Purses and handbags have been traced back to the 14th Century, and have always been an indispensable practical necessity, a symbol of the feminine mystique, and eventually evolving into a fashion declaration for all. It is difficult to imagine not having these marvelous objects of clothing accessories that come in so many styles of fashion, creating a unique statement! The history of the handbag is quite interesting and an enjoyable bit of information.
Imagine arriving in style with medicines, a prayer book and rosary beads or guns, daggers and keys? In the 14th-15th Centuries this is what you would have carried in your girdle, girdle pouches, hamondeys, tasques and chatelaines or chaneries. They were linked with love and marriage as a traditional betrothal gift. In addition, in the 16th-17th Centuries your pockets, swete bagges, drawstring purse would have held your seeds, spices and herbs, precious jewels and gems, gold coins and food stuffs. It is important to realize, all under your skirt!
Arriving in style in the 17th and early 18th Centuries your “over the skirt” reticules or indispensables (if you resided in England) would have carried a few essentials such as beauty aids and smelling salts. Interestingly, at the end of the 17th century, designs moved from simplicity to become more sophisticated and complex in nature.
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