17th Century: pastoral panel

English beadwork pastoral panel second half 17th century

Item auction page at Sotheby’s

Framed: 46cm. high, 68cm. wide; 1ft. 6in., 2ft. 2in., Textile visible: 31cm. high, 52cm. wide; 1ft., 1ft. 8in.

Worked in polychrome glass beads, with central standing figure of female holding a flower, flanked by initials E & L, set in a fantastical landscape with small animals and trees and large insects and flowers; mounted within later glazed frame
There are small clear beads worked over the cream textile ground, which is slightly discoloured. There are small marks to the far edges and some dark markings to the insect legs and antennae. Due to the material used the beads are in good condition and with good colour. This is framed with special reflective glass which does prevent a clear view of the panel.

There was a great demand for rich materials and elaborately ornamented pieces and also a fascination in the natural world.  Pattern books emerged which had a great influence on design. An Italian, Federico Vinciolo published a pattern book, which due to popularity had to be constantly reprinted. European printers were all influenced by each other. In England illustrations in herbals were initially the source for inspiration, which later in the 17thcentury were supplied as patterns by the print sellers and merchants marked satin panels with the designs which could be purchased, worked by the embroiderer in the techniques and colours she desired, and then could be brought back to the merchant to be made up into the caskets which could be individualised to the requirements of the client with regard to the contents of the casket.An extremely influential English book and print seller, was John Stent (born c.1615-1617) who had by 1662 accumulated the most extensive and diverse stock of engravings of any of his English competitors or predecessors, publishing at least 218 different plates of natural history subjects which were used by artists, teachers and embroiderers and were available at different prices, as broadsheets or as books including a three part work, A Book of Flowers Beasts, Birds and Fruits, in three parts, 20 leaves in each l’art. See Alexander Globe, Peter Stent London Bookseller Circa 1642-1665. Stent’s inventory included that of earlier engravers and printers, including Thomas Johnson’s work of 1530, and most importantly he was indebted to the four-part natural history work engraved by the German Jacob Hoefnagel, and designs by his father, printed in 1592, Stent also commissioned and used new designs by Wenceslaus Hollar, John Dunstall and John Payne and Johann Sibmacher all producers of pattern books. Many of the biblical embroideries derive from Continental designs and were based on Gerard de Jode’s compilation, Thesaurus Sacrarum Historiarium Veteris Testamenti, of 1585, which comprised of engravings by different artist and was used for wallpaintings, plasterwork, silver and textiles. Many of the English interpretations from the print designs of the distinctive needlework motifs are identiable and repeated in the distinctive style of the textile panels and in this example in beadwork interpretation.

Beck, Thomasina, Gardening with Silk and Gold, A History of Gardens in Embroidery, Published by David and Charles, 1997, Chp.2 &4, Stuart & Georgian Gardens, pp.40-63 & pp.80-99, comprehensive discussion of the inspiration of garden design.
Brooks, Mary M, English Embroideries of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, in the Collection of the Ashmolean Museum, London, 2004, discussion on collectors, makers, sources and stitches, and illustrations of the specific pieces in the collection.
Morrall, Andrew and Watt, Melinda, English Embroidery from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1580-1700, `Twixt Art and Nature’, Yale University Press, for comprehensive discussion and illustration of the subject and techniques of embroidery and needlework used.
Synge, Synge, Art of Embroidery, History of Style and Technique, The Royal School of Needlework,London, 2001, Chapter Five, The Seventeenth Century, pp.110-159

17th Century: garden beadwork picture 1670

Stuart beadwork and silk picture circa 1670

Item auction pages at Sotheby’s | auction 1 | auction 2 

depicting a standing male and female figure clothed in contemporary dress withing flowering foliage before a recumbant leopard and lion and a perched parrot and other bird.  Within a later frame

framed 13 1/4 in. by 16 1/2 in.; panel approximately 10 3/4 in. by 13 3/4 in.

33.7 cm; 41.9 cm; 27.3 cm; 34.9 cm

Item auction page at Sotheby’s | auction 1

This is a charming textile panel. The glass bead motifs are in relief, especially the corner animals. The glass beadwork is in very good condition overall. The faces and shoulders of both figures are opaque glass, the hands and arms, are possible replacements, as the surface is different, and there are silk threads visible around the base of the left arm of the lady (hand holding flowers), and there is possibly glue residue to beads above the left hand of the male (the hand peeping out from the cloak – without arm visible). There are some losses, for example to the bow trims to the cloak and shoes of the male figure, as visible in the photograph. Some of the tiny blue beads are present along the lower edge of the box frame (having fallen off). There are some tiny stitches to the silk satin ground, in area lower right of grass supporting female figure, and the area just left of lion’s head in lower right corner. There is some shadowing and minor wear and minor split, in area around the male figure, as visible in the photograph to the left of his arm and head, and right of his head above the cloak. There is velvet ribbon trim around the edges. It is mounted within a glazed boxed, ebonised frame, and the panel is mounted against another textile panel, visible at the right hand and left hand side especially. Being a box frame allows for the relief motifs to be protected. The charm of glass beads is that they keep their colour.
This vibrant and intricate beadwork picture, depicting a late 17th century couple amongst exotic fauna and flowering flora, belongs to a well-established group of pictures made from the 1660s through the early 1680s around the restoration of the monarch of Charles II. Many of these pictures depict Royal figures such as Charles II with his consort Catherine of Braganza, biblical figures such as King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba as well as Adam and Eve, and couples about to be married.  Beadwork, because of its fragile nature, is one of the rarer survivals of the decorative arts to have survived from the latter half of the 17th century. The coloured glass beads naturally retain their original strong hues, most of the surviving articles being in the form of pictures and baskets.  For a beadwork basket depicting Charles II and Catherine of Braganza with allegories of the Four Continents, see, A. Morrall and M. Watt, eds., English Embroidery from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1580-1700: ‘Twixt Art and Nature’, New Haven and London, 2008, pp. 134-5, fig. 13-13a; exhibition at The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, December 11, 2008-April 12, 2009.  For other beadwork/needlework pictures depicting a similar subject, Morrall and Watts, op. cit. nos. 27, 55 and 56. pp. 163, 216, 217, 219. For a number of related beadwork pictures, see also Xanthe Brooke, The Lady Lever Art Gallery Catalogue of Embroideries, Phoenix Mill, Gloucestershire, 1992, nos. LL5272, LL5276, LL5257, LL5264, LL5341, LL5342, LL5343. 

