Sunday, December 6, 2015

Vintage Purse Gallery New Info

Hey Vintage Purse People!

While I will still periodically post to this blog, you have new and exciting and viewing options.

First, I want to express how much I appreciate your support of this blog over the years. It's still a dream to own a real brick-and-mortar museum, and we (including my very tolerant and incredibly patient husband) are constantly exploring options.

Meantime, The Vintage Purse Gallery is a FREE online-only museum, and we welcome visitors every day from all over the world. No entrance fee, no crowds!

You can go directly to and click on the menu for our sub-sites, or you can directly visit our sister blog, which showcases our ever-growing purse collection via photos and tags. The blog's URL is

We're also on Facebook at I've met so many great people through Facebook and I welcome your questions and comments.

I am also on Twitter, @VintagePurseGal, although I haven't yet quite gotten the hang of Instagram. I might have to have my five-year-old grandson explain it to me!

Yours in Vintage (literally; see the photo below),

December 4, 2015 at Aubergine Emporium's (Simi Valley, CA) holiday open house. Fashion rundown: shiny silver 1970s clutch purse, ivory Dalton cashmere sweater, ivory pencil skirt, blue and ivory 1960s sequined wool top, and, best of all, a blue rhinestone pin that belonged to my grandma. (For those who are curious, on my leg is a tattoo of the Three Graces on a cameo, but that's a different and totally-worth-the-pain story.)

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

Friday, May 29, 2015

Lumured Purse with Matching Change Purse

Caviar Beaded Clutch with Matching Change Purse. 1960s. Maker: Lumured – Petite-Bead. Made in USA. Clear “caviar” beads clutch over stiffly woven ivory-colored purse. Circular embroidered pattern. Ruffled top edge with self-snapping closure. Inner pocket. Adorable matching change or mirror purse with tiny gold bow with rhinestones over snap closure.

I bought this at a local antique store partly because it was 50 percent off. But, cheapo that I am, I still thought it was a little too much—even though it was comparable to or better than some online prices. What really sold me, though, was that super cute change purse!

Bonus pics! Three-way convertible Lumured purse here:

Next up: We are doing a mini-exhibit at Strathearn Park this Sunday! Very excited to be able to share a sampling of purses from The Vintage Purse Gallery. I'll be posting pics after the event.

Monday, May 18, 2015

SPECIAL POST! Interview with Dr. Lori, Antiques Appraiser

The Vintage Purse Gallery is very excited to share our email interview with Dr. Lori, the star antiques appraiser on the Discovery channel's international hit TV show, Auction Kings. Dr. Lori has shared her expertise with television audiences on Anderson LIVE, Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, NBC TV's The Tonight Show, Inside Edition, and Lifetime Television. Dr. Lori is an award-winning TV personality, internationally syndicated columnist, author, and TV talk show host with the Ph.D. in art history. Dr. Lori presents more than 150 events ( every year and conducts in home appraisal visits ( and video call appraisals where she reviews approximately 20,000 items a year.

Vintage Purse Gallery: In your work as a Ph.D. antiques appraiser, have you had the opportunity to give history and values for any purses or purse accessories (compacts, lipstick cases, cigarette holders, change purses, etc.)? Please describe a few items that particularly stand out to you.

Dr. Lori: In my years of appraising objects for clients worldwide through my in-home appraisals, video call appraisals, and live appraisal stage show events, I have appraised many vintage purses, handbags, satchels, and related purse accessories including compacts, lipstick cases, change purses, cigarette and calling card holders, etc. For instance, I see a lot of purses from the 1920s in metal mesh and beadwork. They are valued between $50 and $250 each and they have unique construction methods at you can see in this video from my TV appearance on Lifetime Television at

VPG: Do you have any interesting stories about clients who have asked for an appraisal of a vintage purse or purse accessory?

DL: I recall one client who had a large collection of vintage purses. The collection required insurance coverage with a professional written appraisal. The collection featured examples of purses with delicate hand-stitched bead work, Art Deco metal mesh, 19th Century French petite point needlework, etc. This collector hung the purses on display in her bedroom, private bathroom, and walk-in closet walls. They were installed like small scale works of art by color and theme. They looked just fabulous.

