A Little Handbag History
As far back as the Middle Ages, both men and women carried purses. Although these medieval bags infrequently held the rare commodity of money, they did serve to stash other small personal items such as important papers for men and sewing implements for ladies.
These early purses often reflected the social status of the carrier. More elaborately embroidered and embellished bags usually found a home with society's most affluent members.
Handbags dating prior to the 19th century rarely present themselves to collectors today. Some of the most popular bags with collectors these days are the beaded and metal mesh examples of the early 20th century.