Handbags at recent WI meeting

STOKES BAY WI were treated to ‘handbags’ at dawn as history was brought to life at their recent meeting held last Tuesday morning, with Sarah Delves from Bags of Glamour showing off her individual collection of vintage handbags and purses.

In a presentation by the specialist V&A lecturer, members were told that the oldest known purse dates back more than 5000 years and was a pouch worn by a man. Purses were also used to store personal belongings and coins together, with Tudor King Henry VIII said to keep his favourite jewellery inside a codpiece.

Angela MacCallum, Stokes Bay WI President, said “Sarah took us from the earliest days of handbags, made of quite unusual materials, and brought with her a gaming purse from 1660.  We felt very fortunate to see all the examples she displayed and she gave us quite a few tips too of what to look for and what to avoid if buying or selling handbags.”

“From long pockets tied around the waist, a silk opera purse decorated with melon seeds, a Victorian miniature suitcase and some sparkly handbags that would look the part in Downton Abbey, we saw them all.

“The most unusual handbag was made of Lucite – a type of transparent acrylic – that could be decorated and was very flexible.  In addition to handbags, Lucite was also used to replace glass in parts of submarines, aircraft cockpits and gun turrets used in the D-Day landings.”

She continued: “We even heard about the illegal trade in furs and skins that were originally used for handbags and purses.  We were very glad to know that it is no longer okay to use these items that were around as recently as the 1960s.”

Stokes Bay WI regularly hosts their meetings on the third Tuesday of each month unless otherwise stated by organisers. They take place between 10am and 12pm in St Mary’s Parish Centre, Green Road, Alverstoke, PO12 2ET.

The institute is always on the search for more members to join their friendly and helpful group; enjoying both companion and laughter in all meetings, outings, and interest groups. Stokes Bay WI has a motto of ‘Inspiring Friendship and Fun’ whilst conducting fundraising and WI commitments.

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