Sailor's Poke Bag

Probably made by George W. W. Dove, American, 1835 - 1908

Made in United States, North and Central America

c. 1862-1865

Black silk satin with multicolored silk embroidery; black silk plain weave ribbon, and red, off-white and blue silk tassel

21 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches (54.6 x 16.5 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Costume and Textiles

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Hannah L. Henderson in memory of her husband, J. Welles Henderson, 2008

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During the nineteenth century, dress regulations for enlisted men allowed for individual creativity. Sailors thus often embellished their going-ashore uniforms with embroidery; this poke bag, and matching blouse (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2008-37-1), are rare surviving examples of this forgotten art form. George W.W. Dove was the 3rd Assistant Engineer aboard the U.S. steamer Richmond during the Civil War. Differences in the quality of the embroidery suggest that two people were responsible for the needlework, one of who may have been George Dove. The poke bag, which held money and other valuables, would be hung around the neck and was worn inside the blouse.