The Masterpieces

The Museum of Bags and Purses owes its existence to its extensive collection of over 5.000 bags, pouches, suitcases, purses and other accessories showing the history of the handbag in Western culture from the late Middle Ages to the present day, including the work of contemporary designers. The museum is the only museum of bags and purses in Europe and the largest of its kind in the world. From the beginning, the collectors, Hendrikje and Heinz Ivo, always acquired items for their exceptional quality, design, the use of special materials, shapes and individual histories. As a result, the collection now receives international acclaim for its variety and quality. In 2014, Fodor’s travel website named the Museum of Bags and Purses as one of the 10 Best Fashion Museums in the world.

Read more about the masterpieces and find below a selection of these masterpieces.

  • Leather bag with tortoise shell inlaid with mother-of-pearl, Germany, 1810-1820

    Hendrikje Ivo’s long-term love affair with bags began with a purchase from an English country village antique shop. This tortoise-shell plated bag, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, signalled the beginning of her collection, which is now world-

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  • Leather clutch in the shape of cruise ship ‘Normandie’, France, 1935

    First-class passengers received this clutch as a present on the occasion of the maiden voyage of the Normandie, the most luxurious cruise ship of the time. The Normandie sailed from Le Havre via Southampton to New York.

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  • Leather travel case with canvas cover and engraved silver toiletries, Scherk, Germany, 1937

    This case with canvas cover and engraved silver toiletries was owned by Prince Bernhard (1911-2004), the husband of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands (1909-2004). From the estate of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, anonymous donation.

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  • Leather and silk letter case with embroidery, France, 1806

    The French miniature painter Favorin Lerebours painted this young woman’s portrait. The leather and silk letter case containing her portrait and an embroidered love poem may have been presented to her husband as a keepsake for their long

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  • Beaded coin purse showing the arrival of the first giraffe in France, 1827

    The first giraffe in France, Zarafa, was shipped to Marseille in 1826 as a gift from the Egyptian viceroy to the French king Charles X (1757-1836). During her six-week jaunt to Paris, Zarafa’s entourage of two Egyptian caretakers and 100 milk

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  • Aluminium handbag with plastic trim, France, ca. 1930

    This aluminium handbag decorated with plastic is a prime example of industrial technique and a symbol of the modern age. It is also one of the very first examples of modern design and the personal favourite of the museum’s director, Sigrid Ivo.

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  • Goat’s leather belt pouch with iron frame and with 18 pockets, some behind secret closures, France, 16th century

    Originally, bags were useful consumer articles, for both men and women, because the clothing of the period had no inside pockets. As a status symbol for an aristocratic gentleman, this buckle bag with its 18 secret compartments was worn attached to

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  • Evening bag, Gianni Versace Couture, Italy, 1997

    At the 1997 première of the film Evita, leading singer and entertainer Madonna carried this textile evening bag. Her dress and shoes for this occasion were created from the same material.

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  • Snakeskin handbag with ivory plate, “Eve and the Apple”, Germany, 1920s

    This snake leather bag with a cut ivory plate with the image of Eve picking the apple is the favourite bag Hendrikje Ivo, the founder of the Museum of Bags and Purses.

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  • Evening bag ‘The Cupcake’ adorned with crystals, Judith Leiber, USA, 2007

    This cupcake-shaped bag is completely adorned with Swarovski crystals. It became immensely popular when a replica bag was featured in the film Sex and the City.

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  • Silk bridal bag with portraits in enamel on copper, Limoges, France, 1725

    This purse is part of a series of bridal purses that were produced between 1690 and 1760 in Limoges, France. The portraits of King Louis XV and his bride, the Polish princess Maria Leszczynska, are fashioned from porcelain, enamelled on a copper

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