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Amongst our Costume Collection are a variety of dress accessories, including handbags…

They all have a story; fashions may have changed, but most early examples are just beautiful to look at. And knowing how they were made is sometimes jaw dropping!

We will explore some of the stories, and who were the famous owners of some of the bags, another time. Meanwhile, enjoy a sample.

All these bags and purses date to the mid 19th century and are therefore nearly two hundred years old. This one was manufactured in such a way as to have a three dimensional pattern on it. This isn’t printed fabric, there are rectangular cells all over the surface.

This gloriously blue bag has an outer ‘shell’ created from thread made from grasses!

This elegant bag is velvet and the foliate decoration is made of tiny slivers of horn.

And finally for today, an ingenious purse. It is made up fabric cut and sewn in a single sausage shape, with sliding rings which can form and separate and keep secure, two pouches for coins. It could be held in a simple way, in the hand, wrapped around the wrist, or tucked into a belt. Why doesn’t someone re-invent it for youngsters who don’t know what to do with their handbags on the dance floor…?

Thank you to the Costume ladies, who promise more on this later.