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Change Coin Purses - Facts & Tips

As long as there has been coin money, change purses have been in use.  Men were the first to carry coin purses, as they were the sole family member that controlled the finances during past centuries.  The Ancient Persians would pin there coin pouches to their undergarments, hence the term "pin money".  From early times, coin purses remained on the belt or under the clothing, allowing for free hands. During the Middle Ages, small pouches to carry coins hung from massive chains or jeweled belts.

By 1800, the miser purse, also called the stocking purse, came into fashion and was worn over the belt for safer traveling.  This elongated bag was knit, crocheted or netted with silk thread and decorated with fringe, tassels and beads, many of which were steel cut.  The opening of the miser is in the middle of two larger sections of the purse where a narrow section remained unbeaded.  Two metal rings would push down on each of the sides to secure the purse after coins were deposited.  Many times miser bags were designed with one round end and one square end so the owner could distinguish what would be carried on each side.

During the 1800's, little coin purses were constructed of charming hinged shells, many had vibrant mother-of-pearl type finishes.  Hand painted on the shells were lovely florals or sentimental inscriptions like "My heart is Yours".  These souvenir purses remained popular throughout the Victorian era and into the early 1900's.



The sovereign purse, used through the 1800's, carried English gold coins.  These small purses were made of leather, suede or metal and sometimes were smaller than an inch in diameter, made to resemble a locket or pocket watch.  They were hand painted, engraved, embossed and enameled.

The Tam O' Shanter coin purse was a novelty of the early 1900's.  It had a rounded and beaded bottom section which was attached to a round metal purse top.  Often the beadwork was knit into a star or spiral pattern.  The top might have been sterling but was typically nickel silver over brass with repousse or embossed designs of coins, portraits and Art Nouveau florals. Magazines offered instructions for making these purses at home.

By the 1930's, women soon sought the more eloquent coin purses imported from France, Belgium and Austria.  These more elegant change purses would often match or coordinate beautifully with their full size evening handbag.  Though the Depression and World War II had taken it's toll, women maintained a sense that femininity must keep it's place in everyday fashion.  Woman thought it admirable to remain pretty despite the economic and social atmosphere.  Since they lacked much to carry, their change purses became an important accessory for promoting and preserving style.

Since coins often left behind staining, both men and women have consistently engaged in carrying a separate purse for their metal money.  Your coin holders and change purses will stay cleaner if you remove extra coins between use, especially if you live in the more humid moist climates.

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