Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Object of the Day, Museum Edition: A Needlework Pocketbook, 1781

Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III, was an expert in the art of needlework and passed many an hour with her embroidery. In fact, her love of needlework was so great that she was a financial patron of a school for “Embroidering Females.”

Needlework Pocketbook
Embroidered by Queen Charlotte, 1781
with implements of gold and mother-of-pearl
The Royal Collection
As gifts to her dearest friends, Queen Charlotte often created beautifully embroidered objects. Such is the case of this intricately embroidered pocketbook which Queen Charlotte sent to her friend, Mrs. Delaney, with a note which said that she should wear, “this little Pocket-Book in order to remember at times, when no dearer Persons are present, a very sincere well wisher, Friend, and affectionate Queen, Charlotte.”

The purse was lined in pink satin and contained an assortment of gold and mother-of-pearl implements which would have been useful to any lady of the day. The contents included scissors, a spoon, a pencil, a ruler, a knife, a compass, assorted ear spoons and scoops, and a bodkin. In this instance, the bodkin was not meant to be used as an implement of war, but rather as a device used to make holes in fabric or leather.

This attractive (and handy) gift remained in Mrs. Delaney’s family for many years until it was somehow acquired by Queen Mary who spirited it back to Windsor Castle.

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