Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Flowers and Birds as Inspiration in Beaded Purse Collection

Those who know me know I have a fairly extensive collection of vintage and antique mesh and beaded purses, mostly dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries. I am a member of the Antique Purse Collectors Society, some of whose members' collections rival those of world museums. There are members within the society whose knowledge of purses through history have led to reference books highly regarded on the subject among collectors. We even have members who are still preserving the art of hand beading and restoring these gems today.

Capturing the essence of spring in the designs with flowers and birds, I thought I'd share a small portion of my beaded purse collection - just one type of the many purses I've collected - which reflects the skill of these little works of art. Grab a drink and get ready for lots of photos. I hope you enjoy!
Many of my purses have come directly from long-time collectors' collections (noted within this post, from the collection of), including those pictured immediately above (tulips, Czechoslovakian), and below, both from the Evelyn Haertig collection. The handbag below is featured on page 74 of her reference book titled, "Restoring and Collecting Antique Beaded Bags".
Other handbags in my collection have been scoured from online websites over the years. As is true with any collection, trying to buy nearly perfect examples is key. I am showing some of my best examples of florals and birds, but I have plenty of lesser examples from my early years of collecting.

The example pictured below (roses) has a chatelaine clip (worn on the waist), and is framed in sterling with British hallmarks, monogrammed 'Anne Vaughan Heins'. It has a push button opening. Although the bag is in very good condition, it has no beaded fringe (but probably did at one time). Replacing fringe is an acceptable restoration in the eyes of handbag experts if done professionally.
Glass beads used in antique purses were primarily manufactured in Venice, Italy, and in Czechoslovakia. Value of purses is dependent on size of beads used (smaller = generally more valuable). Most examples are either hand knitted. woven, embroidered, netted or crocheted, worked in a horizontal and vertical looping technique. Hand knitted beaded purses were mostly made in Germany, historically speaking. The purse below depicts chrysanthemums, and one notable flaw is a few missed counts in bead colors used on the yellow mum (see approximately halfway through the flower and the horizontal line).
The example below has various florals including iris, forsythia, carnations, roses and morning glories, with a twisted loop fringe. Fringe styles can often denote German makers' origin and can be determined by the trained eye (I am not that trained!). The styles of fringe include ball and tassel, plain or twisted loop, plain stick or stick and loop, basket weave, or some combination of these mentioned.
Pictured below is a primarily white glass beaded bag with roses and violets, and a unique, Italian micro mosaic frame. Desirability among collectors can be increased significantly not only by smaller beads in the bag's body, but also when frames used to attach the bags are unusual or jeweled. Jewels may be semi-precious or precious. Precious metal frames, and marked frames by noted jewelers such as Cartier or Tiffany are prized. Other frames can be made of brass, tortoise shell, bakelite or celluloid.
The bag below was machine made (roses and peacock with a celluloid, gate mouth frame), and has a basket weave fringe. The lining is cotton, but many finer purses are typically lined in silk. The bag is in good condition and has a nice, intricate fringe, but would be of lesser value than a handmade bag of similar design.
The example below is knitted columbines - a lesser common floral theme - with a twisted loop fringe, from the collection of Mary Littiken.
Elaborate tassels are part of the appeal on the reticule (drawstring) with roses bag below. It was made in France.
Many French-made beaded bags were made from cut steel beads. The handbag pictured below is one such example, with a Cupid center medallion and rose bordered design, from the collection of Shara Stewart. The fringe is stick and ball, with a push button opening. Steel beaded bags can be determined by testing with a magnet. If the magnet does not stick, the bag is likely made of aluminum beads - another, more modern bead.
The handbag below has a predominantly brown background glass bead, with roses and other florals, a jeweled frame, kisslock opening. From the collection of Lori Blaser.
The French-made handbag below has a beautifully draped knitted body with floral spray, and a coral and gilt frame, push button opening.
The frame on the bag below is 800 sterling silver, with a cherub harvest design frame and floral baskets for the chain, predominantly roses in the body (beaded tassel fringe on ball are missing).
Another example below shows beaded florals and fruits on enameled and jeweled frame, kisslock opening, and simple stick fringe, from the collection of Mary Nunn.
The bag below, while missing its fringe, is desirable because it is a Tiffany sterling frame. The lilacs are a less common floral design found, also increasing the desirability for collectors.
Some floral beaded purses take on more complex designs, such as the scenic beaded purse with garden, gates, staircase, lake and trees with jeweled frame, push button opening shown below. From the collection of Shara Stewart. The scene is repeated on the reverse, as are all of the bags in this post, unless otherwise noted.
Also from the collection of Shara Stewart (and probably a top favorite in my personal collection) is a rare example of a two-sided, beaded scenic garden and lake. Side one depicts people in boat on the lake, with jeweled fob closure.
Side 2 depicts lake with sailboats, and floral path to the water.
Detail of the jeweled fob.
Other beaded handbags appeal to me for the combination of florals with birds, as in the example of floral and macaw bird reticule below.
The beaded bluebirds and cherry blossoms, while a favorite for its design, is another example of a machine made handbag.
Lastly, another example of beaded bluebirds on branches with florals. The intricacy of the design appeals to me for its realistic capture of the birds and flowers. From the collection of Kathy Gunderson.
My first advice for any would-be purse collector would be to seek out what you love. These handbags all appealed to me for my love of gardening - florals and birds. I have several categories of the types of purses I love and have collected, most of which may be seen on my Pinterest account on separate boards by their category (such as antique beaded purses, mesh purses, children's purses, etc.).

