It's in the Bag: Thrifting Vintage Purses

They carry our cash and a million other necessities. They're an extension of our outfits... our brand-savvy... the way we think, organize ourselves, and live. And for we lovers of vintage, who happily give a little nod to the past every day, the right purse can say a lot about our personalities, too.

The best part is, a savvy thrifter can find vintage purses with a ton of character and a small price tag, if the timing is right.

This was proven to me big-time yesterday when-- having already determined to write about this subject days before-- this remarkable vintage aqua mother-of-pearl lucite purse was waiting for me at the Good Samaritan thrift store in North Versailles, PA...

Talk about luck!

This Roberta DiCamerino handbag from Saks Fifth Avenue was another great vintage purse find...


It was from the Goodwill in Monroeville and cost me $4. And I knew it was a good price for a quality bag. But my fellow friend in thrift, TheSecondHand Sophisticate from TheThriftshopper.com forum, discovered that velvet purses of this type by this designer were running on Ebay in the $400 range! Madness!

(And to think I just bought it because it was made well, and I love velvet.)

This little number is a 1940s corde bag, from the Goodwill on the South Side...


I think it was about $4, too. What I loved about it was its great art deco feel, and the fun lucite trim. This ended up being perfect for attending the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy swing concert this summer. (Click here to read about how an entirely thrifted evening outfit ended up costing less than event parking!) Swell!

This vintage bag with a romantic pastoral scene on it was a South Side Salvation Army find...


It was a whopping $4.99 and is made by Soure Bag, New York. The figures on it are puffed out in an almost 3-D effect. They don't make 'em like that anymore!

And who remembers these beaded bags from the 60s? At just a few dollars, it's as great a little evening bag today as it was years ago...


So what's the key to finding vintage purses at thrift stores? Thrift often and take the time to look at everything. Notice how a purse is made-- strong clasps and wooden or other unique handles are detailing that can show quality. Mother of pearl or rhinestone accents can also hint at a vintage history and a better bag.

And if you visit a thrift and come up empty handed? Don't dispair. What's a total bust one day, can end up being a jackpot the next. So keep your eyes open and most of all, buy what you love. That's my two cents, anyway.

Anyone here have any vintage purse stories they'd like to share? Or a purse addiction? I'd love to hear about it.

And if you happened to have missed this last "Treasure Box Wednesday" post on that week's nifty thrift store finds-- and one wonderfully gaudy vintage lamp-- click here. Otherwise, I hope to see you again for this Wednesday's thrifty fun. Can you say "gravy boat," boys and girls? I knew you could.

As always, thanks for stopping by and being a part of it all!
-Jenn

15 comments:

Lidian said...

What fabulous bags! How many stores do you regularly go to? You are truly finding some amazing things...I have had more luck in recent years with books than purses, though I LOVE purses. The good 2ndhand finds for me are non-vintage bags like the black leather Eddie Bauer backpack I picked up for $12 (online, $100)- not vintage, but very nice.

I did inherit some 1950s Lord and Taylor bags from my mom, and last year found a 60s black beaded evening bag that I offered to my eldest for her semi-formal, but she decided to use something else! :)

Sher said...

Oh yeah! Loving that little black velvet bag and am still drooling over the jade angel candleholders. I have some great makeover ideas for all of them if you want to ship them out to me...

Rosemary said...

Hi Jenn,
Aren't you the lucky one??
I never seem to find those. I still think you have much better thrift stores where you are.
I will keep checking mine though.
They must be out there.
Hope you had a nice weekend.
Have a great week,
Rosemary

Debbie said...

I love your bag collection.....I think I love the 1940s corde bag the best of all!

Anne said...

I LOVE that Lucite bag! What a find--they're all gorgeous!

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Lidian- I do hit quite a number of stores, depending on where I am during the week or weekend. I have a few favs I visit on my lunch break from work, too.

Sher- ha, I give you credit for trying but...er... no. Anyway, I know you-- you have all sorts of goodies you find all by your li'l ol' self.

Rosemary- it's interesting how what we have available to us differs by location. Though I'd imagine some of your great flea markets would have things like that. Though maybe the prices would be higher.

Debbie- hey, how have you been? I'll have to check in with you and see if your mystery project has been announced yet... Don't work too hard.

Anne- hope things are going better for your family, too. Yup, the lucite purse needs to go with me to some special occasion or something. I've been looking for a nice one after I drooled on a collection they showed on Cash In The Attic. But usually they cost more than a car payment. :)

Kacie said...

You have a great eye! I'm somewhat new to thrift stores, but I always love a great bargain.

Just thought I'd pop in and say "hello."

I'm a fellow Pgh blogger, myself!

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Kacie- Always love to hear from fellow Pittsburghers! Thanks for stopping. Off now to check out your blog.

Rose Mary said...

Love that mother of pearl lucite purse! What a cool find, Jen. Purses are always fun to look through at the thrift stores and Goodwill. It seems I rarely find old ones~but lots of newer designer ones!

Andrea Amu said...

Amazing finds! You certainly have a great collection started of vintage bags!

ThriftShopRomantic said...

Rose Mary- hey, nice designer bags are amazing finds, too. It's nice to have a purse where you don't have to worry about injuring it in some way. :) I've picked up some interesting Target purses at Goodwill like that, where I don't feel bad taking it to work, hacking around on the weekends, etc.

Andrea- Hi there and thanks! Hope your cardwork is going well.

Pollipop said...

that's a nice haul. : ) It must had been such a fun day.

Debbie said...

LOVE the bags!!! I am so proud of my vintage purse collection!

Anonymous said...

I have a Soure Bag New York, from what i can recall it is 80 years old, I think, maybe older, it is also like the one you have with 3-d effect, and black I think leather ad large, perfect conditiion, I am not looking to sell but was wondering about how much somethig like this is worth?
Thanks April aprilsun1@aol.com

asb said...

WOW, these are amazing finds!! i'm jealous! i must spend hours scouring sites like ebay and antiquespider but i've never found finds as good as this!

thanks for sharing!!
-alice