Jay Thorpe

1940s copper-beaded Jay Thorpe evening purse from the collection of The Vintage Purse Gallery.

From the Vintage Fashion Guild, http://vintagefashionguild.org/label-resource/thorpe-jay/ "Jay Thorpe was an exclusive store located at 24 – 26 W. 57th Street, New York which opened in the 1920s. One of the best stores on 57th Street, Jay Thorpe offered custom made clothing from French and in-house designers. The store was on an equal footing with Henri Bendel and Hattie Carnegie in terms of quality, but had a more eclectic image. Private fashion showings took place in the fourth floor bistro, where customers could relax with refreshments while watching models stroll by in latest fashions.
Wilson Folmar was the head designer in the custom department from the 1930s to the 1950s. The store was out of business by the early 1970s. --Written by coutureallurevintage.com"

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art, http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/158920: "Jay Thorpe was founded in 1920 by Charles J. Oppenheim, Jr. A specialty retailer, the firm offered custom-made goods as well as French imports. Oppenheim's family was firmly rooted in retail. His father, Charles J. Oppenheim, Sr. (1890-1941) and grandfather, Albert Oppenheim (1832-1914)--who were later joined by Israel D. Levy--founded the New York City department store Oppenheim, Collins & Co. Grandfather Albert had also been associated with Brooklyn department store Abraham & Straus and his grandmother Mary was a member of the Abraham family."

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 (www.DrLoriV.com/events) every year and conducts in home appraisal visits (www.DrLoriV.com/pick) 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 http://goo.gl/vvkApL.

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 http://www.DrLoriV.com/Blog/ID/4124/Values-Auction-Insurance-Retail.

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 http://www.DrLoriV.com/Tips/ID/79/1950s-1960s-Collectibles.

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 http://www.DrLoriV.com/Tips/ID/68/Yard-Sale-Tips 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 http://www.DrLoriV.com/Blog/ID/4087/Are-Antiques-Values-too-High.

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 http://www.DrLoriV.com/Blog/ID/4136/Negotiate-when-Antiques-Shopping.

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, www.DrLoriV.com. 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 http://www.DrLoriV.com/written. Visitors may attend Dr. Lori’s eventsmany of which offer an appraisal at no charge—which are listed on the events schedule at www.DrLoriV.com/events Dr. Lori offers a FREE online newsletter and blog along with tips for buyers and sellers at www.DrLoriV.com. Contact email is www.DrLoriV.com/contact and phone number is 888-431-1010.

Earl Gresh Wood Purses

UPDATED October 22, 2017

A HUGE thank you to Deborah S. at The Smithsonian, who found the original accession information on an Earl Gresh purse that was donated in 1941! See below for a newspaper ad, and photos from the Smithsonian's archives.

Information below from Florida's Lost Tourist Attractions, http://www.lostparks.com/gresh.html

"Earl Gresh was a man of many careers: a bandleader, WSUN radio's first announcer, a boat builder, a fisherman, an editor. But, in the Great Depression of the 1930's, it was his talent for woodworking that pulled him through. In 1931, working out of a small shop behind his house at 232 12th Avenue Northeast in Saint Petersburg, Earl began making a living fashioning wooden buttons, lures, purses, and tackleboxes and selling them to locals and tourists alike. His products caught on, enabling him to move to a larger gift shop at 2221 Fourth Street North in 1937. It was here that, in 1940, he built his Wood Parade, a museum of wood featuring samples of woods from around the world. A large cypress tree stump formed the centerpiece of his museum, but his crowning work was the sixteen half-size marquetry murals that depicted the life of Christ. (These were later moved to Memorial Park Mausoleum at 49th Street and 54th Avenue North).
With the Sunshine Skyway diverting cars to 34th Street and reduced tourist traffic, the Wood Parade closed in 1959. In his later years Earl devoted himself to fishing, founding the St. Petersburg Rod and Gun Club. He died in 1977 at the age of 81."

Photos of purses and Ephemera below from the collection of The Vintage Purse Gallery, with the exception of ad from Newspapers.com, and information provided from The Smithsonian.

Earl Gresh purse with initials.

Earl Gresh imprint inside bag above.

Front of post card showing Earl Gresh's Wood Parade.

Back of post card.

Tampa Bay Times, March 26, 1944
Accession card from the Smithsonian

The model in this Earl Gresh brochure is Gerry Meyer, whose daughter contacted The Vintage Purse Gallery and identified her. If you have any original photos or other brochures with Ms. Meyer modeling Earl Gresh bags and are willing to part with them, please email info@vintagepursegallery.com.

