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Monday, 29 May 2017


A purse is a small bag that is used to carry money. Most men usually keep their money in their wallets which they keep in their pockets, while women usually use purses.

The oldest known purse was found with Ă–tzi the Iceman who lived around 3,300 BC. It contained some magic mushrooms.

Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs show pouches worn around the waist.

Model of an ancient Roman leather purse

Bishop Nicholas of Myra who died in Asia Minor in 343 had a reputation for secret gift-giving. He is said, for instance, to have helped three poor girls by throwing purses of money through their window. The idea of Santa Claus coming down chimneys to deliver presents has its origin in that story.

The purse-lid from the Sutton Hoo burial is a very elaborate, probably royal, metalwork cover for a (presumably) leather Anglo-Saxon purse of the early 7th century. About seven and a half inches long, it is decorated with beautiful ornament in gold and garnet cloisonné enamel, and was undoubtedly a symbol of great wealth and status. It is thought to have belonged to Raedwald, King of East Anglia, who died around 624 AD.

Sutton Hoo purse-lid

Geoffrey Chaucer the author of Canterbury Tales also wrote several notable ballads such as " his empty purse."

By the 1400's both men and women were wearing purses, and as times prospered and the little sacks got fuller, they were ornamented with gold or elaborate embroidery.

By the end of the 1500s, women preferred to wear their purse pouches under their skirts.

The phrase to hold the purse strings means to bee responsible for budget and expenditure. This refers to when purses consisted of leather pouches, closed at the top by a drawstring which would be tied to a belt or hung around one’s neck.

In the 17th century, purses became more complex and elaborate. Girls were taught skills such as embroidery and needlework that could assist them in finding a husband. These skills gave rise to stitched artwork on these purses.

Man's purse probably France, 17th century

In the 1670s breeches with built-in pockets came into fashion and men dispensed with their elaborate purses. But they did continue to carry a little netted "purse" for money inside the pocket.

In the 1920's, as dresses got skimpier, and purse pouches impractical, separate handbags for females' money (and other items) became indispensable, and have remained so until the present.

The metalliv pieces in the original 1935 edition of Monopoly included a purse. In 1952 Scottie dog, wheelbarrow and horse and rider replaced lantern, purse and rocking horse.

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