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Beaded Bag
ca. 1840
Esther Girley Smith
Glass, linen, silk
overall: 7 1/2 x 5 1/2 x 1/4 in.; 19.05 x 13.97 x .635 cm
Gift of the Estate of Russell J. and Vera L. Wilder

Beaded bag; beaded design of basket of flowers, dogs, and birds and initials "EGS" on both sides in beads of different colors with white beaded background; beads sewn onto homespun linen; backing of cream-colored silk brocade top.

Inside this bag, the maker noted two accomplishments: “Esther Girley Ilsley Smith … made this at 17 years of age. Is mother to (Essie) Esther Bates Smith-Coffin.” In the 1800s, access to European glass beads, and the increasing number of ladies’ periodicals, fueled young women’s interest in making bags, pictures, and other beaded articles. Esther Smith may have followed a published pattern or learned from a friend how to form the birds and flowers that embellish her work.

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