Saturday, December 3, 2011


Handmade Crocheted Purses with Lucite Pulls and Handles. 1940s. Maker: Unknown. Two wonderful purses, handmade of very stiff and thick cord-style yarn. One is small with a rounded bottom and an intricate pattern. The other is the size of a large clutch, with a zigzag pattern that segues into a straighter pattern at the bottom. Both have heavy Lucite (or other early plastic) handles and zipper pulls. Both are lined in satiny fabric and the larger one has a thin cardboard interior (exposed due to wear) to help retain its shape.

I was able to find, for a very good price, an entire lot of these bags, most of them handmade, and four of them with these incredible Lucite accents. Because of their age, they do need a few stitches here and there (which I’ll relegate to someone much handier with a needle than I), but I just love their timeless elegance. The craftsmanship is fabulous and, if you’re inclined to make one for yourself or a friend, you can still find the patterns for these online.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011



Circus or Zoo Animals Wicker Purse. 1960s. Maker: Magid. White-painted wicker box bag with an incredible circus animal design, featuring detailed felt three-dimensional animals: monkey, tiger, elephant and lion, behind a “cage” made of golden trim. Gold leatherette handle and twist-lock closure. There’s an additional label inside that says “De Pinna,” which, I recently learned, was a high-end clothing store founded in the 1800s. It changed hands a few times and closed in 1969.

This purse is my most recent acquisition and one of my favorite finds ever. It’s not in perfect condition, but just look at that remarkable detail on those animals! It’s truly a work of art.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011



Wicker Golf Motif Bag. 1960s. Maker: An Original By Midas of Miami, Handicrafts Inc., Miami, FLA 33147. Wonderful picnic basket-style purse made of white-painted wicker and enhanced with a motif of two golfing gals. They have blonde hair piled high, pink criss-cross fabric blouses, and tight ‘60s fabric pants. One is swinging a painted golf club and the other holds a golf ball. There are also flags and foliage, representing a girlie golf course. It’s got white faux leather straps, a green satin lining and interior zipper pocket.

I love Midas of Miami bags. I have quite a few, but this one is really special. And I don’t even golf!

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Hey! If you're in Ventura County, California this Saturday, November 5, come see me at the Ventura County Book & Author Fair. I'll be in booth 35, signing copies of my novel, I MURDERED THE PTA.



Thursday, October 27, 2011


Large Yellow Tote Style Purse with Owl. 1960s. Maker: Faye Mell Design, Fleurette Inc., Miami, Florida. Fabulous large mustard yellow woven fabric tote style handbag with inner kiss-lock pocket and twist closure. What makes it special, besides the great size, is the slightly-raised needlepoint owl on a branch, embellished with beads and sequins. Owls were popular in the ‘60s and ‘70s and, as fashionistas know, the owl motif has made a comeback in clothes, jewelry and home d├ęcor items. 

Naturally, I have a story to go with this purse. I was carrying it recently as I walked into a chi-chi vintage clothing store near Los Angeles. An employee remarked that they, too, have an owl purse. I looked at it and said, “Oh, it’s a Jolles.” The woman asked what I meant. I said, “The maker. It’s Jolles.” The woman looked at the tag for verification and sure enough, I was right. I told my daughter about it when I got home. She asked about the price of the Jolles bag. After I told her, she said, “They were asking THAT much for the purse and they didn’t even know the maker?”

Yep, if it had been just a bit less money, I would have that owl purse, too, and not just because it's a Jolles, but because it was awesome!

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Sunday, October 16, 2011


Woven Tote with Three-Dimensional Tree and Applique Butterflies. 1960s. Maker: JR, Specially Hand Made by Frances. Blue woven fabric tote by famous maker JR (Julius Resnick). Screwed-on plastic handles and inside zip pocket. It’s got a beautiful velvet hot pink and green floral tree and pink appliqued butterflies, with faux pearls, pink rhinestones and green velvet and gold trim.

This is my latest JR Florida acquisition. What’s interesting about it is the label inside; one of those “Specially Hand Made by” labels from the ‘60s with the name Frances. I don’t know if Frances worked for the JR company or she purchased a plain bag—which you can find online—and added the embellishments herself. Either way, it’s a lovely purse and I’ve never seen another like it.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Woven Totes with Three-Dimensional Flowers. 1960s. Maker: JR Florida, USA. Fraternal twins from famous maker JR (Julius Resnick) Florida, both are woven, burlap-type fabric bags. Both are tote-style with kiss-lock inner pockets large enough to hold a wallet. And both, delightfully, have 3-D velveteen flowers and leaves, and a whimsical faux gem bug fluttering above.