Item auction page at Sotheby’s | auction 2

Very good condition; the beads retain vibrant colors and there does not appear to be losses to the beads; the female figure with a hairline crack running through her face; the hands to the female figure with painted restoration; the male figure with a very minor and slight hairline crack to his face; the male figure’s hands with losses to three fingers of his proper left hand and with losses to fingers of proper right hand; the silk background appears to have yellowed and darkened but is in good condition; the velvet border to the silk background with some minor losses at the corners. Not examined out of frame.

This wonderfully vibrant and intricate picture worked in raised beadwork depicting a late 17th century couple amongst exotic fauna and flowering flora belongs to a well-established group of pictures made from the 1660s through the early 1680s centering the restoration of the monarch of Charles II.  Many of these pictures depict Royal figures such as Charles II with his consort Catherine of Braganza, biblical figures such as King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba as well as Adam and Eve, and couples about to be married.  The present picture may fall in to the later category commemorating a marriage.  The setting is reminiscent of the Garden of Eden, with overtones of fruitfulness and prosperity.  Beadwork, because of its fragile nature, is one of the rarer survivals of the decorative arts to have survived from the latter half of the 17th century. The colored glass beads naturally retain their original strong hues, most of the surviving articles being in the form of pictures and baskets.  A beadwork basket depicting Charles II and Catherine of Braganza with allegories of the Four Continents, is illustrated, A. Morrall and M. Watt, eds., English Embroidery from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1580-1700: ‘Twixt Art and Nature’, New Haven and London, 2008, pp. 134-5, fig. 13-13a; exhibition held at The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, December 11, 2008-April 12, 2009.  A number of other similar beadwork/needlework pictures depicting a similar subject are also illustrated (Morrall and Watts, op. cit. nos. 27, 55 and 56. pp. 163, 216, 217, 219). For a number of related beadwork pictures, see also Xanthe Brooke, The Lady Lever Art Gallery Catalogue of Embroideries, Phoenix Mill, Gloucestershire, 1992, nos. LL5272, LL5276, LL5257, LL5264, LL5341, LL5342, LL5343.  A beadwork basket depicting Adam and Eve sold in these rooms, April 9, 2009, lot 34 ($40,625).

17th Century: beaded stumpwork panel

Beaded stumpwork panel, third quarter 17th Century

Item auction page at Sotheby’s

Height with frame 14 1/2 in. by 16 1/4 in.; 36.8 by 41.3 cm.

the whole composition is comprised of a variety of raised stumpwork elements rendered in multicoloured beads on a silk ground, depicting a gentleman and lady with flowers and insects, and a country house
In good condition with very minor tears and wear to silk background and scattered split threads and losses to beads. Frame with rubbing to gilt and ebonized surface.

17th Century: beadwork picture

Charles II era, mid 17th Century

Link to item auction page at Sothrey’s

Height with frame 17 1/2 in. by Width 22 in.; 27.9 by 38.1 cm.

of multicolored beads within a wire grid framework; depicting a lady and gentleman below a crown flanked by a lion and unicorn; in a parcel gilt and ebonized moulded frame

In good condition overall, with a few split threads and scattered losses of beads. The white bead square backgrounds detached from the grid frame in a few places. Not examined out of frame, which has rubbing and scattered minor nicks to the ebonized and gilt surfaces.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above.
Related panels with a similar distinctive grid pattern appear as the base in several surviving 17th-century beadwork baskets, including examples in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; the Treasurer’s House, York (National Trust); and the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.  Beadwork baskets are traditionally thought to have been a domestic art fashioned by gentlewomen from wealthy households, using expensive glass beads imported from Amsterdam and Venice. It has also been suggested that individual components were professionally manufactured and sold as kits.

17th Century: beadwork floral picture 1653

An English Beadwork  picture dated 1653

Item auction page at Sotheby’s

Height with frame 19 in. by Width 23 in.; 48.3 by 58.4 cm.

multicolored beads, depicting a lady and gentleman flanking a bouquet of flowers; the back panel with an ink inscription
In reasonably good condition overall, with scattered splits to threads and losses to beads consistent with age, primarily in the central top and upper left borders and the woman’s right hand. Underlying canvas backing with slight undulations in places. Wear to gilt and ebonized frame consistent with age.

17th Century: beadwork on silk picture

Charles II beadwork and silk picture, 17th century

Link to item auction page at Sotheby’s 

With frame 14 1/2 in. by 18 1/2 in.

