Historical information

Specific historical and contextual information pertaining to this object is unknown. There are no hallmarks or documentation to indicate provenance or historical significance.

This coin purse appears to have a covering made of mother of pearl. Evidence of interest from over 20,000 years ago mark Aboriginal groups in Australia as some of the first people to value the power and beauty of pearlshell, while evidence of Australian pearlshell being taken across the sea to other countries dates back as early as the 1500s. The 1850s-60s saw the beginnings of the Australian pearling industry. Following the popularisation of plastic for items such as buttons the pearlshell market waned in the mid-twentieth century but was soon after began to re-forge in Australia with a new industry of cultured pearl farms. Most of Australian's pearling industry was initially located in Western Australia and off the Torres Strait Islands. The Australian War Memorial notes on their website that many tokens made from mother of pearl were sent home to loved ones throughout World Wars One and Two from the Middle East, England, the South West Pacific, Australia and elsewhere, but that unfortunately provenance such as the manufacture and sale of many of these items is not recorded.


The social history objects held in the Burke Museum's collection help to tell the stories of Beechworth's past by showing the social, cultural, and economic aspects of the town's history.

Physical description

A small rectangular purse with silver edging and half clasp, covered in white and cream coloured shell (mother of pearl?)

Inscriptions & markings