web analytics

Posts tagged ‘purses’

Don’t You Wish They Were Still Just $7.98

By , 16 January, 2011, 1 Comment

A 1955 newspaper advertisement for Whiting Davis mesh bags.

OMG Vintage Moment Of The Week – For Fashion & Purse Lovers!

By , 15 January, 2010, 2 Comments

This vintage black wool circle skirt by Madalyn Miller features a working purse applique!

Vintage Madalyn Miller Circle Skirt With Purse

Vintage Madalyn Miller Circle Skirt With Purse

The cream wool felt purse with silver and black detail work has a working gold clasp that opens up, making it a functional vintage purse!

Working Felt Purse Applique On Vintage Black Felt Skirt

Working Felt Purse Applique On Vintage Black Felt Skirt

Available for sale at, and photos from, Wear It Again Sam Vintage Clothing.

Madalyn Miller Original Label

Madalyn Miller Original Label

Fun Antique Handbag History & Facts

By , 20 November, 2009, No Comment

The first means of carrying personal items were pockets (not always one sewn into the clothing, but often a flat envelope pocket was belted beneath the skirt) or chatelaines (items on chains fixed to a belt). Then, in the Regency period, when skirts hung straight to the ground and bulk simply would not do, there was the reticule bag.

The reticule, a small drawstring bag still generally attached to belts as chatelaine, became an “indispensible”. The reticule does in fact get it’s name from the French ridicule, which likely has something to do with left-over sentiments regarding the over-indulgent Regency period in which the bags were born — as well as the fancy embroidery, beading and other adornment of the bags themselves.

Reticule Handbag With Asian Theme Embroidery

Reticule Handbag With Asian Theme Embroidery

These bags were small, as ladies really only carried about their handkerchiefs, calling cards, some smelling salts, etc., makeup was not en vogue — and certainly ever applied outside one’s bedroom.

Antique French Beaded Reticule Bag

Antique French Beaded Reticule Bag

When skirts resumed their width, some continued to use reticule bags, but they were not high fashion and you rarely see them in fashion plates until about 1870.

Though made as early as 1820, it wouldn’t be until the late 1880s that the more modern handbags with frames were in popular use. This is when those fabulous hand beaded bags on metal frames with carrying chains were made; followed not long after by the incredible slinky metal mesh handbags.

Women typically made their own bags as well as for friends and family, but quickly making beaded purses became a respectable way for a lady to make money.

As a cottage industry in the United States, women would make the purses at home — mindful to place a single white bead in a particular area of each bog (on both sides), so that the store owner could identify the purse maker and so properly pay her the commission she was due.

Single White Bead On Antique Beaded Handbag

Single White Bead On Antique Beaded Handbag

From Somewhere In Time:

If you don’t find a white bead in a beaded bag, you can assume that either the bag was made solely for the use and enjoyment of its’ maker, or that the bag is from a European country, where even if the bag was made for the tourist market, there was another type of arrangement, perhaps outright purchase, between the beader and the store which sold it.

When Film & Fashion Really Meshes!

By , 16 November, 2009, 1 Comment

These vintage Whiting & Davis mesh bags with the faces of screen legends enameled on them are really the ultimate in film meeting fashion!

These and other stunning pieces up for auction at Collect.com (starting November 23, 2009 through December 12, 2009), rare vintage mesh bags from the LaMothe Collection; found via Deanna’s Collectors’ Quest post on vintage Mandalian mesh bags.

Whiting & Davis Charlie Chaplin Portrait Mesh Purse

Whiting & Davis Charlie Chaplin Portrait Mesh Purse

Whiting & Davis Enameled Mesh Clark Gable Purse

Whiting & Davis Enameled Mesh Clark Gable Purse

Inheriting Vintage Purses: Keep Or Sell?

By , 12 August, 2009, No Comment

Kim’s still busy sorting through all the vintage purses her grandmother had, trying to decide which to save & which to sell…

Vintage Metallic Mesh & Lucite Handbag

Vintage Metallic Mesh & Lucite Handbag

Such problems! *wink*

One question she asked me was regarding how to decide what to save & what to sell.

