04 January 2007

Two Books About Purses

If for no other reason than that I own both the books pictured at left, I am a lucky dog. The top, Handbags, and bottom, Bags, are about, duh, purses. And though they have that in common, there is little else the same about them. First, there isn't much duplicate information in them, even though they cover the same time periods, production sites and techniques. Handbags includes interviews, brief biographies, and brand histories of the best contemporary purse designers and companies. The purses are organized by style, which allows a 2001 Jamin Puech to appear directly before a rare English purse from the 1550s, emphasizing a continuity of sorts--a harmony within this genre that has endured for centuries (see pgs 264-5).

By contrast, Bags is organized first by date, beginning with the oldest surviving examples of purses. Beca
use all the bags of a certain era appear together, it is far easier to imagine the time, appreciate the purse in its context. The emphasis here is on the history of the purse, whereas the Handbags emphasis was on the style of the purse. Bags also offers much more detailed information about materials, construction methods, and the historic context of each period's chosen forms. For example, this about Petit-point, lace and cloth:

Until the nineteenth century, fine needlework was performed not
only by women as a home industry, but also by professional embroiderers. Partly due to technological developments, the variety of needlework techniques increased sharply. Although less very fine needlework was done at that time, there were many techniques for making reticules, such as Berlin woolwork, blackwork, lace, weaving, embroidery, crocheting and knitting.
pg 248

So, there you have it. Both are heartily welcome in my library of things about which I probably know either too much or too little. But since I don't know which it is, I'll stop here.


Dad said...

Thanks, I will need to remember and quote you in the future at appropriate situations. "So there you have it........things about which I probaby know either too much or too little. But since I don't know which it is, I'll stop here." Love it!

Mary Ann said...

Well, since you seem to be my one and only reader, I'm glad you got something out of it.