Another Antique Carpet Bag (the unexpected–and colorful!–sequel)

The front.
The back. Really great pile here. 98% of it is intact.

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on Ebay when you have the collector’s itch. I wasn’t REALLY looking for a second civil war era carpet document bag—but there it was. Starting bid? A penny! I looked at the pictures carefully, got a bit excited about the original clasp and the shreds of original lining (I’ve worked up close with four other bags in this style, so I’m getting to know the original details). I got very excited about the bright colors and from the picture, the bag looked clean—THAT’S ALSO VERY IMPORTANT if you are an at home, “collecting for the fun of it” collector.

Fragments of the original muslin lining. I didn’t luck out and get the segment with the stamped maker’s mark, however. Maybe next time!

Is the overall condition important to you? It’s important to me because I don’t have much of a desire (or really much of an ability) to deal with muddy, shredded, bug-eaten fragments of anything—this type of bag is common enough, there really isn’t a reason to spend money on a wrecked example. Even a penny.

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So colorful!! There’s something about 19th century red dyes that just makes me happy. (I know that’s silly.)
This brown medallion in the center of the bag looks like a design that didn’t exactly work. Maybe it was supposed to use a few yarn colors and a weaver’s error set the loom with just one? Since this was designed for use as an actual carpet, maybe you’d sneak a table leg over this part or something! Another thought is that it was a color that became “fugitive” (meaning that it may have been one color and then the color completely changed with age–purple to brown is a common example–but that’s unlikely when you notice that none of the other dyed shades ran into a similar problem) Or maybe this backs up the theory that the seconds were used as remnants for luggage.

I’m still learning with Ebay, which is a funny thing to say when I realize that I’ve made purchases since the first year it started. But I mean that I’m still learning my own best ways of bidding and buying at Ebay.  With this bag, I already had a fun example that makes me happy, so this wasn’t a must have. It was a would be nice to have. I thought about the amount of my top bid, and I bid that and stepped away. The end price was half of my top bid and actually less than 50 dollars, if you can believe that! And for that tiny price, I got a colorful example, full of my favorite 19th century Turkey Red worsted wool yarn and an interesting geometric pattern.

This was even more pretty in person than I was expecting, and the seller packed it perfectly–which can also be a challenge on Ebay. Only a handful of sellers mention their packing methods in their listings. A few months ago, an expensive and sort of rare 80 year old doll dress arrived packed in a Frosted Mini Wheats box…a FROSTED MINI WHEATS BOX! I saw it in the driveway (a windy day and I think it blew away from the porch) and I was about to put it in the recycling bin, when I noticed a shipping label on it. The Frosted Mini Wheats shipping cost 6 dollars—the perfect carpet bag shipping was free. So you never know what you might get on Ebay, and you do have to be careful shopping there–if I’d checked out the feedback of the Frosted Mini Wheats lady a bit closer, her clever box recycling efforts would not have been a surprise.

I couldn’t be happier with this bag. One question that comes up for me, after seeing so many of these bags in person: The dimensions, construction and hardware are identical. Are these from the same manufacturer? That’s the sort of quirky “I’m going to find that out someday” question that keeps historians going, I think.

And one more close up because the green color is sort of unexpected
And one more close up because the green color is sort of unexpected and this photo gives a wonderful view off the color mixing design of the alternating rows. The looms used to create these carpets could only handle 6 colors at a time, so the designers worked around that limitation in some very novel ways.