In the 18th century, fancy needlework represented a well-schooled woman's contribution to the beauty of family possessions. Women stitched stunning chair covers, bed furnishings, floor rugs, fancy embroidered pictures, women's pockets and pocket books which were most often carried by men. These envelope-shaped pocketbooks or wallets were used to carry money as well important documents which today, we would keep in a safe or a safe deposit box. Since normal households did not have access to safes, this allowed men to carry these documents on their person so they were safe from fire or theft. When women carried these envelope-shaped pocketbooks, they were most often used to carry jewelry.
Today I am listing 3 of these 18th century American needlework wallets. This pocketbook measures 4 1/2" x 8 1/2" is is embroidered in Irish stitch, single-ply wool yarn over canvas. It is in what, today, we call flame stitch pattern, although our ancestors would not have known that term. The colors are rose, pinkish-salmon, purples, grey, greens, ecru and tan. The interior is a faded rose-colored glazed wool and has two compartments. The wallet is bound with rose-colored twill tape around the edges and green tape across the top flap. The green tape may be an early repair because the stitching is not as well-done. Sewn to the flap is a green ribbon which would have wrapped around the wallet to close it. The ribbon has been broken and is knotted together. This one has very little thread loss and the interior wool only has a couple of holes and a few stains. This and the two other pocket books that I'm listing were found stuffed inside a stenciled papier mâché purse in the upstairs ball room of the Silas Hastings Tavern in Boylestown, Massachusetts. Lovely holiday gift for an antique lover, don't you think? The last photo shows all three wallets that I'm listing today.
(#5256) Sale Pending