Sweet Bag Data

Now we get to the tricky part of shared research. I found many sweet bags by myself by perusing textile collections on museum websites. However, when I started corresponding with Melinda Sherbring, she and I shared data for our studies. The list of sweet bags below contains the sweet bags that I found. I have not listed Melinda’s data here. To get that information, you’ll have to buy her book when it comes out.

I have listed the websites for these items in my research paper’s bibliography. However, museums update their websites all the time and I the links may not work. So, if you want to see these items, go to the museum website and search their textile collections using the numbers below.

Art Institute of Chicago

  • 1966.150

British Library:

  • c17a21
  • c194c27

Boston Museum of Fine Arts:

  • 38.1229
  • 43.1075
  • 43.1077
  • 43.1082

Buckingham County Museum, Aylesbury, England AYBCM:198031 (Image no longer available online.)

Burrell Collection, Glasgow, Scotland

  • 29/310

Cleveland Museum of Art:

  • 1944.283
  • 1946.416

Fenton House, London

  • FEN/T/48 (Listed in George Wingfield Digby. Elizabethan Embroidery.)

Manchester Gallery of Costume, England:

  • 1951.441
  • 1984.60
  • 1960.246

Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

  • 1986.300.1

Museum of London

  • A.6089

National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh

  • Janet Arnold, “Patterns of Fashion 4”, pg. 53

Victoria & Albert:

  • 316&A-1898
  • 52&A-1954
  • T.10-1922
  • T.53-1954
  • T.87-1935
  • T.17-1957
  • 244-1896
  • 658-1904
  • T.247-1950

Sweet Bags found in Books
There are some sweet bags found exclusively in books, most notably books by Tomasina Beck and Barbara Snook. Note that sometimes the bags have no provenance due to the author not sharing the data in his or her book. They are sweet bags, but where there are located and who the owners are is unknown.

Museum Websites
1. British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB, England, http://www.bl.uk
2. Buckinghamshire County Museum, Church Street, Aylesbury HP20 2QP, Bucks, England, http://www.buckscc.gov.uk/museum
3. Burrell Collection, 2060 Pollokshaws Road, Glasgow, G43 1AT, Scotland, http://www.glasgowmuseums.com/venue/index.cfm?venueid=1
4. Cleveland Museum of Art, 11150 East Blvd. Cleveland, Ohio 44106-1797 http://www.clevelandart.org
5. Gallery of Costume, Manchester. Platt Hall, Rusholme, Manchester, M14 5LL England, http://www.manchestergalleries.org/html/costume/goc_home.jsp
6. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Ave at 82nd St, New York, NY http://www.metmuseum.org
7. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 465 Huntington Ave. Boston, Massachusetts 02115 http://www.mfa.org/home.htm
8. Museum of London, London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN, England, http://www.museum-london.org.uk
9. Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, London SW7 2RL England, http://www.vam.ac.uk


1. Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion 4. Macmillan: 2008.
2. Arnold, Janet. Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d. Manny: 1988.
3. Arthur, Liz. Embroidery at the Burrell Collection 1600-1700. John Murray in association with Glasgow Museums: 1995.
4. Beck, Tomasina. The Embroiderer’s Flowers. David and Charles: 1992.
5. Beck, Tomasina. The Embroiderer’s Story: Needlework from the Renaissance to the Present Day. David and Charles: 1995.
6. Bennet, Shannon. Personal correspondence.
7. Digby, George Wingfield. Elizabethan Embroidery. Thomas Yoseloff: 1964.
8. Foster, Vanda. Bags and Purses. London: Batsford, 1992.
9. Harris, Karen. http://www.larsdatter.com: 2007.
10. Holdaway, Shirley. Festive Elizabethan Creations. Georgeson Publishing Limited: 1998.
11. King, Donald, and Santina Levey. The Victoria & Albert Museum’s Textile Collection: Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1750. New York: 1993.
12. Marshall, Sheila. Elizabethan Needlework Accessories. Georgeson Publishing Limited: 1998.
13. Sherbring, Melinda. Personal correspondence, 2008.
14. Snook, Barbara. English Embroidery. London: Mills & Boon, 1974.

Data Exclusion
When I originally wrote this paper, I excluded any sweet bag that was not an embroidered sweet bag. Since then, I have widened my definition of what a sweet bag is to include the beaded and tapestry examples that I have found. This means I’ll have to go back and re-do all my statistics, but for right now, the original text from my research paper is below.

Beaded Bags
These bags are shaped correctly and have tassels, but they are beaded, not embroidered. “The development of the ‘drawn-glass’ technique about 1490 allowed the manufacture of large numbers of small, round, coloured beads with a central hole.”

Exact dates are possible because they were included in the beading of the bag. For example, the ‘hit or miss’ bag is dated 1628 in glass beads. The saying was “first recorded in the English language in William Shakespeare’s play Troilus and Cressida published in 1606, where it has the same meaning of random luck that it has today.”

Small bags of netted glass beads which are lined with leather represent another style of bag that is the appoximate size of a sweet bag and is made during the same time period, but it is not considered a sweet bag. These netted bags may confuse a novice researcher who may be tempted to include this type of small bag into their data set because there are so few bags available for research. However, I did not include netted bead bags in my sweet bag data, as they are another form of craft outside the scope of this research paper. I included references to these bags to let you know that they exist. If you like working in netted glass beads, you can use these references as your starting point.

  • V&A T.250-1960. England, 1628. 3.5″ x 5″.
  • V&A T.55-1927. England, 1634. No size given.
  • Tassenmuseum, Amsterdam. TMH 1254 England, 1630. No size given.
  • Art Institute of Chicago 1969.162, England, 17th Century. 5″ x 5 5/8″.
  • Art Institute of Chicago 1978.320, England, 17th Century. 4 1/8″ x 7″
  • A “Presentation Bag” from page 75 of Virginia Churchill Bath’s book, Embroidery Masterworks: Classic Patterns and Techniques for Contemporary Application: From the Textile Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. England, 17th century, 4″ x 4 1/2″
  • “Hunter Bag” An unattributed bag from a private collection found on page 37 of Tomasina Beck’s book, The Embroiderer’s Story: Needlework from the Renaissance to the Present Day. No size given.

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