c1815-20 Green Silk Purse 680.2012.53
This week's Museum Monday number is 680~ a beautiful bottle green silk purse, or reticule, as purses were referred to in the early to mid 19th c, this one, circa 1850-20. One nearly identical in shape can be found here at the Met Museum.
Construction is very simple with a single strip of silk taffeta gathered front and back onto two pieces of kid leather. The materials used are what gave this purse its class and fashion~ the silk taffeta was easily enough acquired by anyone at the time, but the gilt stamped green kid would have been expensive.
The back piece is cut with a flap at the top that folds over and catches a button. We see a dorset button has been used, but it was once covered with matching green silk taffeta as evidenced by remains still on its underside.
Examining the corners of the kid, the overlap of the gilt design tells us a roller was used, as commonly was used in bookbinding. I have two different pair of children's shoes in the collection here with gilt stamping on the vamps, so am of the opinion that book binders most likely sold stamped kid leathers for their customers to take and have made up in to shoes, purses and other little trifles
We dont see many of these purses surviving because of just how fragile they were when made~ thin tissue silk taffeta is all that held the two front and back pieces together~ there is no lining in any of them I have studied.