Amsterdam … a mixed bag of delights at the fascinating Tassenmuseum (the Museum of Bags and Purses)

“A hand-bag museum?”

“Yes, Lady Bracknell. I was in a hand-bag museum, with a somewhat large, rare and sometimes controversial collection of hand-bags (most with handles) dating back to the sixteenth century, in it. An extraordinary hand-bag museum in fact.”

“In what locality did you come across this extraordinary hand-bag museum?”

“In a seventeenth century Dutch canal house in the heart of Amsterdam. From Central Station alight at Rembrandtplein using either the number 4 or number 9 tram line.”

Nineteenth century letter cases and wallets on display at the Tassenmuseum

Nineteenth century letter cases and wallets on display at the Tassenmuseum

A nineteenth century selfie with tweet; a beautiful French leather and silk letter case by Favorin Ledebur, 1806

A nineteenth century selfie with tweet; a beautiful French leather and silk letter case by Favorin Ledebur, 1806

An average beaded bag or pouch from the nineteenth century used around 50,000 beads and took an experienced beader two weeks to knit making these bags an expensive and exclusive must-have item amongst ladies of society

An average beaded bag or pouch from the nineteenth century used around 50,000 beads and took an experienced beader two weeks to knit making these bags an expensive and exclusive must-have item amongst ladies of society

Such beaded bags were often adorned with flowers, birds, weeping willows, temples, Oriental figures and moustached squirrels

Such beaded bags were often adorned with flowers, birds, weeping willows, temples, Oriental figures and moustached squirrels

Amsterdam Tassenmuseum beaded bag peacock design nineteenth century

From the sixteenth century ladies of society carried their most essential items around using Chatelaines; bibles, smelling salts, sewing equipment, dance cards and fans were hung from the waistband using decorative ribbons and chains

From the sixteenth century ladies of society carried their most essential items around using Chatelaines; bibles, smelling salts, sewing equipment, dance cards and fans were hung from the waistband using decorative ribbons and chains

Giving the Swiss Army knife the feminine touch; chatelaines lost popularity in the twentieth century when pockets and handbags became the rage ... and airport security became more strict

Giving the Swiss Army knife the feminine touch; chatelaines lost popularity in the twentieth century when pockets and handbags became the rage … and airport security became more strict

Rare ivory clutches

Rare ivory clutches

As well as a vast collection of historical items, the museum also displays modern-day bags owned by the famous…

Versace, 1997, as seen on Madonna's arm at the premiere of Evita. I'm so glad she had a dress to go with it

Versace, 1997, as seen on Madonna’s arm at the premiere of Evita. I’m so glad she had a dress to go with it

The ultimate 'sock' bag; a Judith Leiber design for the then First Lady Hilary Clinton inspired by the Clintons cat Socks

The ultimate ‘sock’ bag; a Judith Leiber design for the then First Lady Hilary Clinton inspired by the Clintons cat Socks

… and the infamous.

Well, Imelda Marcos must have had the odd handbag to go with all those shoes

Well, Imelda Marcos must have had the odd handbag to go with all those shoes

There are bags by famous designers…

Now that's sexy ... as is the bag; an Alexander McQueen design, England 2008

Now that’s sexy … as is the bag; an Alexander McQueen design, England 2008

… and designer bags simply made famous.

Sex and the pretty little cupcake bag Carrie had on her (first) wedding day

Sex and the pretty little cupcake bag Carrie had on her (first) wedding day

There are bags there once owned by royalty …

A Schiaparelli design owned by Princess Lilian of Belgium

A Schiaparelli design owned by Princess Lilian of Belgium

… and bags made by royalty.

An original early 2.55 Chanel shoulder bag and clutch bag next to a photo of the queen of fashion herself

An original early 2.55 Chanel shoulder bag and clutch bag next to a photo of the queen of fashion herself

My handbag in awe of the Chanels on display

My handbag in awe of the Chanels on display

There are also quite a number of items on display that certainly raises a smile and/or the odd perplexed look amongst visitors.

The ultimate mobile phone (apparently it does work)

The ultimate mobile phone (apparently it does work)

A doggy bag!

A doggy bag!

Giving new meaning to the phrase 'letting the cat out of the bag' (and yes, it's made from real leopard skin)

Giving new meaning to the phrase ‘letting the cat out of the bag’ (and yes, it’s made from real leopard skin)

Bags made from peacock feathers (just showing off now) ...

Bags made from peacock feathers (just showing off now) …

... from horse skin, ostrich skin and antelope. It's a handbag safari!

… from horse skin, ostrich skin and antelope. It’s a handbag safari!

I don't believe any of these bags have been made from python skins. None of them look the least bit like Michael Palin or Eric Idle, although the green one looks vaguely like Terry Jones

I don’t believe any of these bags have been made from python skins. None of them look the least bit like Michael Palin or Eric Idle, although the green one looks vaguely like Terry Jones

One to wear on the arm(adillo)

One to wear on the arm(adillo)

The Tassenmuseum is one of the more unique museums found in Amsterdam and certainly one of the most sophisticated not just for its fascinating collection but also for its surroundings. The canal house in which the museum is found in is itself utterly charming with authentic period tea-rooms open to visitors and parties.

Enjoying one's tea in style; the seventeenth century tea-room available at the Tassenmuseum

Enjoying one’s tea in style; the seventeenth century tea-room available at the Tassenmuseum

More on the museum’s 5,000 strong collection, opening times, ticket prices and history can be found at the official Tassenmuseum website here.

Amsterdam Tassenmuseum Museum of Bags and Purses front

TLT x

 

Amsterdam Cats KattenKabinet bell jar catCuriosity charmed this cat lover at Amsterdam’s Kattenkabinet 

 

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