About four years ago, my mum discovered a little black velvet clutch with goldwork embroidery and white beads at a flea market. Now she has found another one! It is clearly of the same general type, but with another goldwork design. Let's have a closer look! The first clutch was covered in detail in this blog post.
Contrary to the first clutch my mum discovered, I really like the embroidery on this one! The trellis is made with pearl purl #1. The junctions are covered with a cross-stitch using two pieces of rough purl #6. The trellis is completely filled with pretty little flowers. Each little flower is made up of four petals: a larger cross-stitch with two pieces of rough purl #6 with each 'leg' of the cross encased with a piece of bright check bullion #4. The border surrounding the trellis consists of rectangular shapes made of 9-10 parallel pieces of rough purl #6 encased by four pieces of bright check bullion #4. The rectangles are surrounded by more pearl purl #1 and pairs of large chips made of bright check bullion #4.
The bag has clearly seen much love :). Especially the bright check bullion has come unwrapped in many places. This is such a rough thread that you can easily imagine how it got caught on clothing. There is also a spot in the middle, a little off centre, where the threads are heavily tarnished. This is precisely where the thumb of a right-handed women would rest when she holds her clutch.
As I never received any comments on the first blog post regarding these fascinating little bags, I asked some experts for help. First up was the curator of the Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam. I was hoping that these bags are so common that she would be able to assess its provenance and age. Unfortunately, she couldn't as the bags have no label. However, she recommended asking Dr. Gilian Vogelsang-Eastwood of the Textile Research Centre in Leiden. As I've met Gilian years ago, it was really nice emailing my questions to her. Her suggestion was that these bags are not very old: second half of the 20th century and made by fashion houses for the tourist industry. It is clear to goldwork embroiderers that the embroidery on the bags is rather cheap and cheerful than exquisite. The construction of the bags is also rather simple and done with cheaper materials (see first blog post for details).
Personally, I still think that these bags were made by needlework enthusiasts rather than fashion houses or workshops. And I think they are a bit older: first half of the 20th century. And I think they were made, broadly speaking, in the Low Countries. If they were a cheap mass product from India, the curator of the Museum of Bags would have come across them before, I think. But what about you? What do you think regarding the age and provenance of these adorable little bags? Do leave your comment below!
the bag is so unique. where does your mother find such amazing treasures? i’ve never seen anything like them in the u.s. i have two of my mother-in-laws old beaded bags and they were, i believe, purchased in either in the late fifties or early sixties. i don’t use them very often as they are starting to show their ages but i treasure them for just being beautiful.
I don't know Sharon :). She does visit a lot of these flea markets! Personally, I never find anything, but I do not go nearly as often...
Hi Jessica, I agree with you that they look more first half of the century. Maybe next time your mother comes across one, she could ask the vendor. Some of them are very knowledgeable about what they sell or where it comes from. Perhaps the V&A in London can help you? They have a lot on fashion. Good luck!
Oh she does ask and you wouldn't believe the stories she gets told, lol. But more often the provenance is simply no longer known. But thanks for the tip with the V&A, hadn't thought of them. It is worth a shot!
I did contact the V&A, but they require you to come to the museum on one of their opinion days...
Thank you for your comment Dorte! So at least some of these bags are quite recent and probably from India. And I love your blog by the way :).
Thank you for your thoughts Rachel!
Hi Jessica. Im a Phd Scholar from India and doing my research on Zardozi. Bhopal in India is famous for the clutches you have mentioned here.
Hello, interesting reading. I recently acquired a cute little bag that I knew was something special as it reminded me of the antique "bullion" patches my husband collects that are military. My little bag actually has a sewn in MADE IN INDIA label. It's silver thread on white. It is cute!
Thank you for the additional information, Bernice!
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