The Journal

8th April 2014

A Short History of the Use of Bags

(Image: Said to be the oldest bag discovered at 700 years old, crafted in 1300. It is said to be an early form of saddle bag or wallet.)

Bags are one of the most common accessories for both men and women and have been for as long as society can remember. Aside from practicality, which they were first created for, bags are now fashion statements and designed to the highest quality standards.

Early Use

Bags and handbags have been noted throughout history as far back as ancient Egypt – hieroglyphics depict men carrying bags tied around their waist (similar to a modern day bum bag). Peasants and farmers in early civilisations were known to carry seeds and grains in small bags and African priests have been known to carry beaded bags as a sign of luxury and power.

14th – 16th Century

The 14th century saw the introduction of drawstring bags that were used to carry money and valuables on one’s person. The bags were fitted with a string around the waist and were used by both men and women – the women’s were decorated with small ornaments.

The 15th century introduced purses that were common wedding gifts from grooms to their brides; the small pouch like bags were embroidered with love stories. Bags were also used to carry bird seed and game for hunts.

The 16th century saw the introduction of large skirts and petticoats; women hid pouches or bags in the many layers whilst men hid theirs inside their clothing.

17th – 19th Century

In the 17th century girls were encouraged to sew in order for them to be considered for marriage. This created a trend for small embroidered hand bags that were used to give gifts inside.

In the 18th century full skirts moved away from the fashion scene and welcomed the introduction of slim fitting clothing – this meant no room for pockets or hidden pouches and the hand bag became widely popular once again.

The 19th century saw the creation of the train and this increased the need for hand held luggage – where the term handbag was born. Interestingly, many modern handbags still use the same basic design.

20th – 21st Century

Handbags became a fashion statement after the end of World War II. They were made in more daring and bold styles and were carried under the arm for both practicality and style.

Now handbags have become a fashion accessory that men and women cannot live without. Whether you’re a country lover, a city worker or even a college student – bags are an essential part of everyday life.

Visit our online store to pick up a Chapman Bag today and embrace the true history and techniques of the traditional handbag.