VPG: What criteria do you use to assess the value of a vintage purse or purse accessory?

DL: As with other art or antique objects, I consider quality, condition, provenance, maker, and comparable sales records when assessing the value of vintage purses or accessories. Comparable sales records are key. I appraised a purse just like your real estate appraiser appraises a house—comparable sales. When you hear values for purses and accessories, make sure you know what type of value you are receiving. I outline the three most common types of values at

VPG: Is there an era for vintage/antique purses—or fashion in general—that you find especially fascinating? Why?

DL: I have written many books on the art and antiques of the post war era (1940s-1960s) and the period fashion accessories from that time are of particular interest to me. World War II innovations sparked the use of new and re-considered materials by the fashion industry like lucite, vinyl, faux animal prints and furs. As women came of age in the workplace during the 1950s and 1960s, business fashion evolved into more modern designs much like the other common collectibles of the 1960s. Learn more about the cool collectibles of that era at

VPG: When someone comes to you for an appraisal of a purse or accessory, is there a distinct demographic? Age range, gender, etc.? Have they usually inherited the item or picked it up at an antique store, flea market, thrift shop, online, etc.?  Are they collectors or do most just have the one item? Or do your clients run the gamut?

DL: My clients run the gamut…20 year olds who love to dress in vintage couture and who shop at vintage boutiques, flea markets, estate sales, and yard sales. I provide yard sale shopping tips at which can be helpful when seeking out that vintage purse or other accessories. There are many of my clients who are 40 year olds who remember grandma by preserving a vintage handbag that was inherited. Some baby boomers in their 50s and 60s are downsizing and cleaning out some unwanted objects yet just won’t part with a beloved purse or purse accessory and even seniors are sharing their old handbags from the 1930s and 1940s with their grandchildren and great grandchildren. There isn’t a distinct demographic for purse collectors… anyone with a sense of style knows that vintage and antiques purses are cool.

VPG: Has the value of vintage/antique purses risen in the last decade? By approximately what percentage? Or, conversely, have values—in general, or of a specific type of purse—declined?

DL: I have seen the market rise over the last decade as a greater interest in nostalgia, collecting, and history has taken place in our culture. With television shows like Discovery’s Auction Kings where I am the star appraiser, I have seen a strong interest in collecting vintage objects. Beware, you hear many mis-truths about values. I reveal some of the pitfalls to avoid at

VPG:  Is there a type of purse (for example: mesh, Lucite, leather, wooden, etc.) or a vintage purse maker (for example: Llewellyn, Midas of Miami, Whiting & Davis, etc.) that you would recommend people start (or continue) collecting?

DL: Based on my extensive museum and appraisal experience, I will share with you the tip that I share with all of my audience members, I recommend that you collect in a category… it doesn’t matter if that category is broad or narrow. When I worked in museums and taught at major universities, this tip is the most important one when amassing a valuable and interesting collection: Collect in a category. Brand names are good for maintaining value and start collecting early so you can learn as much as possible about your collection. And when you are building that collection, don’t forget to negotiate when you buy. Stick to my tips at

VPG: Do you recommend that collectors only purchase items that are mint or near mint?

DL: Condition is a key value indicator so look for pieces in good shape.

VPG:  What do you think are the “next” collectibles when it comes to the vintage purses of the future?

DL: Military-themed purses are going to continue to raise in value as we approach the 100th anniversary of World War I and purses and accessories based on toy (Lego, Lincoln Logs, etc.) designs or forms will also continue to be popular with collectors.

A HUGE thank you to Dr. Lori for this very valuable information. To learn more about Dr. Lori and her work, visit her website, To get an appraisal of your item(s), see her contact info below.

—Dr. Lori evaluates 20,000 objects every year at more than 150 events worldwide. She holds the Ph.D. from Penn State University in the field of art history and antiques and provides verbal and written appraisals for collectors including online reviews at Visitors may attend Dr. Lori’s eventsmany of which offer an appraisal at no charge—which are listed on the events schedule at Dr. Lori offers a FREE online newsletter and blog along with tips for buyers and sellers at Contact email is and phone number is 888-431-1010.