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Vintage Finger-Purse Coin Purse
Crochet Your Own Piece of History

Purses of silk thread were the first type of crochet pattern known to have been published, starting in 1824; published in Holland. Previous to published crochet patterns, the art of crochet was passed to future generations without written patterns, but duplicated from small crocheted samples.

Although there were many shape variations for purses during the 1820's, two of the most popular shapes were those in a pouch shape and also, round, flat purses.


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During the 1920's, a small coin purse called a finger-purse was a popular item. The purse dangles from crocheted chains attached to a crocheted ring, which is worn on a finger to keep the coin purse handy. These were popular for occasions to which a gown would be worn. In the 1915 Finger-Purse pattern below, the pattern suggests that the purse be made "in a color to match the gown; and is especially attractive if made with gold or silver metal thread".

No thread size is given in the pattern. This could be made with various sizes of thread; the finished size will vary according to the weight of thread used.

This pattern begins at the center of the round purse front. The chain lengths at the top of the purse and the ring are done last.

Directions are as written in the original 1915 pattern. You'll see that crochet written instructions have changed over the years. It's a challenge to crochet from instructions written in this old style but an experienced crocheter will find that they can figure the directions out. It's helpful to have a photo of the item to go by also.

It's interesting to note that the 64 page Handbook of Needlecraft sold for one penny in 1915!

Crochet History Trivia

Important note: In most old pattern instructions (especially before 1930), the double stitch meant a single crochet made by inserting the hook into the back half of the stitch or what we now refer to as the back loop only.) It was a general practice in that period of time to make all crochet stitches in the back loop only.

Also, if no stitch was stated in the pattern, it was generally known by crocheters of that era, that the crocheter was then expected to make a double stitch (single crochet made in the back half of the stitch).

Remember, when crocheting from the directions below, each time that it says to do a double, it means to do a single crochet.

Crochet a pattern that takes you back in time ...

A Pretty Finger Purse
Handbook of Needlecraft Number 2,
published 1915 by Needlecraft Publishing Co., Maine

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If you would rather crochet from modern instructions, see my Rewritten Instructions. You may still find it interesting to try crocheting from both sets of instructions to compare the vintage and modern instruction differences.

Make a chain of 5 stitches and join to form a ring.
1. Chain 3, 1 treble in ring, chain 1. *2 trebles in ring, chain 1; repeat from * 4 times, making 6 groups of trebles and join last 1 chain to top of 1 chain.
2. A double between 2 trebles, 6 trebles under 1 chain; repeat around, joining in 1st double.
3. A double in each of 4 trebles, missing 1st and last, chain 4; repeat around, join.
4. Chain 6, * 7 trebles under 4 chain, chain 3; repeat from *, ending with 6 trebles under 4 chain, join to 3rd of 6 chain.
5. Make 4 doubles under 4 chain, 4 trebles in 4 trebles, chain 2, a treble in same stitch with last treble and 4 trebles in 4 trebles; repeat around, join.
6. A treble in each of 4 doubles (chain 3 for 1st of the row), a treble in each treble, 4 doubles under 2 chain, double in each treble, 4 doubles in 4 doubles, double in each treble, 4 doubles under chain, * treble in each treble, 4 trebles in 4 doubles, treble in each treble, 4 trebles under 2 chain; repeat from * around, join.
7. Chain 5, miss 2 trebles, a treble in each of 7 trebles, chain 2, a double in each double across the top, * chain 2, miss 2, a treble in each of 7 trebles; repeat from * around, join to 3rd of 5 chain.
8. Chain 3, 3 trebles under 2 chain, a treble in each treble, 4 doubles under 2 chain, double in double across the top, 4 doubles under 2 chain, treble in treble and 3 under 2 chain; repeat around, join.

Fasten off neatly. This forms the front part of the purse. The back is made in same way up to the 7th row; in the 7th, 8th and 9th rows the doubles across the top are omitted, the entire row being made according to latter part of directions, working all around.

For the flap, two more rows are worked across one side of the second part or back, as follows:
1. Make a double in center of the group of trebles over 2 chain, a treble in each of next 3 trebles, (chain 2, miss 1, 6 trebles in 6 trebles) twice, chain 2, miss 1, 3 trebles in 3 trebles and a double in next; fasten off.
2. Make a double in double of last row, treble in each treble with 3 trebles under 2 chain and end with double in double; fasten off neatly and securely. It is a good plan in fastening off a piece of work to not only draw the thread, after breaking, through the stitch, but to thread a sewing-needle with the end and make one or two close buttonhole-stitches to hold.

When both parts are completed hold them together so that the last double across the top of first part and the double at end of 10th row of second part "match"; then fasten in the thread through both doubles at the same time, * chain 3, miss 2 trebles, 1 double in next, drawing thread always through both parts at once; repeat around to other side of the top and continue around the flap in the same way.

Finish with an edge of 3 doubles in 3 chain, chain 3 for a picot, 3 doubles under same chain.

Fill a ring three-fourths of an inch in diameter with doubles, chain 40, fasten in double at one side of top of first part, running the chain through the flap so that the latter will fold down over the first part and lie flat, chain 3, fasten in 3rd or 4th double of top, chain 39, run through flap and fasten in next double of ring, and repeat until you have made 9 chains, making 38 stitches in 3rd, 37 in 4th, 36 in 5th, then 37 in 5th, and increase to 40 stitches in 9th, which should fasten in last double at other side of top. Line the purse or not, as desired.

If you make this purse, why not share your accomplishment with us on the Crochet Forum.

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I learned this information on crochet history from the wonderful book by Lis Paludan Crochet History & Technique. The Pretty Finger-Purse pattern is taken directly from my copy of the book Handbook of Needlecraft Number 2, published in the year 1915, Needlecraft Publishing Co., Augusta, Maine, copyright expired.

How long does copyright last? See US Government Copyright Office web site at http://www.loc.gov/copyright. Under "Publications" heading, click on "Information Circulars": Circular 15 ( Renewal of Copyrights), Circular 15a (Duration of Copyrights) and Circular 15t (Extension of Copyright Terms) will be helpful.

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