Depicting Venus, Adonis, and Cupid, worked in colored glass beads and stumpwork on a satin ground, within a later giltwood frame
Some minor tears and losses to satin foundation with the most extensive being to the uppermost edge. Silk needlework to stumpwork oxidized to expose fabric beneath. Beadwork generally intact with some minor, occasional losses, mostly to house at upper right. Giltwood frame with rubbing to gilding and minor chips and losses. Some old wood worm damage to reverse of frame. Please note that this needlework has not been examined out of frame.

17th Century: beadwork picture 1657

Charles II Beadwork Picture, dated 1657

Link to item auction page at Sotheby’s

Depicting a tree flanked by a deer and dog with male and female figure at either side, with initials and date 1657. In later walnut frame.

Height 8 in. by Width 13 3/4 in.


17th Century: beadwork bag 1690


Height without straps 4 in.

Fine polychrome beads threaded on net ground, four individual panels, each with white ground and floral spray alternating between rose and carnation, joined together with needle looping, lined in blue silk satin; now mounted on a wooden post and base with a Perspex case.
In reasonably good condition, with scattered losses and replacements to beadwork, and end of one gold thread gauze handle is detached, visible in catalogue photo. Later blue silk lining. Losses and flaking to black paint on modern base

17th Ventury: footed beaded box


Link to item page at Sothebys

Height 8 1/2 in. by Width 12 in. by Depth 8 1/4 in.

Interior lined with handcolored paper depicting animals, flowers, and religious scenes.
Beadwork with losses, most notably to the majority of the faces and some of the flowers to the top. Trim missing 5″ from left side of top. Some areas of restoration to the beadwork. Velvet lining the interior of the top with scratches and marks. Interior paper lining with some small tears. This casket underwent conservation in 2007.


17th Century: beadwork box 1670


Link to Auction pages at Sotheby’s: auction 1 | auction 2

Height 5 in. by Width 8 in. by Depth 5 1/4 in.

of rectangular form; multicolored beads on a white ground depicting a courtly couple on the lid; the front with a leopard and leaping hare, the sides and back with flowers and insects; the borders with metallic thread braiding; the interior and bottom lined with marbled paper, on wooden bun feet.
In good conserved condition with scattered losses and replacements to beads. Losses and restoration to faces. Lid is with slight warping due to age, but still closes easily. Feet, metallic thread braiding and marbled paper lining later.

17th Century: beadwork box 1680


Links to item pages at Sotheby’s: auction 1 | auction 2

Height 7 in. by Width 12 1/4 in. by Depth 9 1/4 in.

Depicting allegories of the Cardinal and Theological virtues; the top with Charity flanked by two children; the front with Temperance holding vessels and Prudence holding a serpent; the sides with Fortitude holding columns and blindfolded Justice with a balance and sword; the back panel showing Hope with an anchor and Faith reading a Bible; all surrounded by richly varied flora and fauna; the interior with compartments, drawers and secret drawers, red-painted and decorated with punched gold borders and hand-coloured engravings of hunting scenes; on a support covered in green felt and red velevet (worn)
In good conserved condition, with scattered losses and replacements to beads and losses and re-working to faces and hands. Linen and silk ground with discolouration and wear consistent with age. Losses, wear and oxidation to gold thread ribbon borders. Interior with scattered discolouration and losses to lining, and mirror panels with foxing and losses to silvering.

17th Century: beaded casket 1680

Charles II Beadwork Casket, Probably Netherlands, circa 1680

Link to Sotheby’s auction page

Rectangular form with domed lid; the black ground with multicoloured glass beads decorated with floral sprays on all sides; the interior lined in red silk

Height 4 3/4 in. by Width 11 in. by Depth 7 1/2 in.

A virtually identical casket, almost certainly from the same workshop, was in the Simon Sainsbury collection, sold Christie’s London, Simon Sainsbury: the Creation of an English Arcadia, June 18, 2008, lot 189.




17th Century: beaded prayer bookcover


Item auction page at Christie’s

The front and back covers with maidens representing Hope and Faith surrounded by flora and fauna, the spine with a hound and a hare, within a later shadowbox frame

714 in. (18.4 cm.) high; 10 in. (25.4 cm.) wide

17th Century: basket 1660

CIRCA 1660

Item auction page at Christie’s

Depicting a pair of figures with spot motifs of plants animals and insects, the borders with further figures and flowering plants, some damage to the sides
13 in. (33 cm.) wide

Previously sold Christie’s South Kensington, Costume and textiles, 14 December 2006, lot 3260.
A similar basket dated 1659, is in the Victoria Albert Museum, No. T.69-1936

17th Century: basket 1659

Charles II era basket, 1659

Link to Sotheby’s listing

Beadwork baskets were special creations, as they were not for any practical purpose, and are often decorated with celebratory imagery. They were often created to mimic the forms of silver christening baskets. This example could be commemorating a wedding, as fruit and foliage are often suggestive of fecundity. Beads began to be imported from Venice and Amsterdam around 1630, and they were instantly popular since they were interpreted as symbols of the exotic.

A basket with a similar composition and also worked in beads and depicting Charles II and Catherine of Braganza in the center is in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (39.13.1).

Overall in excellent condition. Decoration to faces is now lacking due to loss of silk thread. Some beads are lacking, minor restorations. Silk lining restored and the beadwork base replaced.

Height 8 1/4 in. by Width 13 1/2 in. by Length 22 in.

Signed MARY BLOMFIELD/ ANNO 1659, reverse with a label printed International Art Treasures Exhibition Assembly Rooms Bath 1973 Exhibit No. 158.

Provenance: Christie’s, South Kensington, July 14, 1992, sale 4716, lot 162.

