In The King’s Daughter, the heroine of the story is Miss Dell Bronson, a fashionable young lady, raised in the lap of Boston luxury by a wealthy aunt and uncle.
In writing about Dell, Isabella described her as dainty, neat, and graceful. Dell was always fashionably, but tastefully dressed; and because of her uncle’s wealth, Dell was able to afford the latest styles of dress and accessories.
One of Dell’s accessories was a porte-monnaie, which she carried in her skirt pocket.
Literally, a porte-monnaie was a place for money—specifically coins. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, men and women carried their paper money and coins separately. Paper bills were carried flat in wallets or bill-folds, but all the many coins in circulation at the time were usually carried in porte-monnaies.
And what a variety of coins there were! In addition to the pennies, dimes, nickels and quarters we know today, people commonly carried:
Silver three-cent pieces
Three-cent pieces made from nickel
And gold coins (also known as Eagles) weren’t uncommon. They were minted in denominations of $1, $2.50, $5, $10, and $20.
Carried by both men and women, porte-monnaies were made of sturdy material, such as leather or silver. At home, women kept their porte-monnaie in the pocket of their skirt or apron. Outside the home, women would often tuck their porte-monnaie inside their purse or reticule.
Men kept a porte-monnaie in a desk drawer at home, and carried it in a pocket while out and about.
References to porte-monnaies date as far back as the 1850s but the term came into fashion during the American Civil War, when Americans considered anything French to be the height of fashion.
Which of the fashionable porte-monnaies pictured here do you think Dell Bronson would have carried? Cast your vote below