Vintage Handbags: The Most Desirable Vintage Brands

A newly minted status handbag says “I am cool.” A vintage handbag says “I have taste.” A number of stars own vintage handbags–both for their distinctive looks and their high quality. And while some designs, such as the famed Kelly bag, can set you back thousands of dollars at auction, many excellent ones can be found for less than $50 at online auctions or secondhand stores. Here’s how to get a handle on which are worth the investment.To Learn more about Luxurytastic you can click here. You get product reviews and discount codes as well.

Wilardy

The famous word of career advice given to Benjamin Braddock in 1967’s The Graduate–“plastics”–was heeded by handbag designer Will Hardy two decades earlier. Hardy saw the possibilities of plastic from the start, and he used it to create gorgeous works of functional art, awash with glitter and embedded with real leaves and butterflies. Each bag was produced by hand, which necessarily kept retail prices high–from about $20 to $75 in the fifties. At the end of the decade, when cheaper, mass-produced versions flooded the market, the demand for Wilardy’s quality dried up, and the company went out of business. Of Wilardy’s Lucite bags, red is the rarest color and thus the most desirable–one recently sold for $1,800. A good example in clear Lucite can sell for a mere $200.

Minaudieres

From the French for “coquettish air,” the term minaudiere was rumored to have been coined by jeweler Alfred Van Cleef: His partner, Charles Arpels, designed the first Minaudiere after he observed Florence Gould, the wealthy wife of a railroad baron, using a Lucky Strike tin as a small clutch. Van Cleef  amp; Arpels went on to create thousands of ingenious Minaudieres–hard-cased evening clutches with interior compartments to hold the essentials a woman needed. Originally handcrafted in precious metals such as gold or silver and often covered with jewels, the bags have since been made of everything from Bakelite to ivory. Prices range from less than $100 at flea markets to $400 or so for a classic example, to $1,500 or more for jeweled styles from famed Minaudiere-maker Judith Leiber.

Whiting  amp; Davis

Founded in 1876, the Whiting  amp; Davis company is one of the country’s oldest handbag manufacturers, turning out everything from Victorian vanity bags to dazzling eighties nightclub purses. The firm’s metier? Mesh, in materials as humble as pot metal and as grand as gold. The bags were hand-crafted, often by women working out of their homes, until A.C. Pratt invented a mesh-making machine in 1909 that revolutionized production–and undoubtedly ensured the company’s survival.

In addition to creating purses, Whiting  amp; Davis manufactured mesh for industrial gloves, aprons and diving suits as well as for such adornments as cuffs, necklaces and other accessories. The company was even commissioned to weave its metal for use by other designers, including Elsa Peretti, who has used it in her famous jewelry line for Tiffany  amp; Co. Still, the company is best known for its beautiful handbags. The real rage for dainty mesh bags occurred at the turn of the century and lasted well into the flapper era, and it is from that period that some of the most coveted Whiting  amp; Davis bags date. Rare pieces from those decades range from $550 to $800; more recent styles can still be found for less than $200.