Earl Gresh "Stripewood Pocketbook" with all of its original packaging.

More information about Earl Gresh on this site: http://luresnreels.com/woodparade.html



Description: From Bag Lady University: http://www.bagladyemporium.com/BLU/index.php?n=Main.Plasticflex
Patent 2,256,645 was filed March 28, 1941 to Florence Kuhlman for Robert Appel, New York, NY. It covers an innovative weaving method used to assemble "provide a material comprised of interfitted rigid units...by pliable means interlace with said units whereby an articulate, decorative and ornamental surface is obtained."

"The latest member of the R. Appel "plasticflex" family is an enormous underarm with a matching small plasticflex top zipper bag inside. This new pair retails for $7.50 complete and is shown in the various color combinations for which this line is well known."

 Photo of woman holding plastic tile clutch (either Plasticflex or Jorues) from The Vintage Purse Gallery's collection.

Note from Wendy Dager of The Vintage Purse Gallery: I did extensive online research to find out just who Ms. Kuhlman was, with no success, even checking sites such as Ancestry.com, as well as online obituaries. There aren't that many Florence Kuhlmans, but there are/were a few, and I'm not sure if any of the women I found (now deceased) are this inventor. Also, Robert Appel was a tough one to find as well, with a slightly more common name. If you know who these people were (they were based in NYC in the 1940s), or if you know any of their friends, family or former coworkers, please email me at info@vintagepursegallery.com. Also, I have read in numerous places that these plastic tiles were used because leather was scarce during WWII. However, I have never actually met someone from that era who could confirm this. Your opinions and comments are more than welcome!

Photos on this post are from The Vintage Purse Gallery's collection, plus two of Florence Kuhlman's patents (per Google patents; see links), and a lawsuit filed with regard to a patent infringement.

Patent: From Google patents: http://www.google.com/patents/US2256645
Decorative material
US 2256645 A
ABSTRACT  available in


