Model of an ancient Roman leather purse

A purse or pouch (from the Latin bursa, which in turn is from the Greek βύρσα, býrsa, oxhide),[1] sometimes called coin purse for clarity, is a small money bag or pouch, made for carrying coins. In most Commonwealth countries it is known simply as a purse, while "purse" in the United States usually refers to a handbag. An obsolete variant is a porte-monnaie. "Purse" can also be a synonym to bursary (which has the same origin), i.e. a monetary prize in a competition.[2]


Antique Indian purse, used by women.

The oldest known purse was found with Ötzi the Iceman who lived around 3,300 BC. Another early example is on Egyptian hieroglyphs, which show pouches worn around the waist. The purse-lid from the Sutton Hoo burial is a very elaborate, probably royal, metalwork cover for a (presumably) leather Anglo-Saxon purse of about 600 AD. In Europe they often showed social status based on the embroidery and quality of the bag.[3]

In the 15th century, both men and women wore purses.[4] They were often finely embroidered or ornamented with gold. It was also customary for men to give their new brides purses embroidered with an illustration of a love story.

In the 17th century, bags became more complex and elaborate. Girls were taught skills such as embroidery and needlework that could assist them in finding a husband. These skills gave rise to stitched artwork on bags. Around the year 1670, men's breeches were made with built-in pockets, which caused them to stop carrying purses. They did however carry little netted purses in their pocket to carry money.[5]

In 1974, the first appearance of the Hello Kitty character was printed on a coin purse.[6][7]

Coin purse come in all sorts of shapes: fruits,[8] flowers,[9] animals,[10] self-defense weapons,[11] etc.

See also


  1. ^ "Definition of PURSE". Archived from the original on 2022-04-30. Retrieved 2022-04-30.
  2. ^ "Definition of purse". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Archived from the original on 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2007-04-11.
  3. ^ "Alpine ice man takes revenge from beyond the grace". The Independent. 2005-04-23. Archived from the original on 2009-07-21. Retrieved 2022-04-30.
  4. ^ Tolman, Ruth (1973). Guide to Fashion Merchandise Knowledge. Milady Publishing Corporation.
  5. ^ Stone, Caroline (1985). The Embroideries of North Africa. Longman. ISBN 978-0-582-78371-3. Archived from the original on 2023-02-10. Retrieved 2023-02-10.
  6. ^ "Hello Kitty at 40: from coin purse to $7 billion phenom". Christian Science Monitor. 2014-11-25. ISSN 0882-7729. Archived from the original on 2020-10-03. Retrieved 2020-09-12.
  7. ^ Yan, Sophia (2015-08-20). "How Hello Kitty built a massive business empire". CNNMoney. Archived from the original on 2020-09-29. Retrieved 2020-09-12.
  8. ^ "Don't be fooled, this avocado is actually a coin purse". 7 April 2020. Archived from the original on 2020-10-03. Retrieved 2020-09-12.
  9. ^ Staff, G. G. M. (2020-08-11). "Make a Difference "One Petal at a Time" with the Exquisitely Crafted Little Rose Coin Purse from Female-Founded Brand hip and holy". Guitar Girl Magazine. Archived from the original on 2020-09-28. Retrieved 2020-09-12.
  10. ^ Harwin, Stephanie (2013-10-16). "7 Cat Coin Purses to Stash Your Cash in Style". Catster. Archived from the original on 2020-10-03. Retrieved 2020-09-12.
  11. ^ "This Self-defense Coin Purse Is Gonna Hurt". Technabob. 2019-03-12. Archived from the original on 2020-10-03. Retrieved 2020-09-12.

Media related to Coin purses at Wikimedia Commons