Merle Norman

In the 1970s, Merle Norman Cosmetics had a series of two plastic box purses that contained cosmetics. The idea was that you could use them as a handbag after the makeup was gone. Because they were similar to the Lucite bags of the 1950s, these are often labeled older than they are. Even the 1977 ad below acknowledged their similarity to mid-century bags!



The Orlando Sentinel, November 30, 1975


The Town Talk (Alexandria, LA) November 16, 1976

The San Bernardino County Sun, October 6, 1977

Plastic Coil "Telephone" Cord Purses


Plastic coil purses are often dated to the 1940s. While it's true that's when they began, we've found newspaper advertisements that bring them all the way into 1960! Also, "telephone cord," which is what many people call them today, is an anachronistic misnomer. It was likely created by someone from a later time who thought that's what the purses look like, so that's what they should be called!

Akron Beacon Journal, April 14, 1957






Arizona Republic, April 20, 1945

Battle Creek Enquirer, May 7, 1959

Pensacola News Journal, June 3, 1960
The Daily Times, June 4, 1952

The Indianapolis News, Feb. 25, 1966

The Indianapolis News, May 16, 1956
The Minneapolis Star, March 23, 1954
Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, November 8, 1946

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The Petaluma Courier, May 5, 1954

Faye Mell


Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN), May 12, 1956 


 The Odessa American (Odessa, TX), Nov. 27, 1960





Los Angeles Times, Feb. 2, 2010