Civil War Era Antique Bag



Antique Bag

The instructions for this Civil War era “travelling bag” were provided in an 1864 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book. It requires two and half yards of 27 inch wide fabric (woolen according to Godey’s) and the same quantity of white calico (cotton) for lining; also two and a quarter yards of silk fringe. For the decoration, five skeins of white embroidery silk. Two ivory rings and some pearl buttons for the closure.


The pattern is not worked twice on the same side of the bag, but on one side at one end and on the opposite side at the other, so that both designs may show when the bag hangs over the arm. The bag is entirely lined with a pocket formed on each side. A slit is made in the center of the bag exactly in the same way as in a miser purse. Two rings are slipped over and the slit is further fastened by pearl buttons and silk loops. Each pocket is edged with silk fringe up to the slit in the middle. These pockets are very convenient to hold numerous small articles. The embroidery is worked in satin stitch, the inner part of the pine pattern being filled up with colored silk. The fabric should be stretched over an embroidery frame in order to be worked neatly.

Left: Bag is styled after a 19th century miser purse.

For modern day use, this bag is very easy to be worked up, being, in fact, nothing but a purse of very large dimensions. The embroidery can be eliminated and a useful bag can be made of plain materials, such as denim, wool, canvas, or even leather.  So when your food store asks, “Paper or plastic?” go green with a stylish reusable Victorian bag.