This incredibly wonderful type of embroidery is one of the oldest stitches known. This example appears to be made of fine silk threads, which have a soft sheen, and incorporate both short and medium length stitches. The intriguing aspect of this masterpiece is the inclusion of the workmanship known as stumpwork, in where all of the faces, arms and legs are raised, offering this purse an abundance of dimension that goes well beyond the depths of the scenery. This purse is an alluring work of art which affords a sophisticated meeting of aristocratic figures along with architectural grandeur and the majesty of nature.
I'm going to show you lots of photos because this purse has a lot to offer in regards to style, detail, character and design. The amount of effort that went into this project required a good amount of talent to accomplish this finished purse. The figural scenery is a combination of subtle romance, feminine ingenuity and imagination. This purse seems to tell a story, the details throughout are simply mind boggling. During the 14 years that I've handled purses, this is only the second one of these specifically structured types of purses that I have seen and the other purse was in quite shabby condition. I am happy to report that this purse has been well cared for and although it does show small signs of usage, this purse is not abused, distorted or worn, there are no snags and very few, if any, missing stitches. I would imagine that this well kept and preserved purse would be highly esteemed since so few have survived and aged so gracefully.
These close-up photos show the remarkable detail to the facial features, as well as the raised stumpwork. I am not an embroiderer but my understanding is that the stitches are padded to achieve the desired sculpted three dimensional effect. Stumpwork or "embosted work" was a very popular form of embroidery, originated in Elizabethan England and was used to embellish a variety of clothing and accessory items, including the occasional purse. Stumpwork gained a renewed popularity in the 19th century, so determining the age of this purse is based on detail, shape and style. I would say that this purse was made during the first quarter of the 1900's. Usually, only professional embroiderers were skilled enough to master this more difficult level of work. Please study all the fine details of this purse and determine that it is so worthy of your attention, that it must fit amongst your most treasured accessories and will hold a favored place in your vintage purse collection.
The many different pastel colors are showing very well in my pictures, although some could be a bit deeper in tone, here and there. Coloring includes both soft feminine shades as well as deeper hues of burgundy, Victorian olive green and varying tints of Wedgwood blues. The embroidery has "barely" taken on a tad bit of an aged look, it is basically clean, having no significant or detrimental discolorations, actually I see very little in the form of discolors on this purse. This is not what I would consider a delicate purse, it has a firm hand, in that I believe their is a stiffener between the embroidery and the lining, perhaps an extra layer of canvas or some other similar agent. Whatever the case, this purse is well constructed and appears to be in very fine structural condition. With the exterior of the bag being in such nice condition, I do believe that this purse has been in storage for quite some time and has not been carried for many, many decades.
The scenery on the backside of this purse is serene and peaceful. The meandering walkway and adjoining fencing is detailed with an urn sitting atop a column. The embroidery is just as refined on the backside with much attention given to every portion of the landscape. The walkway has two different shades of beige, giving it a very realistic appearance. The little flowers above the fencing have tiny raised dots in the centers and the background color, behind the flowers, is a little more of a blue gray than what is showing. The trees are marvelous but the brighter greens are a tad bit more olive in tone and the gray tones are perhaps more blue gray than what might be showing on your screen. Overall my photos show good color tones but the purse is just much nicer in person, much more dynamic and fascinating, indeed.
The embroidery wraps itself around the frame, exposing only the clasp, corner accent pieces and the handle attachments. The embroidery comes together with the tan beige satin lining. The photo of the side view of the purse shows all elements coming together smoothly, with no distortions, bends or open spaces. The interior shows some usage marks and general light aging, but no wears, tears or splitting of the fabric, it is all secure. I have not tried to clean the interior as I do not want to get the embroidery damp. The interior bottom of the purse has what looks like light pencil marks. The interior has dual pockets and a folder style center area. This is a relatively smaller interior, it will not carry much, just your absolute essentials, credit card, lipstick, compact, hanky, etc. The embroidered handle is well attached, it has no major problems but I have noticed that I must take a few stitches on the handle, where it has loosened over time. I am confident that I can stitch any small repairs this purse may need, with very good and satisfying results.
The clasp, corner pieces and handle attachment rings are a gold tone metal that have a lovely etched design. The metal, for the most part, is in very nice condition, showing minor wear on the clasp. The photo of the bottom of the purse shows it's more unique shape and also a couple of minor discolorations. I have made them look a little worse in the photo, you will be happy when you see that they are much fainter in true life. Now for the measurements: 6 inches from the top of the clasp to the bottom, 8 inches wide across the bottom tapering up to 7¼ inches across the top, the bottom of the purse widens to 2½ inches in the center and tapers to ½ inch at the sides, the embroidered carry handle drops 6 inches. I have looked this purse over several times, I think it is marvelous and anyone would be fortunate to add it to their treasury of finer and exclusive antique purses. It's hard to find vintage handbags like this in such respectable condition, it should be easy to forgive any small insignificant flaw. My only question, "Who will be the next woman to own this rare and extraordinary embroidered evening purse"?
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