Purses: A Multi-Part Love Story III

Every four or five years I get an urge to add to my purse collection posts, so here we go with a post about evening bags.  I was reminded about the continuing purse saga while cleaning out a closet and finding a big ol’ stack of antique and vintage evening bags—cue the idea bulb.

People do like old purses; I sell them on Etsy pretty much as I list them.  I like them so much that I can’t resist a few of the special/old/beaded ones.  I wish I had a cabinet that I could display them in, since it’s not especially good for them to hang on a hook if they’re cloth.  My next coffee table is going to have a glass top and display area so I can rotate collections through and see them once in a while.  The good thing about doing this post is that I did wrap the purses in acid-free tissue and they’re now living in a plastic box.  Much better than lying in the closet in a pile.

This first purse is quite old:


It’s a modification of a reticule or drawstring bag that was common in the late 1700s and into the regency period (1790–1820), and was probably in use before and after those dates.  This bag is silk with a metal frame that holds the beadwork.  It’s fragile, and you can see the damage, but I just love it anyway.  I would have felt special carrying this when it was new.

This is an updated version of a reticule:


It’s probably Ewardian (1901–1910 Edward’s death or some say until the start of WWI 1914) but with the Asian feel to this fabric it could have even been a flapper purse.  I love the color and for some reason the glass rings around the top really tickle me, too.  I got this at that big estate sale we went to last year in Cheyenne with all the old clothes.  That person had the biggest private collection of antique and vintage clothing that we’ve seen outside of a museum; here are the two posts.

I can’t remember where I got this velvet bag:


Probably at an estate sale because that’s where all the good purses are available in the wild before someone (us!) snaps them up.  There are a couple of fun things about this bag.  Instead of a tassel, there is a huge velvet-covered button on the bottom.  I’m not sure if it’s original, but it works.  The second is the frame, which is quite pretty on its own, and does this:

It’s a fun way for a bag to open, just to be a little different.  I kind of think this purse is from the 1920s, if I had to date it.  I could be a 1930s thing, too.  There aren’t real clean cut dates for fashion.  Some people move on to the next new thing, while others are still using something tried and true.  This bag also reminded me of the problem with black velvet bags—they show EVERY little bit of dust, hair, and fluff that they encounter. ( Kathy here:  Just to show how much Deb and I think alike, here is her purse’s close cousin )

And it opens the same way:

Interesting that the frames are not an exact match.


Now, I do remember where I got these two bags—at garage sales:


I might have even included them in a post, but oh well who can remember that long ago?  The larger bag came from an elderly lady who had to downsize.  This was her mother’s bag and she was extremely sentimental about it because her mother let her carry it to the prom in the 1950s at a local high school.  She even left her hankie inside the bag because that was where it had lived for 60+ years.  I promised to cherish it, and I do.  The smaller hand bag was from another garage sale.  I liked the bag and opened it up to look inside.  Imagine my surprise when I found a lock of hair inside.  Everyone had a good laugh about how the weirdest things end up in a purse!  I returned the lock, and bought the bag and a pair of vintage gloves for a dollar or two.  I really like the strap on the backside that you can slip your hand into.  I think the larger bag is from the 1920s from the decoration.  The smaller bag is probably from the 1930s to ’40s.

Time for a little time warp to the 1950s and ’60s:

I just loved the frame of this purse, too.  I find it very pleasing and elegant.  Black velvet again, which I can never seem to make look right in pictures.  This little bag could go anywhere.

I did say this post was about evening bags, so this one is pretty frumpy, isn’t it?

Kind of the Midge of purses—plain and studious.  That is until you perform a little magic and voila, your daytime sensible purse looks a little fancier:

You could wrap this around the bag from the back to the front side and it was magnetized so it stuck to the frame.  The backside was still kind of plain, but if you were careful, all anyone would see is the sparkly brocade on the front.  I’m not sure how well this worked in real life, but it sure made me laugh!

Who doesn’t like faux alligator with their faux turquoise?


This was actually a very well made bag and it screams 1960s to me.  I am a little skeptical about the strap in the back since I set my purses down and forget to pick them up with scary regularity.  If I couldn’t hang it on my shoulder, it would probably be lost within five minutes of arriving at a party.  Who can manage a drink, canapes, AND a purse?

Chain mail purses have been around since Victorian times:

But, nice things just get updated and don’t seem to go out of style.  Here are some 1960s style chain mail with the zippy gold-colored one being a Whiting and Davis offering.  I’m particularly fond of the big old plastic handle on the white one.  I bought it to sell, but now I’m afraid I can’t part with it.  The white one has an area where the mesh has come away from the frame.  I need to get some tiny jump rings and fix it so nothing else happens to it.  The flapper versions of chain mail/mesh purses really float my boat, too.  I’m always on the lookout for one at my usual purse budget of less than $10. ( Me again:  The flapper chain mail ones do show up at bargain prices, but they usually need work.  Picked up this one for $20, but had to sit down with a pair of pliers for an hour and reattach rings to fix the large hole in it. )

There are several things to like about this bag:

Looking at the picture of it, it comes from the 1940’s.  I really like the pattern of the fabric on the front, and while the frame looks plain from the outside, it’s very pretty when you open the purse up.  But the wow factor is the big plastic clasp.  I hope it’s Lucite because it has the look.  But, even if it isn’t, I do like this purse and would carry it if I ever had anywhere to go that involves dress up.

I have no doubt at all that this is a 1950s/’60s purse:


It’s a nice clutch that has a chain if you need it.  Plus, it has its very own change purse inside so you can pay for a cab.  There’s also room for a comb, lipstick, and hankie.  All the things that a well brought-up lady takes out for the evening.



I’m not sure how vintage this is, but it’s not brand new either.  The decoration is so nicely done that I was happy to carry it home.  I think I found this at a thrift store, of all places, so there’s hope for everyone to find a special bag for pennies on the dollar.

Hope you enjoyed the look in my closet.  We wanted to tell you all that we did buy the yearly plan from WordPress so all of our “valuable” photos are safe.  We are trying to think of a good giveaway as a special thank you, so stay tuned.

 * * *

As a nurse I feel the need to add my two cents about how to prevent viral respiratory infections—especially in reference to the corona virus (COVID-19) and the flu.  I hope folks know about elbow sneezing and coughing as well as washing your hands frequently while singing  the Happy Birthday song or the ABC song.  Alcohol-based hand sanitizer doesn’t provide any more protection after it dries than regular hand washing with soap.  Another way to prevent getting an airborne infection is to NOT touch your face while out in public.  This is so hard to do that it requires mindfulness and maybe even a little practice.  Oh, and maybe if you don’t feel well, stay home if you can.  Here’s a link to the CDC recommendations.  I worry about you all; hopefully the flu cases calm down, and the corona virus is contained.

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