Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn on the handbags and the gladrags..
It’s a happy time for us in the Blackburn family. We’ve got a wedding in the family and for weeks my wife and daughter have talked about nothing else other than their outfits, their shoes and handbags. The wedding bug hasn’t just been confined to the ladies, though. Only last week I was getting my outfit sorted out, to much fussing and faffing from my wife! The ladies (along with their friends and other family members) really have been getting into the swing of it; writing lists, collecting ideas, reading magazines and
taking the role of bridesmaid and guests very seriously indeed.
You wouldn’t think that an antiques centre would be the sort of place that ladies would like to shop for a wedding outfit, but would you believe that there are some serious collectors out there who specialise in collecting ladies accessories like gloves, handbags, shoes, hat pins and scarfs.
Almost every woman in England must own at least one handbag! From the Middle Ages, drawstring purses containing vital effects were hung from belts, but the handbag, as we know it, really only appeared in the late 18th century. The earliest historically certifiable handbags were little sacks known as "pockets" which contained pomanders (scented oranges), flint and money and were carried by both ladies and gentlemen. These were hung by thongs from the back of the girdle and were often cut from behind by thieves who knew how to take advantage of a friendly pat on the back; hence the term “cut purse”.
The most widely collected bags are those from the 20th century. Edwardian beaded bags (think Mrs Simpson) are very collectable and could be worth £60 or more. Fifties bags also have a following.
The value depends on age and condition of both the outer and inner. Do check inside for damage. Interesting shapes or materials like a 1950s, perspex star-shaped bag are worth more than standard examples. An unusual clasp or secret compartment will also add value.
It is quite easy to find bags in very good condition like this at antique fairs and, for the average price of £10, the perfect way to spruce up that special outfit!
These matching shoes and handbag would be the perfect accessory for any wedding outfit. They are only £10 each. More on ladies accessories next week.