Do You Know Where The Purse Comes From?

by Hazel Smith - Date: 2006-11-07 - Word Count: 333 Share This!

The birth of purses dates very far back. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics illustrate pouches that were carried on the waist, which means that even back then they had a need to carry and keep track of small things.

The first time purses are talked about in literature is in the 14th century. At that time, purses were attached to the girdles, which were attached to the waist. These purses had embroidery and jewels on them, which showed status. If your purse was more decorated you were richer. Handbags became more practical during the 16th century. Everyday materials were used to make them and they were made larger so that travelers could use them. Men and women used the handbags in the 17h century if they were fashionable people.

The purses were smaller and the shapes of them became more unique. They began to stitch artwork on the purses during this time frame. During the 18th century the fashionable women began to carry the small handbags that matched their outfits because the larger purses would ruin the look of their clothing. The handbags were called reticules. The magazines all told the ladies different ways that they should be carrying their reticule. Rouge, face powder, a fan, smelling salts, visiting cards, a card case, and a scent bottle are what were typically found in a reticule at this time.

Then in the 1900's the men would carry hand-held luggage, which lead to the design for women's bags. It was at this point that they began to make separate pockets or compartments for glasses, makeup and the fans. Matching handbags were no longer a necessity by the 1920's. Plastic and wood on purses came about because of the war effort in the 1940's. Metal, zippers, mirrors and leather were hard to come by, so they had to come up with different materials for the purses.

Then the handbag designers really came about around the 1950's. The handbag designers of the 50's set the tone for our purses and handbags of today.

Hazel Smith writes for, a website packed with information on cigar box purses and travel purses.

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