German tortoise-shell bag | Museum of Bags and Purses

The bag that started it all

Leather handbag with tortoise-shell plate inlaid with mother-of-pearl, Germany, 1810-1820
tortoise-shell, mother-of-pearl
Floral motifs

At an antique shop in the English countryside, Heinz and Hendrikje Ivo were captivated by this German tortoise-shell bag.

Its beauty and craftsmanship made it the first bag in their now extensive collection, which is now the Museum of Bags and Purses. This bag is probably German in origin, made during the first half of the nineteenth-century. It is leather, a material that became popular for travelling bags in this period due to its durability. However, the bag’s decorative plate with its mother-of-pearl floral motifs suggest that it was a bag for fashion as much as function.


On permanent display in the Museum of Bags.

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