I hope you enjoyed this portion of my purse collection, and that it has provided a bit of spring gardening inspiration for you. If you have any questions concerning this or the Antique Purse Collectors Society, I will be happy to answer or refer you to one who can if I do not have the answer. If you do not want to comment below, feel free to email me: wv.panoply@gmail.com. As always, thank you for your readership!

49 comments:

  1. Good Morning Rita. The purses I could see look so pretty. Some of your pictures are not showing up. Not sure if that is on your end or mine! Have a good day.
    xoxo
    Kris

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    1. Same here, but only on my phone, not my desktop! Not sure of the issue, working on it. The photos are mine, so that shouldn't be the issue. Thanks for your feedback!

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  2. I’m having the same issue Rita, although its more like 75% of photos are just blank square spaces.

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  3. Rita, I see you are aware of the photos not loading. I will be checking back.

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing your passion for this art. I am enjoying so much. Now, I have a fond love for beaded handbags. Thank you again. W in KCMO>

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    1. Thank YOU for visiting and leaving that nice comment. If you're ever interested in starting your own collection, I can help you. ;)

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  5. You know I love each and every one!

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  6. Amazing post. What beautiful works of art!!

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  7. I have 1 beaded purse that I purchased about 30yrs ago. It is brown with yellow, red, blue, and green design not flowers. Frame looks tortoiseshell, not sure. Yours are beautiful!! They are pricey or I would have more.

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  8. Quite a few beauties! I have never seen such detail! I have a small collection of beaded purses that I am preparing to sell. Let me know if you want to see photos.

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    1. Thank you, Rose. My collection is still mostly packed, and I still need to make a project of combing my own and divesting some. Thank you, though!

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  9. Be still my foolish heart! Enjoyed seeing these so much--I have never seen such detail in beaded purses. My new favorite term is "Kisslock" for that closure I never knew the name of! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Kathy, thank you. One of the things we members of the APCS love doing is sharing our knowledge through our collections!

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  10. Rita, I knew you collected beaded purses, but I had no idea of your vast and stunning collection. Each bag is gorgeous and I so enjoyed your commentary on each one. It would be extremely difficult for me to pick a favorite, but the two-sided scenic garden and lake is exquisite! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and your fabulous collection!

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  11. Oh, Rita - what absolute gorgeousness. I love them all but I agree with Pam. The two-sided scenic garden and lake is truly lovely. My next favorite is the one with the bluebirds. Your collection is stunning. Happy day to you, Rita.

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  12. Rita, these truly are heirloom museum pieces. I hope you have a place you can display at least a few of them. I'm truly amazed!! Beautiful!!

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  13. So happy your photos are here, earlier only three loaded. For whatever reason you weren't the only blog doing this early this morning. I love beaded bags Rita and always look at them when out antiquing. I've had one, it was beaded with small beads and a matching hat. I gave it to a niece for a music video. Your collection is stunning. You are a true collector of these little jewels...........LOVE this post!

