The Joy of the Reticule

by Brenda S. Cox

When Emma encountered Mrs. Elton visiting Jane Fairfax, “she saw [Mrs. Elton] with a sort of anxious parade of mystery fold up a letter which she had apparently been reading aloud to Miss Fairfax, and return it into the purple and gold ridicule by her side,”—Emma, Volume 3, chapter 16, Cambridge edition

A reticule, or ridicule, was a small purse, carried around your wrist. Ladies carried all kinds of interesting things in them. If you enjoy tiny, beautiful treasures, you’ll appreciate some of the items in Candice Hern’s collections of items for the reticule. I’ve posted about those today on Jane Austen’s World. (It also explains the names “reticule” and “ridicule.”) Part 2 is now posted also.

If you want to see my own version of the reticule, here are two that I have made for myself! In the JAW post, you will find links to more authentic ones.

My simple reticule, which matches my Regency dresses.
For this reticule, I embroidered a copy of Cassandra’s picture of Jane (you can get the kit from the Jane Austen House Museum shop at, then added backing to make it a reticule.

What’s the most important thing you carry in your purse today? Is there anything you think future generations will think odd to carry around?

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