Exhibited : International Art Treasures Exhibition, Bath, 1973

17th Ventury: basket 1660

Charles II era basket, 1660

Link to Sotheby’s listing

Mounted on wooden boards, the slanted sides worked in brightly coloured beads depicting a genteel couple with silk faces and hands flanking a manor house with mica windows; the sides with female allegories of the senses with silk faces and hands, flanked by a camel, leopard, stag and unicorn and flowers and insects; the external sides covered in green silk brocade with silver-thread ribbon borders

Height 4 in. by WIdth 19 in. by depth 14 1/2 in.

In good conserved condition with scattered losses to beads primarily around top edges. Canvas backing to bottom panel with minor buckling, and wear and discolouration to raised work commensurate with age, with some re-working to faces. Later green silk and metallic thread borders with minor wear and discolouration consistent with age and use. Colour in catalogue photos is generally accurate; overall colour perhaps slightly more grey under certain light.


Sir Frederick Henry Richmond, Bt (1873-1953)
Christie’s South Kensington, An Important Collection of Needlework, June 23, 1987, lot 118
Garry Atkins, London


Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Milwaukee Art Museum, Strung, Woven, Knitted and Sewn: Beadwork from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, November 21, 1997- January 18, 1998

17th Century : basket 1660

Charles II era basket, 1660

Link to Sothebys listing

Mounted on wood, depicting a King and Queen worked on satin ground flanked by a tent and houses; the sides with flowers, fruits, trees, a deer, leopard, kingfisher and parrot and covered on the outside with green silk; raised on a base decorated with insects and flowers

Wear, losses, discolouration and oxidation to satin ground commensurate with age, and scattered losses to beadwork. Later green silk in good condition. Colour in catalogue photos is accurate.

Height 3 3/4 in. by Width 16 in. by Depth 12 in.


Mary Bellis, Hungerford
Christie’s London, The Mary Bellis Collection, May 21, 1987, lot 76
Leslie Maas

17th Century: basket 1670

CHARLES II era basket, 1680

Link to Sotheby’s listing

Multi-coloured beads worked on a cream silk ground with openwork sides; the base with a raised-work courting couple flanked by a leopard, lion, castle, pear and orange trees; the sides and handles in blue and white with flowers in each corner; with a protective Perspex case; losses and restoration to openwork

Height 5 1/2 in. by Width 21 in. by Depth 18 in.

Scattered losses and minor oxidation to beads throughout, with some splits to wires in pierced trellis sides, and one section restored entirely with white beads; visible in catalogue photographs. Raised work panel with losses and disclouration to silk ground and scattered losses and lifting to beadwork elements, consistent with age. Metal frame slightly mis-shapen in places, commensurate with age and handling.

Provenance: Leslie Maas


Milwaukee Art Museum, Strung, Woven, Knitted and Sewn: Beadwork from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, November 21, 1997- January 18, 1998

17th Century: basket 1662

Charles II era basket, 1662

Link to Sotheby’s Listing

Scattered losses to beads, visible in catalogue photographs. Metal handles and frame slightly mis-shapen in places with consequent light undulating to beaded panels, consistent with age and handling. Beaded ribbon borders surrounding bottom of basket slightly lifting in places with small losses.

Height 7 in. by Length 18 1/2 in. by Depth 13 1/2 in.

Initialed MB and dated 1662 on a white beaded ground, the base depicting a man and woman flanking the Royal Oak with the face of Charles II surrounded by deer, a leopard, dogs and a fox; the openwork sides and handles worked in multicolor stripes; some losses

Provenance: Alistair Sampson Antiques, Ltd., London


Milwaukee Art Museum, Strung, Woven, Knitted and Sewn: Beadwork from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, November 21, 1997- January 18, 1998

17th Century: bag 1623

Beaded bag, 1623

Link to Sotheby’s listing


In good condition, with old restorations and later stitching along two vertical seams running from the bottom to the top border in between the I and E of ‘FRIEND’ and between ‘GIFT’ and ‘OF’. Wear and old restorations to the green ribbon border along the top

Height 4 in.


Mayorcas Ltd, London, January 1976;, Vogel Collection no. 233



17th Century: waxblossed reliquary figures

Wax Reliquary figures of St. Tiburtius & St. Valerianus
Munich, Germany, Early 17th century

Artist: Hans Krumper, 1570(?) – 1634

Material: Wax figure, glass eyes, real hair, silk, gold lamé, tulle, gold embroidery, pearls, oak wood, ebony pads, gold enamel, copper, gold-plated or painted, steel, gold-plated brass

St. Tibertius

INV. NO. Treasury, GS D 71 : www.khm.at/de/object/99040/

DIMENSIONS H. 36 cm, W. 22.5 cm
IMAGE RIGHTS Vienna Art History Museum, Spiritual Treasury


St. Valerianus

INV. NO.Treasury, GS D 70:www.khm.at/de/object/99039/

DIMENSIONS H. 36 cm, W. 22.5 cm, D. 19.5 cm
IMAGE RIGHTS Vienna Art History Museum, Spiritual Treasury

17th Century: dressing mirror, 1670

A Charles II beadwork and faux tortoiseshell dressing mirror, circa 1670

Sold at auction by Sotheby’s

Description: beadwork, wood, faux tortoiseshell

Dimension: height 26 1/2 in.; width 20 in. (67.3 cm; 50.8 cm)

Condition: Overall good condition; the faces of the figures replaced with later infilling; the center of the large flower to the right hand side above the fox also infilled; left corner beneath the upper left figure with losses; colors are vibrant and the beadwork is stable and beautifully executed; mirror plate appears to be replaced and with some crystallization and pitting; some minor knicsks and wear to ebonized edge.

