Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Some purses from the St. Thomasguild Part II

This post continues with two more purses in use by us. Both purses are of the frame-purse type (as described by Olaf Goubitz in the book 'Purses in Pieces' (ISBN 9789089320148). This book gives an excellent presentation of all the purses and pouches in use in medieval times, with reconstructions based on actual (Dutch) finds. His focus is on leather purses, but the given purse types apply to fabric purses as well. Some of the intriguing purses in this book have two sacks instead of one. He divides the different purses into four kinds:
  • Double ring purses, where both bags hang side by side.
  • Secondary ring purses, where the second - smaller bag - hides within the larger bag.
  • Hinged-ring purses, where the second 'half' ring swivels on the first ring. Depending on the place of the half ring (up or down), either the smaller bag or the larger is open.
  • And finally double harp-framed purses, which are basically the same as the other double purses, but with their ring frames shaped like a D.
Drawing of a double ring purse from the Leather museum in Offenbach, Germany. 
Drawing from O. Goubitz Purses in Pieces.

Above. Drawing by O. Goubitz of a secondary ring purse. Right. Drawing by O. Goubitz of a leather find in Dordrecht, the Netherlands of a secondary ring purse. 

Drawing of a hinged type purse by O. Goubitz, showing that the small bag is open when the hinge is down, and the large bag is open when the hinge is up.

Left: A double ring frame for a purse from Italy, 1450. MAK, Koln, Germany. Right: A D-shaped hinged ring frame made from latten inlaid with niello. Late 15th century, British. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK.

Two iron double ring frames with a suspension swivel. Amsterdam Historic Museum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The left purse frame measures 12 by 9 cm and has small holes in the ring to attach the bag part of the purse. The holes are such that the two rings support two bags hanging next to each other. The lobes of the right purse frame point such that the second bag hangs within the first. Images from O. Goubitz's book Purses in pieces.

A 16th century iron hinged-ring frame from the museum Booijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. It measures 17 x 13.5 x 1.5 cm. Image from the museum website, drawing from O. Goubitz.

Interestingly, Racaire (of the marvellous Racaire Embroidery and Needlework blog) has made photos of such a (very posh) double ring purse from south Germany of 1550 on display in the Hof Jagd und Rustkammer in Vienna, Austria. Only two images of this purse are shown below, the others you can see at her Flickr photo stream

The double purse from the Hof Jagd und Rustkammer, Vienna, Austria. 
The tassels of the drawstring are made up of three different colours. Photo copyright by Racaire.

Side view of the two ring frames with purses hanging from one purse bar. Photo copyright by Racaire.

I find these double purses fascinating, and it is no wonder that my daily purse in use as guild-master of the St. Thomasguild is such a double purse. We did use a brass purse bar with a single harp frame from Medieval Design (an Italian firm providing re-enactment stuff) and added an extra brass harp frame to it - luckily there was just enough space for it. The outer layer of the pouch is made from black velvet, the inside is of red silk. The silk drawstrings end with either two rubies or two gold beads. The front flap of the pouch is embroidered with the heraldic shield of our guild. The ends of the bags each have a double black tassel of 6 cm long. The sizes of each purse are: top width 12 cm, bottom width 29 cm, diagonal edge length 19 cm, flap length 10 cm.

My purse laid flat, showing both trapezium shaped bags.

Left: The gold and ruby beads at the end of the drawstring. Middle: The red silk inside of the pouch. Right: The heraldic shield of the St. Thomasguild with compass, plane and axe, together with the spear of St. Thomas.

The double purse with both bags standing side by side.

The second pouch is one that Anne uses for special occasions (feasts and castles). This pouch is a trapezium-shaped single harp-frames purse. Several of these ring/harp-framed purses have survived from medieval times, most of them are religious treasures now, such as the late 13th - early 14th century ring-framed purse from the Our Beloved Lady of Nativity (O.L. Vrouwe van de Geboorte) church in Tongeren, Belgium. This purse likely once belonged to John (Jan) II of Brabant and Limburg (or his wife), as his coat of arms and that of his wife Margaret (Marghareta) of England are embroidered on the purse, and bequeathed to the church after his/her death.

The front of the purse of Jan II van Brabant. The purse is quite large: 30 cm height by 43 cm width. 
Photo from the KIK-IRPA database, Belgium.

Left: Detail from the embroidered front of the Jan II van Brabant purse. It is made from wool fabric with embroidery in silk and gold thread (long stitch). Right: On the back, plain twill damask (China, end of 13th-early 14th century). Photo from the KIK-IRPA database, Belgium.

Two photos showing the ring of the purse of Jan II van Brabant as well as the holes for the drawstring. Photos from the KIK-IRPA database, Belgium.

Anne's pouch is made of ivory coloured silk with a woven flower pattern. The inside of the pouch is plain silk. The edges of the pouch are decorated with two rows of 8 pearls, with a 7 cm long gold thread tassel at each end. The green-ivory drawstring end with two gold beads. The purse measures 12 cm at the top and 27 cm at the bottom with a diagonal edge length of 17 cm. The length of the closing flap is 11 cm.

The front of Anne's pouch with the flap closed.

Here you can see the double gold beads at the end of the drawstring, and the pearls around the edge.

Left: The front of the pouch with the flap opened. Right: The back of the pouch. 
You can see that the purse hangs on the harp ring, not on the purse bar.

1 comment:

  1. A great site, thanks for all the informations!

    As a little contribute, in Como was found a similar pouch in the Cathedral.