DESCRIPTION  (OCR text may contain errors)
Sept. 23, 1941.
AT oRNl-:Y
Patented Sept. 23, 1941 Florence Kuhlman, New York, N. Y., assignor to EobertAppel, New York, N. Y.
Application March 28, 1941, Serial No. 385,650
4 claims. (c1. 41-34) This invention relates to decorative material Aof the type which may be employed for covering handbags, belts, and other accessory articles of apparel.
An object of the invention is to provide a decorative material which has long wearing properties, is highly attractive, and is inexpensive to manufacture.
Another object is to provide a material formed of intertted rigid units and to so mount said units as to alford the material a high degree of articulateness.
A further object is to provide a material comprising a plurality of interiitted rigid units and pliable means interlaced with said units whereby an articulate, decorative and ornamental surface is obtained.
Other objects of the invention reside in novel means for securing said material to an accessory article of apparel.
'Ihe foregoing objects and other objects, features, and advantages of the invention will be pointed out in the following specification or will be apparent therefrom. The accompanying drawing, forming the basis for the specification, illustrates conceptions of the invention lat present preferred. In said drawing:
Fig. 1 is a face view of apportion of material made in accordance with the invention.
Fig. 2 is a perspective view of a ladys handbag illustrating a preferred application of the Ymaterial.
Fig. 3 is an enlarged cross-sectional view as taken on the plane of the line 3-3 of Fig. 2.
Figui is a fragmentary vertical sectional view showing an alternate mannerof securing .the decorative material upon a ladys handbag.
In that embodiment of the inventionwhich is illustrated, the decorative material comprises a preferably fabric backing sheet I0, a series of spaced tapes or the like II, a series of transversely arranged spaced tapes or the like I I, and a plurality of units I3.
'I'he backing sheet, while preferably fabric, may be leather or any material which has a desired degree of pliability for the purpose intended.
Both series of tapes may be formed of longitudinally folded strips of fabric, leather, or like pliable material or may be Strands, cords, or ropes. The tapes Il and I2 intersect as can be seen from Fig. 1 and it is preferred that they be interwoven in the manner of basket weaving.
to the edges of the backing sheet as by stitching, gluing, or by wire staples.
The units I3 may be suitably shaped and may be made of any rigid material. However, it is preferred to make the units of plastic compound of the nature of 4Catalin, Bakelite, Beetleware, etc. I
To reduce cost and also weight, the unitsv I3 are each formed as a shell forming a hollow interior I4 where the tapes II and I2 intersect.
Each unit is formed with opposed openings i5 for the tapes II and transverse opposed openings I6 for the tapes I2. The units may be decorated, be formed with attractive designs or shaped to provide a pleasing harmonious area as indicated in the drawing.
As can be seen, the units I3 are arranged coplanar with the openings I5 of a row thereof in alignment so that a tape II may be threaded through said openings and secured at its ends to the backing sheet as described. Several suchv rows of units, commensurate with the height .of the, backing sheet, are so mounted until the f surface of said sheet is covered by the several rows of units. The transverse tapes I2` are similarly threaded through the aligned openings I6 and secured as before.
The units I3 are preferably in edge touching engagement as shown to obviate undue displacement movement among them and yet permittingl the desired articulation. While shown as square units in the drawing. other shapes such as round, hexagonal or octagonal may be used. In the latter case. the backing sheet would become visible in the spaces between the unit, a condition which may be employed to furtherv enhance the appearance of the material.
In the above manner a decorative material is provided which has many uses as can be well understood. A preferred use for this material is as a ladys handbag cover as represented in Fig. 2- of the drawing. Although the material thus formed is pliable it is suiiiciently rigid so that it will maintain its shape unless under normal manipulation but can be articulated in the manner of a fabric or a piece of leather.
Thus, the material lends itself for use in frameless bags as shown in Figs. 2 and 3, it being merely necessary to stitch together the adjacent edges of a folded piece of said material as at I1 to form an envelope bag. Suitable closure' means I8 may be provided for the bag opening'. It will be noted that the ends of the tapes` II are firmly held by the seam I9 Vthus formed.
The ends of both series of tapes may be secured This may be in addition to the mentioned secur- 2 A ing means or in lieu thereof. Similarly the ends of the tapes I2 may be secured by the stitching by. means of which the closure means Il is secured.
In thevusual manner, the bag may be provided with a lining 2l.
sides, and pairs of opposed openings in said sides'. said units being arranged with their bases in edge to edge relation. and a transverse series oi' interlaced tapes passing through the aligned As shown-in Fig`. 4, in bags provided with frames, the frame 2| may serve to secure the Y tapes II and I2, the backing sheet Il, and the lining 22. From the foregoing it may be seen that'an attractive decorative material has been provided which has many uses. particularly for accessory articles of apparel. Inasmuch as this disclosure is intended as exemplary only of the invention, it should be understood that many changes within the spirit and scope of the invention as dened in thel following. claims may well be made by those skilled in the art.
What I claim as new and desire to secure by Letters Patent, is:
l. A decorative material comprising a backing sheet, a plurality of hollow box-like units disposed on said sheet and each formed with sloping walls, said walls having transversely arranged pairs of openings, a series oi' tapes each passing through the aligned pairs of openings of a row of-said'v units. -andanother series of tapes ar'- range'd' transversely tothe flrst mentioned series and 'each passing through the other pairs of openings of the. transverse rows of said units, each unit having edge contact with adjacent units, said tapes bridging the gaps 'between adjacent sloping walls. .l v
2. In a decorative material, a plurality, of decorative units arranged side by side each comprising a hollow rigidmember having sloping aligned openings'of a row of said umts, andv pairs ofA said opposed openings to inter-connect .gaps between adjacent units.
v 4. A decorative material comprising a plurality of decorative units arranged side by side. each unit having a top and side walls, said side walls having a portion thereof out of line of a plane lying between the units and perpendicular to the tops thereof, said units having partial edge contact with adjacent units, and the out-of-line portions of adjacent units opposing one another to produce a gap between portions of the units,
said units having transverse openings extendingtherethrough and through said out-offline portions, a series of tapes each passing through another series of tapes arranged transversely to the first series and each passing through the other aligned openings of the transverse rows of said units, said tapes bridging said gaps.

Rare box style Plasticflex bag from The Vintage Purse Gallery's collection.