17th Century: Gloves 1620s

Pair of gloves


The rich brown leather of these gloves is unusual; most surviving gloves from the seventeenth century are lighter in color. However, the motifs embroidered on the gauntlets—pea pods and blossoms—were quite common during the period. Pea pods were often associated with romantic love. They are found on both household furnishings and other accessories of dress, such as a woman’s jacket of about the same date in the Museum’s collection (23.170.1).

Medium: Leather, satin worked with silk and metal thread, spangles; long-and-short, satin, detached buttonhole, couching stitches; metal bobbin lace; silk and metal ribbon

Dimensions: L. 13 1/2 x W. 6 1/2 inches (34.3 x 16.5 cm)

17th Century: mirror

Mirror depicting scenes from the Book of Esther, 1650 or later

Mirror plate with losses to silvering and foxing. Beadwork with some losses, most extensively to the bottom left corner where the flower is lacking. Metal border with losses, bending and replacements. The faces of the figures are all lacking. Some restorations to beadwork. This mirror underwent professional conservation in 2014. Some earlier restorations were taken away and new beads were added to those areas.

Beadwork, like needlework, was produced by both young girls and professionals. Schools that taught needlework also taught this unique craft, as noted in an advertisement of 1681 by Hannah Woolley that stated “I can work well all manners of work.. all kinds of Beugle [bead]-work, upon wyers or otherwise..”. Beads had been imported from Venice and Amsterdam as early as the 1630s. Beads, unlike silk threads, retain their colors so that beadwork mirrors reveal the original colorful quality of seventeenth century embroidery.

Dimensions: Height: 26 3/4 in. by Width 22 in.


1: Freeman’s Auction, Philadelphia, November 13, 2013, sale 1476, lot 138.

2: Sotheby’s, January 20 2016,  lot 471.

A mirror of similar form was sold Sotheby’s New York, June 9, 2014, lot 167.

17th Century: Basket, 1650-1700

Beaded basket, English, 1650-1700

V&A Accession number T.41-1946 | link to item page @ V&A

Basket beaded in green, yellow, blue, red, white, and orange within a glass case. The beadwork depicts Susannah and the Elders with a lion, leopard, and kingfisher on the bottom of the basket, framed by the sides of the basket which are composed of leaves, flowers, and fruit trees.

Dimensions of case: : 240mm W: 655mm D: 550mm

17th Century: Fork, 1650-1800

Fork, 1650 to 1800

V&A Accession number M.71-1950 | link to item page @ V&A

Tw o pronged steel fork with a tapering cylindrical handle covered with coloured beadwork. Length, 8 inches.
Cutler’s mark: a falchion (a broad curved, convex edged sword.)

17th Century: purse 1634

1634, English

V&A Accession number T.55-1927 | link to item at V&A

The most luxurious embroidered purses, made in leather, velvet and silk, were used by both men and women. Women’s purses were similar to those carried by men, but smaller, taking the form of tasselled bags that closed with tasselled drawstrings. These were often embroidered, while beadwork on leather was also popular. The decoration on this purse depicts a sprig of green and yellow acorns between a pair of birds with lozenges and flowers. It is inscribed ‘I PRAY GOD TO B(sic) MY GUIDE 1634’.

A number of early 17th-century beaded bags bear mottos or expressions relating to charity, friendship or luck. These two examples carry the messages, ‘I pray God to B my guide 1634’ [T.55-1927] and ‘Hit or miss there it is 1628’ [T.250-1960]. They would have been used to carry either sweet-smelling herbs or small gifts. V&A, Room 40, Bags: Inside Out. (12/2020)

Bibliography: John Lea Nevinson, Catalogue of English Domestic Embroidery of the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries, Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Textiles, London: HMSO, 1938, p.100, plate LXXII

17th Century: waistcoat

1600-1620 English waistcoat

Woman’s waistcoat, 1600-20, British; linen embroidered with coloured silks, metal threads, spangles, glass beads

V&A Accession Number:T.106:1 to 4-2003Item page at V&A

Description: Four pieces forming a woman’s waistcoat made of bleached linen and embroidered with coloured silks, silver and silver-gilt filé and spangles. The pattern of the embroidery comprises a lattice of geometric strapwork in plaited braid stitch with threads. Worked inside the strapwork compartments are flowers, fruits and leaves in coloured silks in detached buttonhole stitch. The grapes are similarly worked, but raised for a three-dimensional effect.

History: The waistcoat was probably altered in the 1620s to wear as masque costume. The fronts were removed, shortened and new gores added, then sewn to new silk backs (not meant to be seen when worn). The waistcoat probably had a scattering of silver-gilt spangles. Many more, each topped with a glass bead, were added, filling the linen ground and almost obscuring the pattern of the embroidery.

The waistcoat has been associated with Sutton Court in Somerset for several centuries, according to information provided to the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

The alterations and addition of more spangles and beads may have been done to adapt the waistcoat for use as a masque costume. Sir Francis Bacon’s essay, On Masques and Triumphs of 1594, makes a number of recommendations about costumes for the masque, including “oes or spangs, as they are of no great cost, so they are of most glory. As for rich embroidery, it is lost and not discerned.”

