Dating antique purses

Berlin work purses are a classic mid-nineteenth century purse icon. Made from Berlin wool work patterns developed by Phillson in Germany, these purses were needle worked in Merino wools. They were often trimmed with chenille tassels on the sides.

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Carpetbags from the mid to late nineteenth century were made from Wilton carpets and needle work. Primarily used for travel, they are difficult to find in good condition. Chatelaines, made in bag form, were another classic nineteenth century purse form. Souvenir coin purses from the Great Exhibition, Paris, and the Brighton Aquarium were another purse type specific to the nineteenth century.

Small, but precious, they were decorated with painted or lithographed scenes, inset into tortoiseshell or gilt coin purses.

They are very prized by collectors and tend to bring strong prices. Leather handbags from c. Hard-bodied, they looked like smaller versions of the larger luggage pieces from the same period. They were structured and fairly small.

Mounted on steel frames, with rolled leather handles, they were sturdy and useful. Plush bags were also made in this luggage form.

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The handbag was a trend that was to carry over into the twentieth century. By the end of the nineteenth century, purses were larger and more utilitarian. The Industrial Age was in full steam, women were traveling further and more often, their lives were changing, and so were their purses.

Leather purses remained popular and examples by makers such as Bosco, Meeker, and Cameo were mounted on Jemco frames. These purses have survived in large numbers and can be found on eBay for reasonable prices. Structured and roomy, they can be seen in many photographs from the early twentieth century. Examples by Roycroft, a group specializing in Arts and Crafts designs, are highly desirable and quite rare. Skins of all kinds were used, including ostrich, alligator, seal, antelope and kid. New dyes produced in Germany allowed makers to use new colors such as mauve, pink and white.

Designs included stylized florals, medallions and less commonly, birds and animals. Beaded purses of extremely high quality were imported from Germany into the United States until the early 's. Made from tiny beads, they featured designs of castles, alpine villages, Asian scenics, eighteenth century figurals, animals, birds, the Taj Mahal, mythical creatures, florals, geometrics, the Lion and Unicorn, and the highly sought after Venetian scenics. The vast majority of these purses were made in Germany, from patterns originating in Germany. They were sewn onto frames that ranged from plain silver to highly ornate, jeweled and enameled mounts.

The more elaborate the frame, the more desirable the purse is from a collecting standpoint. However, this has had the unfortunate effect of beaded purses being removed from their original frames and remounted on more spectacular ones. It is a practice that destroys the historic integrity of the purse and which purists frown on. Compact, dance and mesh purses from the early years of the twentieth century are avidly collected by many women, and yes, men! Made primarily by Mandalian and Whiting and Davis, they came in a multitude of designs and colors, and reached their pinnacle in the 's.

Handmade ring mesh had been made in America as early as , but it wasn't until machine made mesh was developed that these purses appeared in volume. Types of mesh included: Dresden mesh purses create an impressionistic effect with their watercolor designs. All of these meshes were enameled and baked to make the finish permanent. Different finishes, such as the lustrous pearlized finish, added to their value.

Drops and fringe hung from their bottoms, and enameled frames occasionally completed the purse.

A History of The Beaded Bag

The more complex and colorful the design, and the addition of jewels, enamel, drops, drops with fringe, make the purse more desirable and valuable. Compact and dance purses were little jewel boxes attached to chains or silk cords.


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Inside were mirrors and fittings for lipstick, powder, coins, and perfume. Made from brass and plastics, set with faux jewels, they are icons of the 's. Tapestry and petit point purses from the first half of the twentieth century are beautiful pieces of handmade textile art. The majority of petit point purses were made in Austria. It was considered an art of national importance, to the extent that it was supported by the government. Made in the tiniest of stitches, from and up to 3, per square inch, they were beautifully executed. Designs were varied but typically featured eighteenth century scenes, figurals, biblical scenes and florals.

The classic designs of The Lion and Unicorn from the LeViste family tapestries were a common theme and are popular among collectors. Typically, they were mounted on pierced silver frames or jeweled and enameled frames. Aubusson tapestry purses made in France were woven with a weft and a warp. Also, considered masterpieces by collectors, they are quite valuable. Cartoons were large drawings used for tapestry and embroidery designs.

Another variation of this type of textile purse was the silk stitched purse. Made in fine satin stitches, they create a silky effect highly sought after by all collectors. Plastic purses in Bakelite, celluloid and Lucite are another purse style identified with the 20th century. The bag opens to a black vinyl interior, which is the coated backing of the outer fabric. The interior shows minimal signs of use. The bag is in excellent, lightly used condition!

This is a bulky item, which is reflected in the shipping charge. The bag opens to reveal a clean, dark brown satin lining, with an open mirror pocketbearing the metal plaque label of the maker, and also has a small, satin-encased round vanity mirror. The bag has a short shoulder chain, which can be stored in the bag when you want to use it as a clutch. The bag looks to be hardly-used! Please read the listing in full and supersize all photos as I do not take returns on used items, so items are bought as seen and described. The chain is 24" in length.

This is a truly beautiful drop dead gorgeous Victorian, bead work bag.


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The condition is excellent other than the lining being torn. The clasp has an art nouveau appearance, I suspect it may be French. The bag has an 'antiqued' gold-tone metal frame with a ball-clasp opening. The bag opens to reveal a black fabric lining, which is clean and has an open mirror pocket at the back. The bag is in very good, lightly-used condition, with years of wear left in it!

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The shoulder chain is 25" in length. Large leather belted Gladstone bag by. A huge travel bag by a superb maker with cast brass fittings. A superb bag stamped Moynat on nearly all the brass with unbreakable brass handles covered in leather also stamped Moynat. The handles are in good working order and structurally they are good. The one in the top middle has more signs of wear than the other ones.

Dating Vintage Purses

Probably French in origin and all hand-made. A totally unique piece. Outside pocket under flap. Among the iconic bags on display are ones belonging to Margaret Thatcher and Madonna. The only place in the world where visitors will find so many beautiful, valuable, playful and exciting handbags in one collection. Like a number of other museums, the Museum of Bags and Purses was born from the passion of a private collector.

Before establishing an authentic collection, Hendrikje and Heinz Ivo acquired many bags and purses in a period of over 30 years. They both describe their passion as a fascination for handbags and all of their elements: Consequently, the collectors developed a full-scale museum of carefully selected, fine-quality items that illustrates the rich history of the bag in Western culture. The story of this fascinating collection of bags started when Hendrikje Ivo bought a handbag from