Thursday, October 29, 2015

SPECIAL POST - YouTube Video: The Vintage Purse Gallery Presents Midas of Miami Purses

Here's our latest video, which features many of our Midas of Miami purses, most of which are wicker with incredible embellishments. If you can fill in the gaps on the history of these purses, please email We'd especially like to hear from the amazing artists who created these delightful works of art.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

White Wicker Box Purse with Pansies. 1950s/1960s. Maker: Midas of Miami. Large, picnic style white-painted wicker box purse with embellisments that include blue-green velvet oval shapes with gold trim, beads and inset pansy appliques. Lined in satin-like rayon fabric. Handles are not traditional Midas of Miami. They are gold and white, like other Midas bags, but the white portion has a non-traditional pattern. Three gold feet on the bottom. Plain back.

If you do a search on this blog (search box at the top), you will see that Midas of Miami is one of my faves. I will be doing the next YouTube video on Midas purses; however, I don't have enough background information. If you know anything about the origins of these purses, please email

Saturday, August 22, 2015

SPECIAL POST! The Vintage Purse Gallery has a YouTube Channel!

The Vintage Purse Gallery is happy to announce we've started a YouTube Channel. Still working out some of the glitches, but we hope you enjoy our very first effort, owl-themed purses, which relates to the previous post here on Vintage Purse a Day.

We welcome your comments, here or at, or on our Facebook page.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

SPECIAL POST! Bags by T.J., Florence, Alabama

This post came about because I am in the process of shooting YouTube videos to share The Vintage Purse Gallery’s collection and to educate people who are interested in vintage handbags.

The first video, which I will release in a few days (barring any technical issues), is owl-themed. I chose owls because it is a current popular motif, and was also quite popular in the hippie era. I start off the video with this cute little white purse, which has a trio of embroidered owls.

It is by Bags by T.J., and, at the time of purchase, and when I shot the video, I believed it to be from the late 1960s to early 1970s. Tied to one of its straps is the original paper-and-string price tag from Peltz Shoes. $24.99 seemed kind of steep to me for the 1970s, and I even say that on the video.

It was the price tag that made me curious about the purse’s origins. A new-with-tag (NWT) midcentury purse is a pretty rare find. And there was just something about that $24.99 that didn't seem very '60s/'70s.

After shooting the video, I did some online research and found Bags by T.J.’s website, which hasn’t been updated since 1999. However, the site had an online catalog featuring purses very much like mine. It seems the company had been making vintage-style purses up until at least the late ‘90s.

 Screenshot from the website.

I also have one very similar to it, which at first I thought was another Bags by T.J. purse. This one, however, has a label that says “The Original Bag by Pat, Columbus, Mississippi.”

I can’t prove it, but I believe these two companies are somehow related.

The problem is that I occasionally see T.J. and Pat purses for sale online and they are always identified as 1960s/1970s purses, when I am fairly certain they are more modern, meaning 1990s.

I tried calling all the phone numbers related to Bags by T.J., including the 800 number on its website, but that number now goes to a scammy-sounding “congratulations, you have won…” commercial-type voicemail. The phone numbers for the president of Bags by T.J., Don T. Lemon, have been disconnected. From my research, I believe he was born April 1935 and had his business for a time at 121 Butler St. in Florence, Alabama, selling many of these purses to golf course gift shops, then moved to Metairie, Louisiana, where he passed away in March 1999. Efforts to reach his family members in Louisiana failed.

I also phoned the marketing department of Peltz Shoes, where an employee named Steve very kindly assisted me by consulting with the company’s owners, who have been in business since 1957 and still work at Peltz Shoes’ corporate headquarters. There are no inventory records for the purse as it has since been purged from their modern system, but they believe that it did sell in their store in the 1990s.

I didn’t want to have to re-record my Vintage Purse Gallery Channel inaugural video, so I added captions to clarify what I learned after the fact. Of course, I wish I had done the research beforehand, but I don’t know if that would’ve stopped me from buying the purse—although it definitely would’ve changed the narrative on the video. The purse is very cute and it fits in well with the gallery’s collection, however, it is not from the 1960s/1970s.

The lesson here is that it doesn’t hurt to check out the background—if at all possible—of a vintage handbag prior to purchasing. I often see purses referred to as being from the wrong era, but this particular type of bag is consistently advertised incorrectly, and its retro style adds to that illusion.

I still believe you should buy what you love, regardless of era, and as long as you can afford it. My main concern is that a lot of the history of these purses is gone or will go away soon, so if you were in the purse business, or if you know someone who was who would like to share their story, please email me at I'd love to do an interview!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

1950s Marcus Brothers Lucite and Woven Raffia Box Purse

Lucite and Woven Raffia Box Purse. 1950s. Maker: Marcus Brothers of Miami. Fantastic oblong box purse with milk-white Lucite top, featuring pink painted flowers embellished with rhinestones. Box portion is covered in pink woven raffia. Lucite handle and twist latch. Top flips open. Lined in pink rayon. Pink-painted wood bottom.

These types of purses are getting much harder to find, hence they are really expensive when you do. I managed to get a good deal on this one (around $30, plus shipping), and when it arrived in the mail, it took my breath away. So pretty!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

SPECIAL POST! 1940s/1950s Kit Purses

Here is an assortment of late 1940s/early 1950s handmade, crocheted kit purses. The first six came to us together, so it’s possible they were made and/or owned by the same person.

Because of a shortage of metal during World War II, manufacturers and individuals (such as stay-at-home crafters) had to find creative uses for other materials, including plastic and rayon, in order to make purses. 

Keep scrolling and you will also see a 1952 Hiawatha Bags kit purse catalog, as well as three more 1940s purses from The Vintage Purse Gallery’s collection.

Lot of purses we were lucky to recently receive here at The Vintage Purse Gallery.

Creme-colored with pastel faux pearls and plastic bottom.

Creme-colored with gold beads. Note the way the handles open.

Silver metallic thread with matching glittery silver plastic handles and bottom.

Black with metallic thread and pastel faux pearls.

Black with orange, gold and white faux pearls.

Red drawstring bag, another popular '40s style.

Three pages from a Hiawatha Bags kit purse catalog. There are a lot of glamor shots of women holding handmade purses.

Very interesting 1940s wire basket purse. I am not sure that the brocade is original to the bag and believe it may have been crocheted at one time, then the brocade fabric added later. Whoever made it did a very professional job.

Beautiful navy rayon box wristlet purse with heavy glass baubles at either end.

Another drawstring bag embellished with dangly goldtone metal circles.

Monday, June 1, 2015

SPECIAL POST! Vintage Purse Gallery Exhibit

A HUGE thank you to The Strathearn Historical Park & Museum for inviting us to exhibit some of our purses at The Tiara Garden Party, a fundraiser for the Simi Valley Historical Society.

Here's how it looked yesterday in the parlor of The Strathearn House.

If you are in the Los Angeles or Ventura County areas and would like to speak to Wendy about a purse exhibit or talk, please email