Ever Wonder where the word "Pocketbook" came from?

  1. The idea sparked my interest so I Googled it...

    In my growing file on computer subnotebooks, I have this letter on a related subject: "Recently, in speaking to a British friend in London," writes Roni Finkelstein of Colchester, Conn., "I referred to my pocketbook. When it became obvious that he was totally confused as to my meaning, I pointed to it. 'Oh,' he said, 'your handbag.' How and when did the word pocketbook come into common American usage?"
    That's easy; in 1617, the word first surfaced to denote a small book, now called a notebook; it was a book of addresses, or notes, that fitted in a pocket. By 1816, women were carrying a booklike case with compartments for papers and knickknacks, and they called it a purse, handbag or -- extending the old term -- pocketbook.
  2. Thanks for that, Lexie!

    "reticule" is another fine old bagword! :smile:

    That's the one I use when I am feeling especially antique.
  3. Portmanteau is an another olde worlde name but it refers more to luggage.
  4. I always thought that was a very odd word for a bag, but I was also pretty sure it had some history behind it, so thanks, Lexie, now I know where that came from:smile:

    Wonder what they called them before 1617...
  5. My mom has always called it a "pocketbook." I, myself, tend to say purse. I've never called it a pocketbook, but now sometimes I just call it a bag.
  6. This question made me think about a book I just read, "It's in the Bag", and while trying to find that one on Amazon (since I couldn't remember the title), I found this one, "A Passion for Purses, 1600-2005" that I will be buying; it just came out last month. I swear, after I read "It's in the Bag", I must have spent hours looking at women and how they carried/what they carried for a handbag. Drove my husband nuts. Since I live close to one of the biggest malls in the world (Mall of America) and have the perfect 'viewing' place, it was a great time to be even more fascinated with bags than I normally am. Anyway, that particular book made me rethink the idea of calling a 'handbag' a 'purse' - Now I try to remember that I purse my lips, which has nothing to do with the beautiful handbag I carry. Or pocketbook, if you will. I can't wait to read more about the history of these things we fall so deeply in love with! <---caressing her Inka
  7. Portmanteau is still used in French isn't it? I swear I learned that word when I was taking French in elementary school!

    But that is interesting! Learn something new every day!
    Thanks Lexie!

  8. I love reading mysteries set at the turn of the century and the word reticule is used quite often I love it!!
  9. I had several ring purses and two 1920's Silver Mesh purses that came from my Mother in Law's estate. One of the ring purses had a tiny powder container hangning from it that still had the puff and the smell of powder in it, also it had a little mechanism to hold coins (I suppose when you paid a dime to dance) and also a tiny notepad with ivory sheets of paper that I was told to write down your dance partners name.
    I sold them all to an antique dealer probably for much less money than they were worth.
  11. Thanks- I love bag trivia!
  12. I am fortunate to count among my treasures, a reticule from around the turn of the twentieth, made of a kind of lace called "tatting," and lined with plain "china silk." It was white originally, though the years have turned it to a rich ivory. And yes, I do use it, with white outfits on summer Festive Occasions. I thought of it today, when I was over in the white watchband thread!

    You are probably already familiar with this, but in case there are any lurkers out there who aren't, check out the lesser-known works of Miss Louisa May Alcott.

    As with her famous and commercial work, there are lots of glimpses into reticules and other assorted fashion of the time, and set in the days even before the term "suffragette" gained popularity, it's fun to see how this "early feminist" author used her pen to plant little seeds...

    Great article! Thanks for posting it! The Czech stuff sort of reminds me of the teeny tiny Uzbek embroidery style, that looks kind of like needlepoint, but isn't. I have a wonderful one, the dominant color is a beautiful cocoa brown, with a floral design in shades of blue and rose, it is my Official Small Brown Bag! And if only it were bigger, it would be my Official Regular Brown Bag!
  13. Oh, and I found out if you use the word "purse" over here in England they think you're talking about your wallet. So now I carry a purse inside my "handbag."


  14. I went from using pocketbook(because thats what my mom called it) to purse, and now bag :lol: