In the 19th century, the labour of working class women and children carried the Industrial Revolution forward. They had nimble fingers, a great asset in the new textile industry. But as is the case today, women were paid less than the men who worked alongside them.
The first kind of rag doll to be produced commercially in South Africa was the Graaff-Reinet or Laubscher doll of which the National Museum has two in its Textile collection. The Laubscher family of Graaff-Reinet made these dolls during the First World War (1914-1918).
The so-called miser’s purse is known by many names: miser bags, ring or string purse, long purse and stocking purse to name but a few. This purse dates back to the late 18th century and was popular until the early 1900s.
In China, for over a thousand years, tiny feet were symbols of feminine beauty, elegance and sexuality. If you were a Chinese woman living between the late Tang Dynasty (618-907) and 1949, small, slim, soft and pointed feet were a must have. When looking at photographs of curled, callused toes and gnarled bones it is difficult to see the beauty, but for a thousand years men adored these tiny feet lotus or lily feet, as they were called.