Thursday, December 22, 2016

Put It In Your Pocket

A brief history of pockets:
Derived from the Anglo-Norman poket, meaning “little bag,” the pocket is an object built solely to contain other objects. It first emerged in the late 17th century when it replaced the reticule, a small, embroidered bag closed with a drawstring. Although men’s pockets have remained relatively stable over time, women’s pockets have undergone a number of transformations. Pockets of the 1780s looked much different than they do today. Easily detachable, they were tied around the waist and worn under aprons, skirts, and petticoats—hence why Lucy Locket lost her pocket. Pockets allowed women to move beyond the boundaries of the home.

The cumbersome pockets of the 18th century were large enough to hold a range of curious items: pencils, chestnuts, corkscrews, needles, buttons, handkerchiefs, scissors, knives, lumps of sugar, flasks, and—as in the case of Samuel Richardson’s 1740 Pamela—“above forty sheets of paper, and a dozen pens, and a little phial of ink … and some wax and wafers.” By the mid-19th century, pocket-sized objects had multiplied: pocket almanacs, pocket calendars, medical pocket-books, and pocket maps, which made for easy transport of items that were previously too large for carrying. Women were also likely to keep pocket diaries, which they could access quickly to jot down daily occurrences or observations.
What's in your pocket?

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