Or as I tend to think of it: Fancy Man Bags! Because the discerning Elizabethan gent needed a sassy little purse to carry his hankie or a few coins in. Women seemed to hide pockets & such in their voluminous skirts, while the men showed off their goods, ehem, with highly decorated purses that were rather small & thus not terribly functional. Note that there is often a handkerchief poking out of one, which may be about all the bag is big enough to carry. These purses seem to be something of a status symbol, more of an affectation than a truly utilitarian object. They were popular in England, France, Spain, & the Low Countries, & many of the surviving purse frames were made in France & Spain.
Now the gaming purses have a little bit more function. They hold coins or gaming counters (like early poker chips) while a gentleman sits at the table betting on cards or other games. But these too are highly decorated, showing status or political affiliations & even signaling where one stands in one’s bets — a less fancy purse could be an attempt to look “poor” or hide winnings. Lots of gaming purses can be found in museums around the world, & most are quite elaborate.
Here are some of my favorite men’s 16th-century purses: