Museum logo

Object Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Object Name Purse
Date ca. 1830-1870
Description Purse made of melon seeds. The purse is shaped like a basket, with a loop handle and a flap at top. The flap is decorated with melon seeds formed into flower-like loops. The round button is stitched from melon seeds. The seeds are sewn together with a heavy thread; a hole is pierced into each end of each seed for the thread to pass through. The handle has silk-wrapped wire inside to hold its shape. The purse is not lined. The top edge appears to be stiffened with silk-wrapped wire in a casing made of ecru fabric, probably silk.
(Keywords: Fashion, Accessory, Victorian, Handbag)
Acquisition Gift of the Estate of Frank I. Smith
Ownership and History More than 1,000 melon seeds were used to make this unusual purse. The purse was donated to the Staten Island Historical Society in 1953 by the estate of attorney Frank I. Smith, who lived with his family on Jewett Avenue in Westerleigh, Staten Island.

Lists of fancy goods entered in exhibitions from the 1820s through the 1850s include numerous examples of melon seed bags, and a few examples of melon seed baskets.
Earliest Date 1820
Latest Date 1870
Material Melon seeds/Thread/Wire
Subjects Clothing & dress
Lexicon Sub-category Personal Gear
Catalog Number C02.0945
Support Acknowledgment Online Collections Database record made possible by the Efron family in memory of Dr. Meryl Efron, December 2015.
Legal Status Images and text in this database are copyrighted by the Staten Island Historical Society unless otherwise noted. Items represented here are from the collections of the Staten Island Historical Society. Materials reproduced for personal non-commercial use must credit the Staten Island Historical Society. Commercial licensing is available.