Earlier Patent for Similar Design: http://www.google.com/patents/USD121439
Design for a handbag ok
US D121439 S


DESCRIPTION  (OCR text may contain errors)
Patented July 9, 1940 UNITED STATES Des. 121,439
' PATENT OFFICE DESIGN FOR A HANDBAG OR SIIVIILAR ARTICLE Florence Kuhlman, New York, N. Y., assignor to Robert Appel, New York, N. Y.
Application May 21, 1940, Serial No. 92,494
Term of patent 3% years To all whom it may concern:
Be it known that I, Florence Kuhlman, a citizen of the United States, residing at New York city, in the county and State of New York, have invented a new, original and ornamental, Design for a Handbag or Similar Article, of which the following is a specification; reference being had to the accompanying drawing, forming part thereof.
Fig. 1 is a perspective view of a handbag or similar article, showing my new design.
Fig. 2 is a side view of one of the plaque elements of the design.
The side and end of the handbag not shown in Fig. 1 of the drawing are substantially like the side and end shown.
The characteristic features of the design reside in the ornamentation of the handbag.
I claim:
The ornamental design for a handbag or similar article, substantially as shown and described.

1945 lawsuit regarding infringement ("double patenting") of Kuhlman's purse patents: http://www.leagle.com/decision/194580960FSupp749_1638.xml/APPEL%20v.%20LILLING


60 F.Supp. 749 (1945)
APPEL et al. v. LILLING.
District Court, S. D. New York.
April 26, 1945.

David J. Moscovitz, of New York City (Mock & Blum and Percy Freeman, all of New York City, of counsel), for plaintiffs.

Irving Frederick Goodfriend, of New York City, for defendant.

GODDARD, District Judge.
The defendant has moved for summary judgment under Rule 56 dismissing the complaint on the ground that the patent on which the suit is based is invalid for double patenting.
The suit is for the infringement of Patent No. 2,256,645. This patent, issued on September 23, 1941, to Florence Kuhlman on an application filed March 28, 1941, and assigned to Robert Appel, is for a decorative material, such as may be used on handbags. Claim 2 of the patent is typical: "In a decorative material, a plurality of decorative units arranged side by side each comprising a hollow rigid member having sloping sides, and pairs of opposed openings in said sides, said units being arranged with their bases in edge to edge relation, and a transverse series of interlaced tapes passing through the aligned pairs of said opposed openings to interconnect the units."

It appears from the motion papers that the plaintiffs had also owned Design Patent No. 121,439, issued to Florence Kuhlman on July 9, 1940, on application filed May 21, 1940, and assigned also to Robert Appel. The design protected by this patent was for a handbag or similar article. The claim is limited to the design shown in the drawing, which consists of a number of plaques arranged in rows on the surface of the handbag with links between the holes in the sides of the adjacent plaques. There can be no doubt but that the drawings for the two patents are of similar decorative material.
The precise question is whether the two patents are identical so as to be subject to the defense of double patenting. To arrive at a decision on this question the claims of the two patents must be examined [60 F.Supp. 750] to see if they are identical. See Western Electric Co. v. General Talking Pictures Corp., 2 Cir., 91 F.2d 922, 926, affirmed 304 U.S. 175, 546, 58 S.Ct. 849, 82 L.Ed. 1273. I believe that the claims of the two patents are not sufficiently identical to be subject to this defense.

The design patent is for an ornamental design formed by rows of plaques with certain indicated features. The plaques of the article patent are not so limited. Substantially changing the design on the top of the plaques would take the design outside of the protection of the design patent. Nevertheless, if strung on tapes, these plaques would infringe on the article patent. The design patent does not show what the connecting links are, nor whether they serve any function. The article patent provides for tapes running through all of the plaques in a line. The plaques in the design patent might be solid, whereas they must be hollow to come within the claims of the article patent. The plaques in the design patent might be fastened to the bag in any number of ways, such as by stitching, or by stapling. But under the article patent, the plaques must be fastened to the bag by means of the transverse tapes. The plaque surface in the design patent might be either flexible or rigid; whereas the plaque surface of the article patent is flexible. In the design patent the side of the bag might be one single solid piece shaped and colored as indicated. Under the article patent the side of the bag must be made up of a number of small units.

The design patent is based on eye appeal; whereas the article patent is based on the combination of the hollow plaques with transverse tapes running through the plaques and holding them together. Patent No. 2,256,645 relates to the construction. Design Patent No. 121,439 covers only the external appearance. This difference distinguishes the design from the later article patent, avoiding double patenting. Mathieu v. Mitchell Vance Co., 2 Cir., 7 F.2d 837; Bayley & Sons, Inc., v. Standart Art Glass Co., 2 Cir., 249 F. 478; Murdock v. Vaughan Novelty Mfg. Co., Inc., 51 U.S. P.Q. 214, affirmed 7 Cir., 131 F.2d 258. The case of H. C. White Co. v. Morton E. Converse & Son Co., 2 Cir., 20 F.2d 311, is not in point, since the article patent was for the same claimed invention as the design patent.

