Thursday, May 15, 2014

1620 Man's Bottle Green Knit Silk Long Purse

LRM 708.2013.26

  Look vaguely familiar?  That would be because later Victorian era stocking and miser's purses were modeled after its most earliest counterpart~ the long purse.  In the later 18th c this type purse was also referred to as a stocking purse, as it is said that in medieval times, coins were held in the tip of ones stocking in the shoe.  I am honored to have this c 1620 example here at the Museum and been wanting to share it with you for some time. It is nearly identical to, and one can say with 98% certainty, it was made by the same hand as the one who knit the following example now held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art
You can follow this link here to read info on their purse. Dating to 1620, these two keep company with only a handful of extant 17th c knit long purses, and yes, for a gentleman!

  Mine is knit of a fine bottle green silk with rows of real silver metal threads. The design formed from dropping knit stitches is nearly identical to the LACMA piece.
 Mine is missing the little tassel at the tip. It is not exactly known how these were worn on the person~( later in the 1830's and 1840's  they were worn lapped over the waist belt of both women and men). One theory, as they are so very large, is they were worn over the shoulder, under the doublett or jacket, hidden under the man's arm
 Silver metal ribbon trim is stitched on over the opening.  In theory, the early 18th c purses had but a single ring for drawing down over the opening to keep the coins safely inside, but neither mine, nor the LACMA piece still retains the original closing  ring
 The bottom of the purse is densely worked in metal threads over a larger cord netting. Coins were heavy, so the bottom was reinforced in this way~ both decorative but also allowing one to see thru it at what was inside
 The bottom is worked in 6 petal shape sections of buttonhole stitch with several strands of silver wrapped thread.

  One could be absolutely certain, that whatever precious whatnot they placed inside it, would still be there when they went to get it out!
 One of the things I love about early clothing and arts is the deceptive simplicity of them. They look very with this purse~ it is made from just three threads~ the knit thread and cord, both dyed in the same vat, and the silver thread~ the bottom and spiderwebs are multiples of the same single thread used for the knit stripes~ the techniques are basic, but the time involved in the making makes the pieces very complex.

 c1620, 16" in overall length from bottom to top. 

1 comment:

Megan Hodges said...

Thanks so much for the photos and commentary.