Envelope Pocketbook, New England, 1780, Wool embroidery on linen with wool lining, and wool twill tape, 12.4 x 20.3 x 3.4 cm (4 7/8 x 8 x 1 5/16 in.), Gift of Miss Emma C. Shipman in memory of her grandfather, Rev. Isaiah Hatch Shipman, 47.1019.

This "envelope" bag lies on a padded corrugated board, covered with cotton knit. The cotton knit provides enough friction to hold the bag in place. To encourage proper handling, thumb depressions were made on the sides of the pallet. Because pallets abut each other in drawers, the corners were cut to allow enough space between pallets so that they can be easily lifted and moved.

Envelope Pocketbook, New England, 1780, Wool embroidery on linen with wool lining, and wool twill tape, 12.4 x 20.3 x 3.4 cm (4 7/8 x 8 x 1 5/16 in.), Gift of Miss Emma C. Shipman in memory of her grandfather, Rev. Isaiah Hatch Shipman, 47.1019.

A Volara foam cutout was added to hold a small tissue roll, inserted to keep the handbag ties from creasing and tangling.

A design sketch of mounts for "envelope" bags.

This brown and yellow bag has beaded tassels and a chain handle. In order to hold the bag in place and contain these movable parts, the mount is constructed as a padded, fabric-covered pallet with a shaped depression sewn into the padding. An industrial sewing machine allows sewing through the cardboard, batting and cotton knit to secure the outline of the depression.

A design sketch of mounts for bags that are beaded, fringed, or made with metal chains or clasps.

Bag, Eastern European, 1830–50, Glass beads embroidered on cotton, gilt metal clasp and chain, and silk lining, 11.3 x 7.8 x 1.2 cm (4 7/16 x 3 1/16 x 1/2 in.), The Elizabeth Day McCormick Collection, 43.1164.

The basic padded board evolved to include custom raised supports, constructed from muslin-covered Volara and individual e-flute board lifting trays. This became the most widely used mounting system for the handbag collection.

Bag, Eastern European, 1830–50, Glass beads embroidered on cotton, gilt metal clasp and chain, and silk lining, 11.3 x 7.8 x 1.2 cm (4 7/16 x 3 1/16 x 1/2 in.), The Elizabeth Day McCormick Collection, 43.1164.

Material selection for the mounts varies with the type of bag being mounted, but the basic support system remains the same: an individual padded lifting board within a custom tray (as shown here).

Pocket Book, American (Rhode Island), 1750–1800, Wool embroidery on linen with glazed wool lining, kid binding, and metal clasp, 10.8 x 17.4 x 3.5 cm (4 1/4 x 6 7/8 x 1 3/8 in.), Gift of Mrs. Samuel Cabot, 44.688.

The same support system can be applied to an "envelope" bag. The padded support is a corrugated acid-free board, covered in polyester batting and cotton stockinet with twill lifting ties. The custom tray is made from 2-ply mounting board.

Pocket Book, American (Rhode Island), 1750–1800, Wool embroidery on linen with glazed wool lining, kid binding, and metal clasp, 10.8 x 17.4 x 3.5 cm (4 1/4 x 6 7/8 x 1 3/8 in.), Gift of Mrs. Samuel Cabot, 44.688.

Since this bag has a heavy metal clasp, a small cotton stockinet and polyester batting pillow are stitched to the mount for support.

Drawstring bag, French, late 17th–early 18th century, Silk; Grosgrain, 11.5 x 9.5 cm (4 1/2 x 3 3/4 in.), The Elizabeth Day McCormick Collection, 43.1127.

This convex enamel sided bag with pink silk ribbons is supported in its own custom-fit box. It has a padded muslin lining with a depression underneath made to the shape of the enamel on the reverse. Strings and tassels rest in the box, while small Volara bumpers hold a heavy tassel in place at left. The bag is supported and slightly expanded inside with soft tissue paper.

from left: “Miser’s” purse, French, early 19th century, Silk net with gilt metal beads, rings and ornaments, 23.5 x 4.5 x 1.4 cm (9 1/4 x 1 3/4 x 9/16 in.), From the Collection of Mrs. Edward N. Herzog, 41.870; “Miser’s” purse, French, early 19th century, Silk net with cut steel beads, ornaments and rings, 22.5 x 4.5 x 1.8 cm (8 7/8 x 1 3/4 x 11/16 in.), From the Collection of Mrs. Edward N. Herzog, 41.883; “Miser’s” purse, French, early 19th century, Silk netting with gilt metal rings and ornaments, 22.3 x 5.3 x 1.9 cm (8 3/4 x 2 1/16 x 3/4 in.), From the Collection of Mrs. Edward N. Herzog, 41.866; “Miser’s” purse, French, early 19th century, Silk net with gilt metal beads, and gilt metal and glass bead rings and ornaments, From the Collection of Mrs. Edward N. Herzog, 41.861.

Beaded miser's purses are grouped in a small tray. The tray dividers, made from strips of Volara foam covered with Tyvek, stop the purses from rolling into one another when the tray is handled and contain beads or other parts that might become dislodged.

A design sketch for the creation of sectioned trays used for miser's purses.

Drawstring bag, French, 1690–1715, Glass beads strung on linen (sablé); silk netting and braided cords; sable, 9.2 x 13.5 cm (3 5/8 x 5 5/16 in.), The Elizabeth Day McCormick Collection, 43.2393.

This beaded “gaming” bag is stored upside down on a shaped and padded form, which gently holds the bag open with no pressure on any of the outer beaded surfaces. The tray protects its perimeter and catches any beads or loose parts that may be separated.

A design sketch for the construction of mounts used for beaded "gaming" bags.

Purse or bag, 19th century, Beadwork, 23.5 x 15 x 13 cm (9 1/4 x 5 7/8 x 5 1/8 in.), Gift of Philip Lehman in memory of his wife Carrie L. Lehman, 38.1369.

This knit bag with beaded embroidery and wire interior circles is gently expanded with a silk-covered insert pillow to relieve folds and creases. The bag lies on its side, and two additional silk-covered pads are placed beneath the bag to support it in this position. The custom fit low-profile box allows the bag to be moved and examined without being disturbed.

A design sketch for the knit bag pictured above.

Bag, Western or Central European, 1830–50, Glass beads on silk knit, silk lining, metal and enamel clasp, stones, and glass mirror, 20 x 8.4 x 8cm (7 7/8 x 3 5/16 x 3 1/8in.), The Elizabeth Day McCormick Collection, 43.1169.

The rigid metal lid and chain handle on this soft beaded bag need to be supported at the point where the beaded section meets the metal lid. Held in a slightly open position on a raised foam block, the bag is protected from collapsing on itself at that fragile connection. The block is wrapped in Tyvek, and the Volara foam stops secure the lid. The beaded section of the bag rests on a shaped pillow.

Handbag, Italian (Venice?), 1970s, Silk; velvet (uncut), 14.6 x 8.25 x 18.41 cm (5 3/4 x 3 1/4 x 7 1/4 in.), Gift in memory of Shirley Braude, 1999.488.

Sturdier bags that require upright storage are gently pressure fit into custom foam forms lined with Tyvek. The forms are adhered directly into the lifting tray.

Handbag, Italian (Venice?), 1970s, Silk; velvet (uncut), 14.6 x 8.25 x 18.41 cm (5 3/4 x 3 1/4 x 7 1/4 in.), Gift in memory of Shirley Braude, 1999.488.

To protect the velvet pile from compression, a flap made of e-flute board is attached to the tray. The flap supports the heavy handle but does not come in contact with the velvet, resting solely on the metal clasp.