That’s a really subjective question…

Not just because beauty is in the eye of the beholder (or the holder of the vintage bag), but because value is a tricky thing.

(Just like those MasterCard ads say. lol)

Certainly those purses which remind Kim of her grandma are “priceless,” as are any purses that Kim may have no memory of — like vintage handbags which are connected to special family occasions (worn to weddings, etc.), and/or those which appear in family photographs. But then again, purses in photographs may have stronger sales appeal because collectors like proof of the vintage item’s age — it’s a form of provenance which adds to its collectibility. So if you want to get the most bucks when the auction gavel bangs… I guess those are the ones to sell.

Rare purses will fetch the biggest bucks too; but then, will you kick yourself later for parting with such a rare purse that you’ll likely never see again?

Ultimately, what it comes down to is what would you like to get for them vs. how much they mean to you — or any other family members (including your children or future children!) who might skin you alive for getting rid of them.

Then again, whatever you keep had better be stored &/or cared for properly…

So the choices may not be so so easy, huh? *wink*

Though for me, it would probably be easy: Keep them all!

The photo shown here is another vintage Lucite purse that Kim would like some help identifying; this one is rather unusual: metallic mesh with tortoiseshell Lucite bottom & handles with rhinestones. Have any ideas? Please comment!

Was My Vintage Lucite Purse Originally A Different Color?

By , 6 August, 2009, No Comment

As promised, more of Kim’s fabulous vintage Lucite purses.

Yellow Pearlized Confetti Vintage Lucite Purse

Yellow Pearlized Confetti Vintage Lucite Purse

This one comes not with an identification question (it has a Myles sticker), but rather Kim has concerns about the vintage handbag’s conditions: Was it originally a different color?

The twist handled confetti Myles looks like a pretty pearlescent color in the pics, but it looks kind of yellow to me in real life – that is why I was wondering if the color sometimes changes in these. If it did – it changed evenly!

While vintage plastics are susceptible to damage from heat, Lucite in particular is more resistant to discoloration & damage from heat. You still should store Lucite items, especially vintage items made of it, away from sunlight and not in places of extreme temperatures, like attics, because it can be damaged.

Damages from heat include fogging, “smearing” or “smudging” of color &/or the transparency, but most often seems to show up as what’s called “sun shattering.” Sun shattering is spider-web or tiny veins of cracks within the Lucite that cannot be felt on the surface — signs of the stress within the Lucite, as opposed to an external force hitting it, causing cracks, scratches, or chips you can feel.

In theory, exposure to extreme heat from being stored in a very hot attic, for example, could result in a uniform changes such as fogging that would change the color of the entire piece. But it’s not very likely… You’d probably still find variations in color &/or transparency — and I’m betting that you’d find other signs of damages, such as sun shattering to indicate the purse has been stressed by such temperature changes.

So, if I was to place a bet on whether this vintage purse had changed color, I’d bet “no.”  But I’m not infallible — what do you other vintage fashionistas have to say?

Open Vintage Myles Lucite Handbag Showing Black Lining

Open Vintage Myles Lucite Handbag Showing Black Lining

Are Cracked Lucite Purses Worthless?

By , 29 July, 2009, 1 Comment

Continuing to help Kim with her vintage Lucite purse problems (oh, those are problems I’d love to have! lol), Kim wanted to know if any of the cracked purses had any value…

Obviously, conditions are a large part of the value of any vintage fashion &/or accessory or collectible in general, so whether there are modest signs of wear and tear or outright damages, the price will be affected negatively in proportion to the flaws. That said, I don’t think you can say that even cracked & chipped purses, or those otherwise deemed unusable, are valueless.

A lot will have to do with the rarity of the purse itself as well as the intentions of the buyer; there are other ways to use such vintage beauties.

Damaged vintage Lucite purses which cannot be repaired may have value as…

* Salvaged parts: Handles, metal hinges, etc. to repair other vintage purses.

* Entry level pieces for collectors: If the purse is fine to look at one one or more sides, beginning collectors or (like me) collectors with small budgets for buying may find a low price fine to pay to have such a pretty purse to display.

* Something else: I’ve seen some topless vintage purses in antique booths holding hankies to purchase; I’ve seen some on counter tops at vintage clothing stores holding pens etc. It made me think of ways to salvage such pretty old handbags myself and use them to hold & display items on my vanity, on my desk, etc.  I suppose very crafty girls could think of hundreds of ways to recycle vintage Lucite purses.  (I’d love to do a post just on this — but first I’ll have to find some cheap damaged old Lucite purses!)

* Nostalgia: Never ever underestimate the sense of nostalgia in vintage things… A damaged old purse may be exactly like grandma’s or one seen in childhood and it may be worth money to own & display it, just to relive &/or retell the stories behind it.

So I don’t think, unless the Lucite is shattered into fragments, that old plastic purses are ever valueless. But naturally, the degree of their damages will lower their prices (and on the internet, with shipping charges, even more so); so adjust your expectations.

But that’s my opinion — please chime in with yours!

Also, dear experts & fans of vintage Lucite handbags, Kim is looking for some help in identifying the maker of this lovely carved caramel colored one. (If you don’t have any suggestions, I’m sure you’ll enjoy just looking at it!)

Can You Identify The Maker?

Can You Identify The Maker?

Know Your Vintage Lucite Purses? Help Please!

By , 27 July, 2009, 5 Comments

Kim & her family are cleaning out her grandmother’s home and she brought home about 20 vintage plastic purses she believes are Lucite (along with about 50 other vintage and antique purses), and after spotting my guide to vintage Lucite purses, asked for some additional help.

Like I told Kim, I’m not an expert; I’ve possess far more “book learnin'” & information from other collectors about these pretty babies than actual purses, so while I’ll share what I know, I ask that those of you in the know please add your two cents.

(Since Kim has so many purses (lucky ducky!) and even more questions, I’ll be breaking these up into smaller, more specific posts — so if you love these vintage purses, &/or have knowledge to share, please keep checking back!)

First up, Kim wonders if any of us can help her identify the maker of this confetti Lucite purse with metal handles, “It isn’t marked anywhere and I’ve not seen anything close to it in all the pics I’ve looked at.”

Kims' Vintage Confetti Lucite Purse With Metal Handles

Kims' Vintage Confetti Lucite Purse With Metal Handles

Personally, I’m at a loss; there were quite a number of makers, and as I said in the guide, if the purses were marked, most of the tags have fallen of with age… If you have any help or suggestions, please share in the comments!

A Guide To Vintage Lucite Purses

By , 9 July, 2009, 25 Comments

I’ve long admired vintage Lucite purses — I say “admired” because these rare babies keep me at arm’s length with their hefty price tags and my fear of damaging them while using them. Don’t get me wrong; their rarity completely warrants the digits on tags. In fact, I don’t see them at antique stores or vintage fashion shops very often, and even online, they can be difficult to find. (All of this only reinforces my fear of using them.)

Anyway, because I don’t see them very often anymore, I was surprised to find not one but two sellers at my local antique mall selling multiple old Lucite purses; so I snapped some pics.

Vintage Lucite Purses

Vintage Lucite Purses

Shopping for vintage Lucite purses becomes even more thrilling when you consider the vast array of styles, shapes and colors these vintage purses came in. And that’s part of the challenge too — as with most fabulous vintage finds, when you fall in love with one, rest assured, finding another just like it is no picnic.