Motion denied.


Information from Bag Lady University. Photos from the collection of The Vintage Purse Gallery.

Location 1938:
Magid Handbags
30 East 33 St.
New York
A.I. Magid became Magid Handbags several years after the death of Anna Magid, the company's founder, in 1934.

More information about the Magid company from Walter Grutchfield's site, plus a photo of an old Magid building sign at http://14to42.net/33street.html

Magid circus animal purse made for DiPinna department stores.

Magid suede and leather shoulder bag.

Magid wicker box bag with velvet bows.

Magid raffia vegetable applique purse with original tag.

General Crafts Kit Purses

Crafty Kit Purses
By Wendy Dager

Rather than purchase the well-known, ready-made Enid Collins or Collins of Texas tote-style purses sold in the 1960s by high-end companies such as Neiman Marcus, do-it-yourself kits of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s were available to crafty housewives. With the kit, glue and a steady hand, these women were content to pay a mere $10 to create their own “practical handbag of luxurious fabric in 3 fashionable colors—BLACK—OLIVE—NATURAL, superbly finished with harmonizing trim, genuine mahogany bottom and personal zipper pocket.”

This enticing description is direct from “The New, Fabulous Jewel Tone Handbag” catalog, which was tucked inside each box, along with “exciting jewels, braids and sequins” to glue directly onto the bare make-by-number purse. While other companies—including Collins of Texas, which put out “Sophistikits”—sold these kit bags, the most popular were those from the Jewel Tone brand, a product of the General Crafts Corporation in Baltimore, Maryland.

The kit purses, with their linen-like exteriors, wooden bases and plastic interiors, ranged from elegant to sassy, and included popular hippie-esque designs such as the peacock, owl, butterfly, rooster and other animals, along with several floral patterns. Harder to find, but very desirable, are the Spanish dancer, poodle, seashells, carousel horse and “Travelogue,” with its Paris, London and Rome motif. Depending on where one shops, these purses generally range from $15 to $75 and sometimes come with their original box. Occasionally, one can find these purse kits unused, with the beading still packaged in plastic and the bare purses awaiting their d├ęcor.

With completed bags, common problems are missing beads, curled edges on trim, stains, and age-related stiffening of the purse, which can cause it to break away from the metal brads that fasten the handles. Purses should be taken to a tailor or shoe repair shop for new brads, but minor defects can be fixed with glue and replacement beads.

There are some who might say these purses are but an imitation of Enid Collins’s handiwork. But to those who are simply interested in having fun with their wardrobes, kit purses of the 1960s are just their bag.

Jerry Terrence The Original Carpet Bag

The Vintage Purse Gallery Interviews Jerry Terrence, Inventor of The Original Carpet Bag
By Wendy Dager

            When Jerry Terrence visited Grauman’s Chinese Theater in 1964, the marquee caught his eye, setting him on a path to an enduring legacy of fashion entrepreneurship.
The film was The Carpetbaggers, starring George Peppard, Alan Ladd and Carroll Baker, but it wasn’t its star-studded cast or engaging plotline that changed Terrence’s life. It was the title that gave Terrence the idea of taking it literally by creating bags made of actual carpeting.
            “I was working in the floor covering business that my father, who’d been a policeman, established in 1945,” said Terrence, a California native. “I went to college, then started in his business, and then got the idea to create the carpet bags because there was nothing quite like it in the marketplace.”

            Terrence, who had no knowledge of the fashion industry, contracted the sturdy hardware portion of the purses to a friend who was in the tool-and-die industry. The purses’ fabric—carpeting—was a material with which he was very familiar. Using his expertise, he had mills custom-create popular 1960s colors to match the preference of the mature women that were the main demographic for these bags at that time.
            Thus began the line of bold, unique, well-constructed purses bearing The Original Jerry Terrence Carpet Bag label, which women enthusiastically bought for a retail price of about $8.99 each.

            “We did a lot of innovative things in New York and across the country to get the attention of store buyers,” said Terrence.
            Enlisting a staff of true “Mad Men”-type advertising geniuses, one clever marketing technique was to send fortune cookies to fashion buyers for department stores such as The Broadway and Joske’s. The cookies had fortunes that read, “The Carpet Bag is Coming!”
            In 1965, Terrence’s company threw a press party for The Original Jerry Terrence Carpet Bag. He hired a woman to act as a hostess for the party, paying her $100. That hostess was an up-and-coming Joan Rivers.