Historical significance: Lavishly embroidered waistcoats were fashionable during the first two decades of the 17th century and are often seen in portraiture, usually worn with a petticoat and loose gown as formal day wear. The embroidery on this example represents a unique variation on other multi-coloured needlework designs of the period. The foundation pattern in plaited braid stitch with silver-gilt thread is in a strapwork design, a geometrical outline rather than the curving stems usually seen. The three-dimensional rendering of the grapes is a particularly rich treatment of the form. This particular waistcoat once had its linen ground completely covered with spangles, each topped with a tiny bead, an addition probably made for masque costume.

Summary: These pieces once formed part of a woman’s waistcoat and are beautiful examples of the splendour of British embroidery between 1600 and 1620. The foundation pattern in plaited braid stitch with silver-gilt thread is strapwork, a design also used in other decorative arts of this period. The leaves and flowers are filled in with a detached buttonhole stitch in a variety of coloured silks. The grapes have been worked over thick padding to give them an almost three-dimensional shape.

The waistcoat was altered to wear as part of a costume for a masque (masked ball), with the additional spangles and beads added to make the waistcoat gleam in the candlelight. The British philosopher and writer Francis Bacon (1561-1626) wrote an essay, ‘Of Masques and Triumphs’, in 1594, advising on the colours and decorations most effective for masque costume. He recommended spangles, ‘as they are of no great cost, so they are of most glory. As for rich embroidery, it is lost, and not discerned.’

17th Century: Purple velvet purse

Purse of purple velvet, comprising four sides bearing alternately the crowned monogram ‘DG’ or ‘ML’ or two intertwined hands under a burning heart, embroidered with multicolored silk, gold thread, pearls, sequins and rubies, anonymous, c. 1600 – c. 1625
Rijksmuseum – more info

(Google translated) Purple velvet Pouch, consisting of four chips on which alternately the crowned monogram ‘DG’ or ‘ML’ or two entwined hands under a burning heart, embroidered with multicolored silk, gold thread, pearls, lovers and rubies. Model: Each patte ends in tip and has five holes through which a cord of braided silk – ending in spheres and acorns – is pulled through. Lined with red silk; now fades to pink. Decoration: in the middle of each fries a shield at the top ending in a tip and crowned with a floral ornament of (originally gilded?) Silver canetille, freshwater pearls and a ruby in the middle. At the bottom, the shield flares into a point and the same lines form two curls in which a violet is made up of (gilt?) Silver canetille, freshwater pearls and a ruby in the middle. A monogram of freshwater pearls and gold thread is embroidered under a three-point crown. The seams between the different pattes are covered with a trimming of braided gold wire. The purse ends at the bottom center in a stepped ornament of braided gold wire (probably around a wooden core) ending in four braids with a ball. The drawstring ends in acorns and balls of braided gold wire

17th Century: Beaded bellows

A pair of silver mounted bellows with working mechanism, decorated on both sides with small glass beads; on other side in a floral pattern and on the other with a central cartouche with a scene of a lack and gentleman in a landscape.

English, cira 1690)
Length: 22 in / 36 cm
Width: 10in/233 cm

From: The Needle’s Excellency and Other Textiles (Publisher: Mallett, London, 1997)

17th Century: beaded silk purse

Beads and pearls embroidered on silk, on both sides, 6×6 inches. English.

From: The Needle’s Excellency and Other Textiles (Publisher: Mallett, London, 1997)

17th Century: Beadwoven Panel (1657)

Panel Made in 1657

In the collections at the V&A, London, not on display.

England (made)

Coloured and transparent glass beads threaded together on silk


glass beads threaded onto silk ground
Glass Beads
beaded, 1657, English; Coloured beads, floral decoration with inscription
Coloured and transparent glass beads threaded together on silk
  • Height: 16.5cm
  • Width: 31cm
  • Unmounted depth: 0.5cm
Naturs flowers soon doe fade ful long we last cause art us made ARW 1657

17th Century: Drawstring Bag, 1610-1650

Drawstring bag

English, 1610–50

Item info from: https://collections.mfa.org/objects/119711

DESCRIPTION: Red silk satin embroidered with gold metallic threads, seed pearls, metal purl, spangles, and bits of colored glass. Baroque design. Embroidery stitches include laid and couching, beading, bullion knots, braid stitch. Green and metallic braided cords and strap at top; two wood-core drawstring pull tassels covered in seed pearls, with silk, metallic thread and spangles. Green silk lining.
PROVENANCE: Ex-Seligman Coll. (London); Elizabeth Day McCormick collection; Gift to the MFA, October 14, 1943
DIMENSIONS: Overall (without tassels and cord): 6 x 6 cm (2 3/8 x 2 3/8 in.)
CREDIT LINE: The Elizabeth Day McCormick Collection

17th Century: Portrait of a young woman from a Gdańsk patrician family, around 1625-35

Portrait of a young woman from a Gdańsk patrician family, around 1625-35.
Artist unknown.
From the collection of Museu Sa Bassa Blanc.

17th Century: Spangled ruff in Portraits of Doña Ana de Velasco y Girón

She must have loved this amazing ruff with dangling silver pointed spangles, this looks like the same one and same person over a few decades! Must have ben her signature item.


17th Century: Portrait of Krystyna Lubomirska, after 1603

(Polish) National Musuem in Warsaw




17th Century: Portrait of a lady with an elaborate jewelled headdress

Spanish School, 17th Century
Portrait of a lady with an elaborate jewelled headdress
oil on canvas
28 x 22 in. (71.1 x 55.9 cm.)