Of course, you can always fall in love again with another, right? (But trust me, your heart will still ache for that long lost love…)

pretty-vintage-lucite-purses

Because I do far more longing for & playing peek-a-boo with vintage plastic handbags, I know more about them than a non-owner or non-collector should…

Here are Thirteen Things About Vintage Lucite Purses

1. While we collectively call these vintage purses “Lucite purses,” there’s a bit of irony to the name. Technically the purses are made of Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) poly(methyl 2-methylpropenoate), a thermoplastic and transparent plastic first patented by German chemist Otto Röhm in the early 1930’s and sold under the name Plexiglass. Lucite is the registered name of DuPont‘s acrylic:

Both DuPont and Rohm & Haas licensed the process and began commercial production in 1936. Lucite®, however, never generated substantial earnings for DuPont. Since it was that company’s primary product, Rohm & Haas was able to commit more resources to Plexiglas® and it consistently undercut DuPont in price.

While DuPont claims poor earnings for Lucite, it’s the name we give to these beautiful vintage plastic purses.

2. Some people mistake Lucite for Bakelite. This is easy for novices to do, but once you’ve held both old plastics, you can more easily discern between the two. Deanna Dahlsad says:

[Lucite] has a slicker feel and is lighter than Bakelite. Like Bakelite, it would be rare to find a piece with mold marks or seams. Generally speaking, Lucite comes in bright colors and patterns that are not seen in Bakelite. Sometimes in darker colors it is confused with Bakelite. However, if you’ve done the Bakelite tests (and feel the piece does not have a damaged or altered finish), the piece is likely Lucite. “No smelli, Plexi” is what I say.

(Her article on identifying and caring for vintage plastics contains the referred to Bakelite tests.)

3. The most expensive Lucite purses were made by Wilardy of New York and once they were showcased in major department stores throughout the country, as a cheaper alternative to leather handbags. Some of the best Lucite purse designers were Rialto, Llewllyn, Charles S. Kahn, Gilli Originals, Patricia of Miami, Evans, and Myles & Maxim. Over time, of course, many cheaper versions, including knock-offs, were made. Most companies marked their handbag creations on the inside, with a stamp on the metal frames or by affixing a clear or paper label — but over the years many of the clear labels have fallen off, making identification & attribution difficult — both for Lucite purses by famous makers and even for identifying other makers of vintage Lucite purses.

4. There are many opaque or translucent colors of Lucite purses. While many agree the carved clear plastic is the most beautiful, it is far from practical in terms of use. Because it’s clear, you can see everything inside & most ladies prefer the contents of their handbags & clutches to be secret.

Vintage Clear Carved Lucite Purse From Iwannas

Vintage Clear Carved Lucite Purse From Iwannas

(You can see Marie Windsor displaying a clear carved Lucite purse — and the contents if it! — here.)

5. The most popular (and therefore pricey) color of vintage Lucite purses seems to be the tortoiseshell — followed closely by amber. My guess is that, along with being so pretty, the darker brown colors are more practical both in terms of keeping the purse’s contents hidden and, like brown leather, very easily mixed into one’s wardrobe.

Vintage Tortoiseshell Lucite Purse

Vintage Tortoiseshell Lucite Purse

Vintage Amber Lucite Purse

Vintage Amber Lucite Purse

Of course, the near rainbow of available colors, means fashionistas and collectors are always looking for the unusual shades, such as pearlized pastels and always-in-fashion black.

6. Vintage Lucite purses come in many shapes too. There are square & rectangular “box” styles, ovals, trapezoid, cylinders, “kidney” shapes, “beehives,” scalloped shaped “kidney” clutches… Some vintage Lucite purses will have “lids” that open, others open like “clams.” Most have Lucite handles, but some will have straps of chain or other material.

7. Along with the myriad of color choices & shapes, Lucite purses are often embellished with carvings, metal work (not just clasps, hinges & feet, but fancy filigree and woven metal work), and/or rhinestones, confetti, shells, flowers, lace, etc. embedded into or set upon it.

Vintage Cylindrical Lucite Purse With Carved Ends On Metal Feet

Vintage Cylindrical Lucite Purse With Carved Ends On Metal Feet

Tortoiseshell Lucite Purse With Open Metal Work ($96)

Tortoiseshell Lucite Purse With Open Metal Work ($96)

Vintage Clear Carved Lucite Purse With Large Rhinestones

Vintage Clear Carved Lucite Purse With Large Rhinestones

When it comes to some of the designs & themes, like this fantastic vintage Lucite purse with a poodle on it — or this wooden purse with a genie on the Lucite lid, you’ll be competing with collectors of poodles & genies.