While the JR company created numerous styles of purses, this style of bag is one you’ll find a lot of, with varying designs on the front, including some with needlework. Regular followers of this blog know I have a weird passion for 3-D stuff, so my favorites are the purses with embellishments like these.

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HEY! If you're in the Los Angeles area this Sunday, October 2, come see me at the West Hollywood Book Fair. I'll be in booth C6 with other Zumaya Publications' authors and signing copies of my novel I MURDERED THE PTA.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wicker Purse with Strawberries. 1960s. Maker: Unknown. White-painted wicker picnic-style basket bag adorned with faux strawberries and leaves. Lined with gold felt. Simple elastic band closure.

When I found this purse, I thought it was a little pricey, considering its condition. The wicker is a bit shabby and the strawberries have seen better days—probably somewhere around the year of my birth—but I LOVE FRUIT PURSES. I don’t know why I love them so much. Perhaps because they’re campy and fabulous. I love camp. And fabulousness. I have a vintage glass fruit necklace and fruit basket earrings, too. Of course. Who doesn’t?

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Bonus: You all know how much I love Midas of Miami purses. I wrote an article in 2009 about mid-century vintage handbags for Antiques & Collecting magazine. The cover featured a shot I took of my wicker Midas elephant purse, one of the biggest treasures in my collection.
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Last night I found a link to someone selling a Midas purse. Click here and scroll down to the bottom of the description. The seller is including a copy of my article! I wonder if I should offer to autograph it for her...

Speaking of which, if you're going to be in the Los Angeles area October 2, visit the Zumaya authors' booth at the West Hollywood Book Fair. I'll be signing copies of my novel I MURDERED THE PTA. Stop by, say hi and show me your vintage purse!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kooky Gambling Themed Purse. 1960s. Maker: Unknown. Drum-shaped bucket purse made with a combination of materials that include an exterior consisting of a primitive-style jute—or something similar that looks a hairy tree and feels like stiff plastic—beige woven fabric and brown trim stitching. It’s got a braided handle and loop closure and button-like accents. But the really terrific and extremely odd part is all the miniature stuff that’s glued to it: playing cards, faux coins, billiard balls, bowling pins, dice, a plastic clothespin, a plastic slot machine, gold-tone pistols in holsters, two packs of cigarettes and a gold-tone cigarette lighter.

I’ve seen a number of gambling-themed purses and I have a few (or more) in my collection, but this one is by far the weirdest. I’m considering taking it with me next time I play poker so I can use it as a distraction!

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Plastic Covered Mama and Baby Owls Purse. 1960s. Maker: Unknown. Fabulous cloth bag with a whimsical three-dimensional owl design. The owls are made of curly fur fabric, glitter glue, gold paper (ears and beaks) and googly eyes. The mama owl is winking. There’s a gold-painted tree in the background and it looks as if the trio are sitting on a wooden fence. The entire bag is covered in plastic.

This is a recent acquisition from a vintage clothing show and I got a great deal on it. I love plastic covered bags with these sweet designs. What makes this one so special is that it is a larger, useable size. Plus, owls are very “in” right now—not that I care about “in,” but I got a lot of compliments on it when I took it on errands with me yesterday.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Needlepoint Monogram Purse. 1960s. Maker: JR Florida, USA. Wonderful tote-style large-weave red bag with a needlepoint embellishment affixed to the front. The needlepoint is red, ivory and blue, and has the initials WMD. No zipper, but the inside has two compartments and a separate, kiss-lock section for a wallet or other valuables.

I love JR Florida bags. Many of them are tote-style and many have unusual and/or custom designs. What’s special about this one is that it’s got my first initial and my husband’s first initial, plus our last initial. I know that’s silly, but it’s also pretty cool. And, yes, the seller of this bag noticed—as did I—that WMD could mean “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” If purses are WMDs, then I am a super-power!

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hey there, Vintage Purse People!

I’m sorry I haven't posted for a while. You know how that goes. Life and such. I’ve been busily working at my day—and sometimes, night—job as a professional freelance writer, mostly writing articles and advertorials for a newspaper.

I have great news to share. After an 11-year journey, my comic mystery novel I MURDERED THE PTA is now available from Zumaya Publications under its Enigma imprint. I MURDERED THE PTA was a TOP FIVE finalist in Court TV's 2006/2007 Search for the Next Great Crime Writer.
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To learn more about I MURDERED THE PTA, visit my website or go to the Zumaya Enigma page. (The book's main character loves to wear vintage bowling shirts!)

