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Women’s Handbags Change
With Fashions

The handbag, also known as a woman’s purse, didn’t make its appearance until the end of the 19th century. Prior to that, both men and women dangled small drawstring bags from their belts.

These early functional pouches were called aumonieres, and used basically for carrying coins and other small essentials. A somewhat fancier version used by the ladies by the end of the 18rh century was a drawstring bag called a reticule.

As women began to enter the work force, the handbag as we know it today became a necessary fixture in a woman’s wardrobe.

And by the start of the 20th century, it also became a fashion accessory. There was no holding back on the styles and materials used, as the handbags followed the fashion trends through the decades. From alligator skin and chain mail to silk and beads, it has allbeen used to make handbags.

Although it was published in the 1990s and the values listed are questionable in today’s market, A Century of Handbags (Schiffer Publishing), by Kate Doomer, is a delightful look at this fashion accessory.

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