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

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