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This late 19th-century Victorian handbag is knitted in monochromatic gold-tone threads and crystal beads with a triple looped beaded fringe.
What is interesting about the beading is that it starts as thin lines widening as it descends into a swag design. Just as fascinating, the knitted and crystal panels are joined along one another’s side. Most often beads are sewn on top of the knitted threads or silk fabric. Notice the horizontal rows of the golden crystal beads at the top. Note how the design deemphasizes the silver-tone, probably German-silver, frame, and chain. What you cannot easily see is the silk lining with a possible pocket sewn inside.
I wonder what essentials a lady of that period carried in her large 10” long bag. In years past a handkerchief was included, possibly a coin or two, keys I imagine, and what I find fascinating is ammonia smelling salts. (Corsets were strongly tightened, so tight that a woman was prone to fainting spells.)
I recently posted a beautifully designed handbag framed in a gold iridescent moulding and purple raw silk mat. This flared handbag and the other posted handbag are both beaded and from the same period — yet they are very different in style and design. The difference is due to the changing times. The pineapple handbag’s design holds on to the past, late Victorian, while the other reflects the Art Nouveau style.
The term Art Nouveau was first used in the 1880s and its theme was based upon curving shapes, flowing lines of flowers and the female form. The movement was created for the masses and not for the high-art of high society. Art Nouveau was meant to be spiritually uplifting to people of all classes.
When Queen Victoria died in 1909, the Victorian age ended. The new King Edward VII was already the leader of fashionable elite. Art Nouveau flourished. It was a time of peace and prosperity–that is until World War I.
The flared handbag is framed in an iridescent gold shadow box from Europe, hand-sewn to a moss and gold raw silk which is mounted over a museum rag board mat. The shadow box is lined with the same fabric and the glazing is conservation glass. It is backed with rag-covered foam board and finished with moisture proof Tyvek and coated stainless steel wire.
The handbag along with its framing is stunning.