I'm very happy so many of you have been enjoying my blog posts about our trip, particularly the images from The Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam. Thank you for your notes and comments. Also thank you to Angie who answered my inquiry about a herbarium. She wrote, A herbarium can also be a book about medicinal plants which would have been very helpful then, and now.
The next group of bags we saw were beautiful beaded ones. I certainly have a greater appreciation for these bags after visiting the museum.
Knitting with beads became popular at the beginning of the 19th century. It would take an experienced knitter two full working weeks to complete one beaded bag. First, she would have to string more than 50,000 beads in the right order according to the pattern. (I can't even begin to imagine doing this!) Once all the beads were strung she could begin her knitting. Because of the amount of time involved in making one of these bags, owning one was considered to be a true luxury.
Towards the end of the 19th century, a new and cheaper technique was developed--weaving with beads versus knitting with beads.
The majority of the commercially made bags were done in Czechoslovakia and Germany although many were also produced in Austria, France, and Italy.
The first photo shows a beaded bag in the process of being knitted. The string of beads is wound on the large spool in the upper-right corner.
I couldn't resist a photo of this beaded squirrel. He looks a bit "crazed" in my humble opinion, but I still love the piece.
Here are a few more bags and purses that caught my eye.
Also on display was this pair of beautiful gloves.
We also saw quite a few beautiful ivory needlework tools.
And then there were several exquisite chatelaines. A chatelaine typically hung from a woman's skirt waistband or belt by the use of a clasp or hook. Chains hung from the hook, and to those the woman could keep various items handy.
Perhaps you remember this photo from the Rijksmuseum that I showed you a few days ago. Did you see her chatelaine?
In the 16th and 17th centuries, the chains were ankle-length and may have held keys, a fan, a purse, a pomander, a notebook, smelling salts, a knife sheath, etc. In the 18th century, the chains were shortened, and often sewing tools were hung from them. Then, in the 19th century, new types of chatelaines appeared with notebooks, dance cards, perfume bottles, spectacle holders, and even little chatelaine bags. Chatelaines went out of fashion in the early 20th century with the development of the handbag.
The word chatelaine is is from the French word "châtelaine" meaning "lady of the manor". This is because the "lady of the manor" would hang her keys on chains attached by a hook to her waistline. Although the term was not in use until about 1828, the device had been used since Medieval times. In the Netherlands the device was called a "halter".
Chatelaines were made from gold, silver, leather, cut steel, porcelaine, and pinchbeck (an alloy of copper and zinc mixed in proportions so that it resembled gold).
We concluded out visit at the museum by looking at the more modern bags. Some of them were very strange to say the least, and since they were not embroidered we didn't take any photos of them.
If you ever go to Amsterdam, make sure you check out the Museum of Bags and Purses. You won't be disappointed.