Skinflints & Penny-Pinchers: Miser’s Purses Revisited

A simple miser's purse.

A popular fashion accessory from the late 1700s until the early 1900s, miser’s purses are an ingenious answer to the necessity of keeping coins in place.  In order to insert or remove coins from a miser’s purse, the metal rings must first be slipped out of the way like this.

As these bags were used by ladies, embellishments prevail.  Steel beads, color work, and elaborate tassels make these tiny coin purses works of art in their own right.

A faded red cotton miser's purse decorated with beads, tassels and two rings. Black Country Museum's photo via Getty Images.

Miser’s purses were most commonly made via crochet and knitting.  (There are currently some patterns on Ravelry.  Just search “miser’s purses” in the patterns.)

Some lovely beaded miser's purses from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

If you’d like to take the plunge and make a miser’s purse of your own, here are some patterns for you:

1859 Purse in Crochet Beadwork

1882 Two Crochet Miser Purse Patterns

1888 Beaded Miser’s Purse Crochet Pattern

More Pictures & Information:

Peggy McClard Antiques Original Miser’s Purse

Costume Gallery of the Pitti Palace in Florence Miser’s Purse Collection

German Miser Bags

Short History of the Miser Bag

Highly In-Depth Treatise The Ubiquitous Miser’s Purse (.pdf, 137 pages)

And if you’d rather not make a miser’s purse but still want one, Backward Glances has a lovely Reproduction Crochet and Bead Miser Bag.  (She also takes custom orders.)

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