17th Century: Hungarian wedding dress

Mid-17th Century
(Hungarian National Museum)
Budapest, Hungary

Earlier researches attributed the costume to Pál Esterházy’s (1635–1713) first wife Orsolya Esterházy (1641–1682) and later to his second wife Éva Thököly (1659–1716). The original owner can no longer be traced but the cut and the embroidery ascertain that either could have worn it at her wedding. Contrary to Western European customs, in Hungary later generations gladly donned the ornate costumes of their forebears on some festive occasion. The suite was restored by Mrs Sándor Borsi between 1969 and 1971.

The skirt and the attached bodice constitute an outstanding ensemble of old Hungarian costume, a harmonious alloy of the exotic oriental traditions of earlier centuries and elements of the fast-changing Western European fashions.

(Note from Jen: I’m going to guess the red beads are Coral, I have many such examples of coral beads from Germany in earlier centuries. I’m trying to find more on this.)

17th Century: purple velvet pouch

Purse of purple velvet, consisting of four pattes on which alternately the crowned monogram ‘DG’ or ‘ML’ or two entwined hands under a burning heart, embroidered with multicolored silk, gold thread, pearls, spangles and rubies, anonymous, c. 1600 – c. 1625

17th Century: Game Bag

Embroidered game bag: silk, silver, and gold on velvet (Dresden 1609)

17th Century: 1625-1650 Beaded bag

Small flat bag of coloured beads netted on a foundation of thick linen thread, and patterned with bird and flowers and inscribed ‘IN HOP ME HART DOTH REST’. With brown, green, white, yellow and blue beads. Lined with chamois leather. Above the beadwork is a band of material of green silk covered with a pale pink silk.

Link to item @ V&A

There is also a pink satin lining and pink ribbon handles. The pink silk and satin are probably later additions.

‘IN HOP ME HART DOTH REST’ (Inscribed in beadwork above the birds and flowers)

  • Width: 13cm
  • Length: 11.5cm
  • Width: 5.125in
  • Length: 4.5in


17th Century: 1662 Mirror

Looking glass or mirror, seven inches wide, in a wide frame with beadwork decoration arranged in two full-height verticals and two short horizontal panels

top and bottom. Yellow cord runs between the vertical and horizontal panels.


In each corner a medallion containing a figure of a woman, one of them being Diana with a bow and dog, the others represented with a horse, an alligator, and a cock. In the upper rectangle are three seated women (possibly the three Fates spinning) with a naked recumbent man below. To the left is Venus with Cupid and a peacock and, above, her chariot drawn by a pair of doves. To the right is a clothed woman, possibly Charity, with three naked children. Below is a composition of flowers, birds and beasts. Along the upper edge the inscription: ‘IM6 6W2’. The sight and back edges of the frame are lined with tooled brown leather, worked in a geometric pattern.

2018 – in a modern glazed case

  • Height: 71.1cm
  • Width: 66cm (Note: Thickness of frame estimated at 4cm.)

H 2′ 4″ W 2′ 2″ 2018 In a modern glazed case 75 x 70 x 6.5cm
Link to V&A page

17th Century: 1659 Basket

Examples of beadwork that can be associated with makers whose names and dates are known suggest that they were usually made by teenage girls from affluent families. Their function is uncertain. They may have been used as layette baskets, which held baby clothes, because they are similar in form to silver examples. But it has also been suggested that they were made to celebrate betrothals or used at wedding ceremonies to hold gloves, sprigs of rosemary or other favours given to guests. Most examples depict a couple as the central motif. All of the design elements may be found in silk embroidery on domestic furnishings of the period.
Link to item @ V&A

Materials & Making
The basket is made from glass beads strung on linen thread and fine wire, supported on a wire frame lined with silk. Beadwork keeps true, clear colours, an advantage over coloured silks and wools, the usual materials for embroidery. A beaded cushion in the V&A dated 1657 bears the inscription ‘natvrs flowers soon doe fade ful long we last cavse art vs made’.

Ownership & Use
Another beaded basket of identical design exists, with only the name and date different. This suggests that it may have been worked from a type of kit, or possibly made to commission as a gift, with the recipient’s name added.

1659, English; Signed Sarah Gurnall
set with the maker or recipient’s name : sarah gvrnall avgvst 24 anno 1659

  • Height: 11cm
  • Width: 46.5cm
  • Depth: 36cm

17th Century: 1628 Beaded Bag

A number of beaded bags from the early 17th century survive. Their stylized floral patterns and less expensive materials imitate the elaborate embroidered versions carried by the aristocracy. Many bear mottos or expressions relating to charity, friendship or luck, which suggests that they may have been used for gifts of money.
Link to page @ V&A

Materials & Making
The development of the ‘drawn-glass’ technique about 1490 allowed the manufacture of large numbers of small, round, coloured beads with a central hole, of the type used in this purse. The glassworks on the island of Murano near Venice were the most famous during the Renaissance, but by the early 17th century the technology had spread to glass-making centres in Amsterdam and Bavaria. Beads were produced mainly for trade with North America and Africa, but they were also sold in Europe for use in embroidery.

Subjects Depicted
The expression ‘hit or miss’ is first recorded in the English language in William Shakespeare’s play Troilus and Cressida published in 1606, where it has the same meaning of random luck that it has today. The expression may have derived from a country dance also known as ‘hit and miss’, recorded as early as 1626.

Purse of brown glass beads on a ground of netted silk. With a diamond diaper pattern in blue and white beads with clusters of green and blue beads at the intersections. In each diamond a letter ‘S’ in dark blue beads is surrounded by white and yellow beads. Lined with leather and buff silk. Two tassels of buff silk ribbon at the bottom.

