady. These silk covered cases with inner pockets were used to carry everyday essentials such as letters, bills, receipts, essential sewing accessories etc (clothing was often pinned and quick fixes were a regular necessity). A pocket case was the Georgian equivalent to our modern day, purse or handbag or dare we say smartphone.....that could discreetly be carried in one's pocket. The 17th and 18th century lady did not have an outer handbag or stitched in pockets at her disposal. She wore separate pocket shaped bags suspended from a ribbon that tied around her waist. The pocket usually hung between her layers of underclothing and was accessed through side slits in her gown and petticoats. Here in these two pockets she would safely carry and store everyday essentials such as keys, notes, letters, watch etc out of sight or reach!!The pocket gave name to a number of items that were contained in it hence pocketbook and pocketcase. By the 1790s fashions changed away from large gowns to slender gowns; with no room for pockets underneath that would ruin the slim line silhouette an exterior purse or bag was required, hence the introduction of the reticule. See the very informative Candice Hern web page for background info and identical examples of 18th century Pocket Cases
This is an exquisite 100% original cream colored silk and beadwork pocketbook from the 1770's period. The cream silk satin expertly hand stitched to give a quilted effect. This pocketbook is very neatly made with the small stitches that you would expect from this period. We believe that this was given as a betrothal or wedding gift as indicated by the beadwork word Pledge or Gage found to the interior.The only additional color to the plain cream faux quilted exterior are the edges and the spine which are embroidered in a gold metal passing (flattened strips of gold plated metal wrapped around a yellow silk thread core). One opens the wallet style purse to find two open pockets with two additional pockets with envelope style flaps, giving four spaces in total to store your bibs and bobs. The left side top flap of plain woven cream silk with a banner design embroidered in gold passing. To the center of the banner is the French word GAGE (translates as Pledge) stitched in teeny faceted cut steel beads that glitter and sparkle just as they did in 1770!! The opposite flap is of the same design and has the French word D'AMITIE (Friendship) worked in teeny steel beads.
To the interior is a neatly stitched and never used matching removable thread case which unfolds to store five skeins of 9" long silk thread. To the inside of this unfolding thread is attached a matching wool flannel cloth needlework edged in the same gold passing thread.
Measuring pocketbook closed 5.5" by 3.5". Interior thread case closed 4" by 2.75"
Condition - This extant pocketbook is offered in truly wonderful condition free from any discoloration to the silk, holes or perishing. With the gold passing to the exterior dulled with age to a pewter/steel grey color but bright and gleaming to the pocket flaps. There is some thread loss to one of the side edge seems, an easy fix and its opposite side seem has received an old repair. This is a rare and a truly beautiful example that anyone would be thrilled to own. Made during the life of Marie Antoinette, what life it has seen, what tales it could tell.........
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