Research: Bags across time, cultures and geographies

Topic 1: Bags across time, cultures and geographies

Why were there bags in the 15 – 18 century?

They were necessary for carrying money and other personal items, since clothes hadn’t yet been fitted out with pockets. The introduction of pockets started towards the end of the 16th century meant that the men’s bags slowly disappeared in the course of the 17th century. From then on, bags belonged almost exclusively to the women’s domain.

1600 – 1700 A.D. – A Bag for Every Purpose

Velvet pouch with silver balls, the Netherlands, 1st half of 17th century – Purpose to carry money for women
A beadwork purse with inscription ‘Remember the Pore 1630’, England, 1630 – designed for wedding bags or for carrying a Bible.

1700 – 1800 A.D. – Hiding and Showing Off

Abiti Antichi Chatelaine in argento –  small utensils, such as perfumed ball and scissors can be attached to it

1900 – 2000 A.D. – New Forms

Women have bags for every occasion at any time of the day.

Leather evening bag with enamelled adornment, France, ca. 1915
Magazine clutch ‘Jours de France’, Hong Kong, 1970’s


Insight: Bag size used to be small in the past, now it is bigger as more woman are employed.

How bag can give signal:

“If the Queen places her handbag on the table at dinner, it signals that she wants the event to end in the next five minutes.’

China’s handbag history

Different kinds of texture

Beaded bag
Linen bag




Tassen Museum: Museum of Bags and Purses

A Timeline of the Most Coveted It Bags Through the Years

How Queen Elizabeth Uses Her Purse As a Secret Code

Good Orient – Fine Asian good

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