  • Height: 8.9cm
  • Width: 12.7cm
  • Depth: 1cm

17th Century: Beaded Casket


English ca. 1650-1660 (made)

Wooden casket decorated with panels of glass beads sewn onto a canvas ground. On the lid is a figure of Justice depicted with her attributes of sword and scales. On the sides are cupid and a seated lady, on the back a mermaid and swan. The casket has metal handles at the sides and a key in the centre front. There is a shallow drawer at the bottom of the front side. No other internal fittings remain.
  • Width: 270mm
  • Height: 155mm
  • Depth: 290mm

Link to Object @ the V&A

16th: Drawstring Bag

Pictures & info from: https://www.mfa.org/collections/object/drawstring-bag-119706

Drawstring bag
late 16th–early 17th century

Overall (without tassels and cord): 13.3 x 13 cm (5 1/4 x 5 1/8 in.

Silk satin emroidered with silk, gold metallic threads, metal purl, and seed pearls Braided silk and metallic cords and tassels

Small square drawstring bag. White silk satin embroidered with polychrome silk, gold metallic threads, metal purl, and seed pearls. Design of flower flanked by birds and cornicopias; floral motifs fill out ground. Stitches include laid and couching, scroll couching, satin stitch, raised work, and knots.

Salmon/white/metallic cords with two silk and metallic covered-wood tassels; three similar tassels at base. Pink silk lining. White satin is fraying at top and bottom to reveal vertical pink and green wefts.

17th Century: Flinderhaube

This is from a SCA researcher, who did a rather spectacular bit of research into those amazing gold German cauls you see often. Sometimes they look like beads, but sometimes they don’t, and here is a bit of info on what they are!

I will just send you there since it’s not entirely beads, even though a decorative thing with a hole technically qualifies, but it is late to post period so – off you go!

Flinderhaube – project documentation

17th Century: Beadwork basket, c. 1675

Said to have been made by Elizabeth Clarke (1655-99) when she was about twenty years old. These baskets may have been made to celebrate betrothals and used to hold gloves or sprigs of rosemary given to wedding guests.

Liz Athur’s “Embroidery 1600-1700 at the Burrell Collection.”
London: John Murray, 1995. ISBN: 0-7195-5413-6

Thanks to: Lady Karen Larsdatter

17th Century: Ironing Crown

Ironing crown (belongs to the head reliquary of St. Walburga)

Location: Scheer, Catholic parish church of St. Nicholas & former collegiate church

Genus:Applied Arts

Material / Technique:enamel, pearl, gemstone

Link to this page:https://www.bildindex.de/document/obj20745011

Record of:Bildarchiv Foto Marburg

17th Century: Cockatrice Jewelry box

This jewellery case is decorated with beadwork, a popular embroidery technique in the 17th century, in which tiny glass beads were threaded in sequence and sewn into place. The padded central panel lifts open to show a compartment for jewellery, lined with pink taffeta. The quality of glass beads and other material, and the involvement of a cabinet-maker in making the beadwork up into such a box, would mean that it could only be made within a household which could afford such outlay. Being such an intricate and relatively precious thing, the case’s owners (Martha and her successors) would have handled it very gently; thus it remains in good condition today.

Martha Edlin (1660-1725) worked a series of embroideries during her childhood, including this jewellery case, which were cherished by her descendants and passed down through the female line in her family for over 300 years. We know little about her life, except that she married a man called Richard Richmond and appears to have been a prosperous widow living in Pinner in Greater London at the time she drew up her will, with daughters and grandchildren.

Materials & Making
Following the usual development of needlework skills in a young educated girl in the mid-17th century, Martha Edlin embroidered a sampler in coloured silks at the age of eight, and a more complicated piece in whitework and cutwork at nine. By 1671, her eleventh year, she had embroidered the panels of an elaborate casket, and two years later this beadwork jewellery case. The needlework skills she demonstrated in these pieces would be important attributes in her adulthood, in the management of her household and the making, mending and decoration of her own and her family’s clothes.

Wooden jewellery case covered with embroidered silk with coloured silks, metal purl and glass beads. Takes the form of a recessed compartment with a padded hinged lid with a tiny lifting ring, and a wide flat surrounding frame, and it stands on four feet. The inside of the case is lined with pink silk and fitted out with slots for jewellery along one side. The outside top surface is covered with white silk satin embroidered with coloured silks and glass beads.

On the lid, surrounded by an oval wreath formed by silk-wrapped leaves of parchment, is a cockatrice in a tree, with flowers around, and worked in glass beads. Outside the wreath are flowers and a leopard worked in silks in tent and rococo stitches, with the name ‘Martha Edlin’ above and the date ‘1673’ below. On the frame surrounding the lid are birds and flowering plants worked in beads.

The corners of the frame rest on four round wooden feet. The underside is lined with marbled paper. The edges and seams are covered with silver braid.

  • Height: 8.9cm
  • Width: 36.8cm
  • Depth: 31.8cm
Honestly there is so much info about this piece on that link it would be silly to NOT send you there.
Shire Album # 57 “Beadwork” Pamela Claburn Says:
A cockatrice within a wreath, flowers, and the inscription “Martha Edlin” Dated 1673. Satin embrodered with silk, glass beads and stiffened ribbon; tent and roccoco stitches and couch work. Detail: 12″x14″ (30.5×35.5 cm), Detail of the lid of a embroidered jewel case.”
Source for some pictures: The Victoria and Albert’s Textile Collection: Emroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1750 Donald King and Santina Levey Canopy Books, 1993, A division of Abbeyville Press, Inc. ISBN: 1-55859-652-6