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  14. Wow Rita, these are all stunning! Imagine the hours put into these creations! It seems like you have a museum collection yourself! You said this is only a small part of your collection, how many do you actually have? Where do you keep them? Do you ever use them? Fascinating...
    Jenna

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  15. So glad these were able to post! What an amazing collection, and this is only part?!!! Wow! I just adore the silver cherub frame. I agree with Jenna - where do you keep them, do you display them, and how many do you have total? Just wonderful, and thanks for following up on my missing pictures too - what craziness.

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  16. Holy cow those are pretty! The one with the Chatelaine (spelling?) clip is so trend starting. I am imaging all kinds of gorgeous outfits with that one! or the Shara Stewart, OMG! You hit the nail on the head with those. Definitely gardening, plus I am feeling a very Monet esque vibe to those. Just beautiful.

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  17. Rita, it's a treat to see your collection in detail like this. I'm curious about the same things Jenna and Jackie mentioned. How do you display them to enjoy your fabulous collection. I certainly hope you carry a bag to special events. They are each one gorgeous!

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  18. Wow. Just wow! The bead work is stunningly beautiful, and the frames are just as majestic. I particularly appreciate the coral and gilt frame and the silver French frame. You have done yourself proud with your beautiful curated collection. Thanks for inviting us for a peek. CherryKay

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  19. Oh, Rita, these are marvelous! What beautiful artistry went into these bags! They were undoubtedly cherished by their original owners. I'm glad they've found a second life with you, and that you shared them with us. If I were to collect something like these, they would also have birds and flowers.

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    1. Thank you, Sandra! There are so many beautiful examples out there, many in the category of the "one that got away", but I am happy with my curated collection.

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  20. Your collection is lovely. Each purse is prettier than the next.

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  21. Rita, your beaded purse collection is gorgeous. How special to have these. The beadwork is amazing. Thanks for sharing these beauties.

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  22. Rita, your collection is absolutely gorgeous! I pinned a few--thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!

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  23. Wow you have a lovely collection! You have my interest!

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  24. Oh Rita, your beaded bags take my breath away. What a fabulous collection. These are true artistry. I can't imagine working those tiny beads. What eyes they must have. And the scenes. There were more than a few that stole my heart. I love your collection and your knowledge, too.

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  25. Rita,
    What an amazing collection!
    I look, and think of all the handiwork that went into creating these purses!
    Such talent!
    Thank you for sharing!
    Pat

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    1. Thank you, Pat! The makers really were home artisans of their time! If you read this, would you please email me your email address? Thank you!

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  26. I love all of these purses. I used to have some years ago. Thank you for sharing

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  27. Wow, what an impressive collection! My favorite is the garden and lake purse!

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  28. What an awesome collection, these are just amazing in design and workmanship!!

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  29. Imagine the stories of the creators of each purse. What a beautiful collection Rita.
    Joy

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  30. What an exquisite collection! I am delighted to feature you at TFT!
    https://followtheyellowbrickhome.com/celebrating-arrival-spring-tft/

    Take care!

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  31. Your purses are so gorgeous. We were traveling when this was published and I missed it. I was trying to clean up my email and after 100 emails found this one.
    Each bag is stunning. You are quite knowledgeable and the history is so interesting.
    Lovely and enjoyable post.

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  32. What a beautiful collection. I love them all. It is hard to pic a favourite.
    I'd have to choose the one with sailboat.
    I have a small collection of evening purses. Nothing as elegant as yours. I will blog them one day.
    I must check out Pinterest for your others. Thanks for sharing your delightful collection.

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  33. What a stunning collection of antique purses! I really enjoyed admiring all of them.

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    1. Thank you, Paula! I started this many years ago, and now have too many to admit!

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  34. These are just beautiful, Rita!! I did share this post at Share Your Style #249 this week and it is feature #1... I just saved many of your purses and those of your friends to a number of my Pinterest boards. They are exquisite! Happy to share your post on Facebook for you, too. <3

    A little beauty in stressful times...
    Virtual hugs and prayers for you and your family,
    Barb :)

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    1. Thank you, Barb! As collectors, my friends and I love sharing.

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  35. Oh Rita I loved every word and photo of this post! What absolutely gorgeous purses. Truly such works of art.

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