            “There was also a promotion at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas,” said Terrence. “The owner of the Dunes bought bags for every one of his guests in 1964.”
            The carpet bags were so enormously popular that the factory in Southgate, California was operating 24 hours a day, with three crews of 12-15 employees working three shifts. Nearly one million Jerry Terrence bags were sold in the US alone during the four years the company was in operation.
            “My parents, wife at the time, friends and everybody else were saying ‘you are nuts!’” said Terrence. “I was very persistent because I felt there was a lot to this. I made some mistakes, but realized what they were, regrouped, and bam! It really hit. It was an important era in my life.”
            Today, these 1960s purses are a desirable collectible among fashionistas and vintage purse aficionados, with the demographic now a youthful 18-30 years of age.
            But those who love these unique bags no longer have to scour online auctions and vintage websites to find one, because The Original Jerry Terrence Carpet Bag was relaunched and it’s better and bolder than ever.
           “It’s very much an exciting business after all these years,” said Terrence. “It’s changed so dramatically. Now there are no more handbag reps—we put together a team that uses social media.”
            While the product is still made of carpeting, its construction has changed somewhat. Terrence is now offering crossbodies, clutches, A-frames, iPad cases and briefcases, all with carpets dyed in modern hues such as animal prints, camouflage and plaid. In addition, the company has received licensing from the Bettie Page estate to use the quintessential pinup’s name in a special line of handbags. Terrence is as enthusiastic about his products as he was nearly five decades ago, and is excited about the company’s new direction and staff of industry professionals.
            “It’s a different world out there,” said Terrence. “The whole world has changed and unless you change with it, you’re going to fall back.”
            --For more about The Original Jerry Terrence Carpet Bag newest products, or if you have a store and are interested in having the Terrence team schedule a special showing of vintage bags and memorabilia, visit the website: http://www.jtcarpetbag.com/. 

Paul B. Stone Very Originals

By Wendy Dager

          When it comes to mod, funky and fun accessories, Paul B. Stone “Very Originals” was once the go-to wholesale manufacturer for retailers, including Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Resort.
            First located in downtown Los Angeles’s garment district, the Paul B. Stone company moved to the San Fernando Valley in 1955, settling in an industrial area of Canoga Park, California.
            “The company started out doing novelty things like Christmas stockings and liquor bottle covers,” said Carl Stone, son of the company’s owners, Paul and Edith. “I believe one of the characters was a Kentucky colonel—to put on bourbon bottles—and there was one with a basset hound that had a funny inscription.”
            By the 1970s, Paul B. Stone was manufacturing fashion accessories including tote bags, golf sportswear, tennis racquet cases and sun hats. These vintage accessories are still occasionally available for purchase online through sites such as Etsy and eBay, and are made of long-lasting durable fabrics like heavy cotton, with bright colors and whimsical patterns reflective of the hippie era.

            Carl’s father Paul was a hardworking businessman, often going on the road to sell his wares, and attending trade shows in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Hawaii. Paul’s wife, Edith, was the artistic force behind Paul B. Stone “Very Originals.”
“My mom as a designer was in her element,” said Carl. “She was a creative person and she enjoyed doing the designs and overseeing the process of designing a line. She picked the fabrics and there were a lot of paisleys and things like that.”
            As a young man, Carl spent some time helping out with his parents’ company, doing odd jobs and deliveries. He recalls that the business started out fairly small, but grew to about 25 employees.
            “It had evolved without a real plan,” said Carl. “But, as the business expanded, he took over a lot of units. It was in a small industrial park and expanded to the point where all the sewing and finishing was done in one building and the cutting was done in another building.”

            Paul and Edith Stone sold the business in 1977 or 1978 to a company in Chicago, and the couple happily retired from the accessory manufacturing industry. Paul passed away in 2006 and Edith in 2009.
            Carl, a renowned composer of electro-acoustic music, says his parents were very encouraging about his studies and career, and never thought he would enter the family business. For Paul and Edith, the Paul B. Stone company was simply a livelihood, and it’s likely they had no idea that, forty years later, vintage clothing collectors and fashionistas would be so enthusiastic about their colorful, well-made purses and accessories.
            “It’s nice to know that there’s any sort of constituency for the Paul B. Stone line. I wasn’t aware that there were any in circulation,” said Carl. “I’m glad people are using them.”
              —Special thanks to Carl Stone for the interview. If readers of this website come across any brochures or other ephemera from the Paul B. Stone company, please email info@vintagepursegallery.com.