Any lover of great bags will be aware of the provenance surrounding the handbag. It was first used by men to hold items of utility or value. According to Reader’s Digest, “The world's oldest purse was discovered in Germany in 2012. It was studded with dog teeth and dated from between 2,500 and 2,200 B.C.” But since then, purses and handbags have become more popular as a female fashion statement. And vintage bags are a great way to tap into that history or acquire popular styles which are no longer in production.
What qualifies as vintage?
The first modern-day purse is largely credited to Samual Parkinson in 1841. But, the bag doesn’t need to be quite that old to count as a vintage handbag. Vogue reports, “According to Graham Wetzbarger, Head of Authenticity at TheRealReal, the term is open to interpretation. “This is a debate that will probably never have a consensus,” he says. “Vintage used to be considered something that is over 30 years old. In the 20th century, fashion was slower, and the trend cycle was about 30 years from when something fell out of style until it was hip again. So the term vintage was used to differentiate between a contemporary piece and its predecessor. Today we use the term in the same way – but in today’s world, trends seem to cycle every ten to fifteen years.” But truly historical bags are even considered legitimate museum pieces.
The V&A describes the allure in their own words: “From rucksacks to despatch boxes, Birkin bags to Louis Vuitton luggage, you can explore handbag design over the centuries including a notable range of bags we have in our own collection at Butler & Wilson; Waldybags:
Notable bags - Waldybags
This example is of the desirable English luxury silk and satin evening bag from post-second world war design and beloved by the Royal Family. First developed by Florence Campbell and sold by H. Wald & Co., the bag uses a unique technique where tiny glass beads are applied to wet paint for a beautiful effect on the flower motif. They are called 'Waldybags' and flew in the face of shoulder bags the company had designed to carry the compulsory gas masks from the wartime era. That floral motif is a signature of the Waldybag, but there are other patterns and styles available with a more modern and corporate feel. These include leather and faux leather options that are popular with collectors.
Shopping history with Butler & Wilson
Vintage bags are extremely desirable collector’s items. They hold their value as well as many other popular investment staples like art. At Butler & Wilson, we have a selection of stunning vintage British bags -including Waldybags- for the handbag collector. We also possess novelty American vintage bags which are highly sought-after on the continent. And finally, and perhaps most notably, our curated collection also contains a range of French 1940s & 1950s-era pieces collected by Simon Wilson himself on his travels. Our team is on hand to help you understand the provenance of each bag, make suggestions for your collection or help you to learn more about why vintage handbags are so popular with collectors.
To shop history with our vintage bags, simply visit our Fulham Road location Monday to Saturday 10 am to 6 pm.
Thank you, this is very interesting. Who doesn’t like a beautiful handbag?