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Workbag

1827
Origin: England, Birmingham, worn in Ireland, Christianstown
Overall Length: 10.25 inches, Overall Width: 10 inches
Copperplate printed silk tafetta, lined with a white polished cotton. The print is mounted over paper or light paste board. The bag is primarely constructed with a green silk twist ("S" twist) and white cotton sewing threads. The draw string is an off white silk satin ribbon.
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 2016-166
Pale pink silk drawstring workbag or reticule. The central roundel is printed with a copper plate image of a slave kneeling and chained to the ground. The foreground shows a group of slaves being whipped by their master. The reverse is also printed, but with a stanza from William Cowper's poem on slavery printed in "The Task" in 1784. The stanza reads "Thus man devotes his brother, and destroys; And worse than all, and most to be deplored,
As human nature's broadest, foulest blot, Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat. With stripes, that mercy, with a bleeding heart, Weeps when she sees inflicted on a beast."

Made by the Female Society for Birmingham, West Bromwich, Wednesbury, Walsall and their Respective Neighbourhoods for the Relief of British Negro Slaves.
Label:English women carried workbags as a fashionable accessory to hold their pocketbooks, handkerchiefs and even keys. While often embroidered with floral patterns, this workbag takes a more political and moral conviction.

Established on April 8, 1825, the Birmingham, England, Female Society for the Relief of British Negro Slaves, produced literature, printed albums, purses and workbags for sale to help raise awareness of the cruelty to enslaved Africans and to provide money for their relief. These women, many members of the Society of Friends or Quakers, began one of the earliest Free Labor Movements specifically against the purchase of slave made West Indian sugar. Identical objects and literature crossed the Atlantic and helped to fuel the American abolitionist movement
Provenance:A small note included with the bag reads:
"Jane Neale to her dear friend Sarah Lloyd, Christians town 4th month 26th 1827, lent by Mrs Pearse. Pendower"

Jane Neale was born on May 29, 1798 at Christianstown, Kildare, Ireland to Abraham and Rebecca Neale (Forbes). The Neale Family was a well established Irish Quaker family.
Inscription(s):Printed on the reverse: "Thus man devotes his brother--and destroys,/ And worse than all, and most to be deplored,/ As human nature's broadest, foulest blot;--/ Chains him, and whips him, and exacts his sweat./ With stripes, that Mercy, with a bleeding heart,/ Weeps when she sees inflicted on a Beast."