Vintage Grey Lucite Purse With Retro Poodle

Vintage Grey Lucite Purse With Retro Poodle

Vintage Purse With Lucite Lid With Genie Design

Vintage Purse With Lucite Lid With Genie Design

8. One area of cross-collecting, and therefore pieces with higher prices, are the Lucite purses with built-in compacts. (These are my ultimate fantasy pieces.)

9. As I said, I’m very worried about damaging vintage Lucite purses. Along with cracks, of which no elegant & effective repairs are known (the glue discolors &/or muddles the old plastic), Lucite scratches rather easily. These scratches are especially noticeable on clear and lighter shades of Lucite. Use soft cloths and avoid products with abrasives when cleaning them; extra caution should be taken with tortoiseshell purses because the pattern can be muddled or removed. Novus Polish Kit: Plastic Polish & Scratch Remover is highly recommended for cleaning & minimizing scratches in Lucite. (A metal polish, such as Simichrome Polish, is recommended to clean & keep the metal hardware in good condition — just keep it confined to the metal.)

10. If you find a lovely vintage Lucite purse with a missing rhinestone or two, they can be replaced with care; Sparklz has very detailed information on how to replace missing rhinestones. You’ll have to consider if the vintage purse is worth saving in terms of price, other conditions issues — and your dexterity to make the repairs. (Do not replace/repair and then sell without disclosing that you did so!)

11. Clutches especially have metal frames which should be inspected for damages; if they are too bent to clasp properly, I’d avoid them. Likewise missing or damaged clasps, handles etc. Sure, if you search diligently enough, you can find replacement Lucite handles and metal fittings. (Some are old store stock; others are salvaged from purses too badly damaged to rescue.) Purse-onally, I’m not sure I’d try to tackle all the varying metal fittings — risking cracking the purse. But there are those who claim to be able to make such repairs. (Exercise extreme caution & investigation in these persons/companies before entrusting your vintage purse in their care; see my other vintage guides for more on evaluating professional repair services.)

12. The myth that antique shops and vintage fashion boutiques (real stores or virtual ones) price their items higher than eBay is false. The purses I found & photographed at my local antique mall were priced from $60 to just under $300 (for the torti), which when compared to eBay prices is fair if not actually lower than current auction prices (and recent past sales). Of course, prices will depend upon the conditions & attributes mentioned above. And if you’re looking for something specific or quickly for a special event, online searching will produce more options & more quickly than hunting in physical locations.

Vintage Lucite Box Purse At Antique Mall ($64.50)

Vintage Lucite Box Purse At Antique Mall ($64.50)

13. If you love the look of vintage Lucite purses, there are folks making reproductions & “vintage style” Lucite purses. These vintage styled Lucite purses (found via The DebLog) are beautiful, and if you fear using an authentic vintage purse, it’s an option…

Vintage Style (Reproduction) Pink Lucite Purse

Vintage Style (Reproduction) Pink Lucite Purse

Carved Lucite Top and Handle on Reproduction Lucite Purse

Carved Lucite Top and Handle on Reproduction Lucite Purse

The prices on the modern made Lucite purses are in the same range as their vintage inspirations; but, again, you won’t have the worry of having destroyed a potential one of a kind vintage piece. However, please note that even the new Lucite will be prone to scratches (and cracks).

For more on these fabulous vintage pieces, pre-order Carry Me: 1950’s Lucite Purses: An American Fashion by Janice Berkson.

More Thursday Thirteen participants can be found here, and here.

Putting Zebra Stripes On Your Spring-o-lator Steps

By , 23 March, 2009, No Comment

Currently I’m lusting after these 1950’s Spring-o-lator heels with a wild zebra print — and the matching vintage handbag.

Vintage Zebra Pring Heels & Handbag

Vintage Zebra Print Heels & Handbag

What a fabulous way to change the look of any little black dress!