Now, for those of you anxiously awaiting to hear about my recent acquisitions…

“Telephone” Cord Purses. 1940s. Maker: Unknown, but possibly Plasticoil. One very large clutch style cord bag in primary colors and another in brown and white on greenish-brown fabric backing with an Asian-style motif.

I’ve mentioned this before as I have several of these wonderful bags in my collection, but these are NOT telephone cords. A story that was told to me—and I can’t validate it—was that, after World War II, plastics companies were looking for something else to create after contributing necessary items to the war effort—which was then over. So, someone decided to make these cool purses. Again, I don’t know if this information is correct.

What I love about these is that the clutch is an unusually large size, so I can actually carry ALL of my stuff in it. The other has that fabulous design. I’ve seen it before, but not in brown and white. As for pricing—these two ran the extremes. I paid way too much for the clutch—but I wanted it SO BAD. The other was very inexpensive. I’m not tellin’, but let’s just say my mojo was working for me that day.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bejeweled Taurus Kit Purse. 1960s. Maker: Unknown, but likely a General Crafts Corp. JewelTone Handbag. Linen-look tote-style purse with a Taurus the Bull motif in gold trim and sparkling faux gems and sequins, in colors of turquoise, green, purple, blue and pinkish-gold. Inside zipper pocket and wood bottom, typical of these kit purses.

This is a recent acquisition and it’s special because it’s my first zodiac sign kit purse. Regular readers of this blog know that I have—um—a few—quite a few—of these.

Today I was doing errands and a woman at my bank commented on the bag I was carrying, the pagoda kit purse. “I’ve never seen anything like that before,” she said. “Oh, I have four of these,” I said. “…just of this one design.” I really should be ashamed of myself.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Huge Wicker Purse with Needlepoint Windmill Scene. 1960s. Maker: Unknown. Very large (14.5” high by 10” wide) and heavy wicker purse that resembles a picnic hamper, except this one’s got some seriously elaborate decorations. Someone went crazy with the gold trimmings, white beads, faux gems and rhinestones. But that’s only to complement the needlepoint scene at the front of the purse, complete with windmill, farmhouse, country road and foliage. On one side of the purse is a needlepoint lady and on the other is her gentleman. Their clothing looks circa the 17th century. The handle is wicker, wrapped in gold trim. There are two beige velvet bows on top, accented by rhinestones. Inside are shiny orangey-pink pockets that resemble hanging shoe-holders you’d find in a woman's closet, but are much smaller. Instead, they seem perfect for those tiny bottles of liquor they give you on airplanes.

Not that I’m saying you should carry around tiny bottles of liquor. But this purse is so over the top, that's what came to mind!

Special thanks to my friend and partner in vintage, Wendy, who gifted me with this fabulous find for my birthday!

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Magic Mushroom Kit Purse. Late 1960s. Maker: Unknown, possibly a General Crafts kit, put together by someone’s mom. Textured fabric tote-style purse with matching vinyl handle and accents in the unusual color of yellow—not discoloration, but the original shade. Pattern features a delightful motif with mushrooms and flowers, all done up in 3-D using an assortment of trims, faux gems, faux pearls and other sparkly geegaws (a real word, according to yourdictionary.com).

Regular followers of this blog know that I have a ton of these kit bags, but what made me buy it was the fabulous hookah-smoking caterpillar. I’m not kidding. See close-up pic, below.

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Crocheted Box Purse. 1940s. Maker: Unknown. Navy blue crocheted purse with wristlet handle and gorgeous glass—not Lucite or other early plastic—ball accents. Zip closure. It’s possibly handmade from a pattern and is in very good condition.

I love classic ‘40s styling, and this is an unusual piece because of its shape and design. I bought it yesterday and it set me back a whopping five bucks! How cool is that?

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hey there vintage purse people! I’m back after a month-long hiatus. Hope your holidays were as fabulous as mine!


Plastic Beaded Purse with Flex Snap Closure. 1960s. Maker: Unknown. Super cool oblong cloth purse covered entirely in tiny white plastic beads. It’s accented by three crystal-enhanced hexagons that run across the diagonal and have pink roses with green leaf pattern underneath. It’s lined and has a "Made in Hong Kong" tag and zippered interior pocket. It's also got a goldtone rope chain and a snazzy flexible closure that snaps shut.

I recently wrote some ad copy (in my other life as a freelance writer) for modern homemade purse kits that have closures made of metal measuring tapes. The new purses snap shut in the same fashion as this old one. You can check them out here. (Note: This is NOT the copy I wrote, but the manufacturer of the purse pattern.)

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