Fundraising Friday: Get out your pocketbook!

The FIDM Museum is in the final months of a major fundraising campaign to purchase the Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection, a private collection of 1,400 historic garments and accessories from four centuries. Each Friday, this blog will present an exquisite piece from the Larson Collection. 

c. 1785
Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection

In the eighteenth century, decorative pocketbooks (also called pocket cases) held money, letters and small articles like pencils and scissors. In 1779, Queen Charlotte of England presented her friend Mary Delany with “a beautiful pocket case, the outside satin work'd with gold and ornaments with gold spangles, the inside lined with pink satin.”1 Likely made by the queen herself, it survives today in the Royal Collection. This one has a similar design of trailing ribbons and garlands of flowers, and it is made of similar materials: silk satin embroidered with silver purl threads, colored foil, and metal sequins. The trompe l’oeil embroidery on the outside of the pocketbook suggests an envelope-style opening, but the pockets are actually tucked inside. The pocketbook opens to reveal two pockets with scalloped flaps and even more sumptuous embroidery, which is far less tarnished today than that on the outside of the pocketbook.


Helen Larson spent 50 years assembling her collection; now, it is in danger of being dispersed forever or absorbed into another private collection, inaccessible to students, researchers, and the general public. The FIDM Museum urgently needs your help to save the Larson collection. Please open your own pocketbook and make a contribution online or by mail, or join our #4for400 social media campaign to donate $4 (or more) by texting "Museum" to 243725. Donations are tax deductible; if your company has a matching gift program, your support will go even further. Follow the progress of the campaign in real time on our online scoreboard. You can also help by spreading the word on social media, using the #4for400 hashtag. The FIDM Museum as until the end of 2015 to finish raising the necessary funds, so please join the campaign and help save 400 years of fashion history!

1Quoted in Jane Roberts, George III and Queen Charlotte: Patronage, Collecting, and Court Taste (London: Royal Collection, 2004), 72.

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