The Museum of Bags and Purses, Amsterdam

I visited the world's largest collection of bags at The Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam. Impressive and well worth a visit if you're interested in the history of bags and checking out the vast range of designs and materials used throughout the decades.


This is the oldest (and not the prettiest) bag in the museum and is from the 16th Century, France. It is made from goat's leather and has 18 pockets!

Did you know that 'man bags' were actually what kicked off the whole bag trend. Men would carry bags for their hunting equipment, a practical necessity long before the need to carry a bag for style purposes.


Letter cases were popular in the 1700-1800 for keeping love letters and bills. Usually made from leather, silk or straw, and embroidered with metal thread or silk. Letter cases were often given as gifts for weddings and engagements. Although not really a bag, the concept of having a decorative object to carry something of importance was required.


Decorative bag handles. I'm afraid I didn't note down the dates of these but we can see that bags were becoming much more of a fashion and statement piece and not only for practical reasons.


Ivory parcel carrier with silver rings. Early 1900. This is a precursor of the plastic bag and you would tie what you wanted to carry on to the handles. Quite an interesting concept and it could really challenge the idea of the 'bag for life.' Have a handle and string for life instead!


Beaded bags were popular in 1700-1800 and could take about 2 weeks to make! Each coloured bead is individually threaded before being knitted into a bag. We can really see the level of detail going into creating this kind of bag and can imagine the price tag attached! I'd imagine that this style of bag would be very expensive and it would be quite a privilege to be seen wearing one of these.


This is a really fascinating object. A chatelaine was a symbol of power for the medieval lady of the manor. Evolving through the years, a lady would hang her valuables such as her bible, keys, purse, fan, sewing box. These went out of fashion in the early 1900's when the handbag arrived. It's basically the contents of a bag hanging off of chains.


Here we can see the leap from having a bag purely for practical reasons to having a bag purely to make a fashion statement. Novelty bags and the use of plastics became popular in the late 1900/early 2000.

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