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A handbag is a medium-to-large bag typically used by women to hold personal items. It is often fashionably designed. Versions of the term are 'purse', 'pocketbook', 'pouch', or 'clutch', terms which suggest rather smaller versions.
Content of handbags might include such items as wallet/coins, keys, mobile phone, cosmetics and jewellery, books/e-books, pen and paper, food and beverage such as a water bottle, pepper spray and other items for self-defence, tampons and other feminine hygiene products, contraceptives, tissues and infant care products, or a hairbrush.
Men once carried coin purses. The oldest known purse dates back more than 5000 years, and was worn by a man, Ötzi the Iceman. In early modern Europe, men's trousers replaced men's breeches during the 18th and 19th centuries. Pockets were added in the loose, heavy material. This let men carry coins, and then paper currency, in small leather wallets.
- Hagerty, Barbara 2002. Handbags: a peek inside a woman's most trusted accessory. Running Press, pp. 14–5. ISBN 0-7624-1330-1
- Gerval, Olivier (2009). Studies in fashion: fashion accessories. A & C Black. p. 44. .