My vintage evening bag and beaded purse collection brings me such pleasure. These tiny handbags are decorated with sequins and pearls, tiny embroidered tapestries, made from metal mesh, or brightly beaded. Several in my collection are not in the best condition but I felt they needed rescuing and that I was capable of doing the job of restoring them to their former glory. I thought I’d share three of my favorite unfortunate ones with you.
It has always been my objective to carefully restore these tiny works of art to a more sound and useful condition. It’s extremely depressing to me when something old and well loved is discarded because it no longer can be used without damaging it further. All three of the purses shown in this blog are in relatively sound condition as to the body of the purse and/or beading but not in any way considered usable condition. For some reason each of these unfortunate purses spoke to my vintage heart and I ended up purchasing them to rescue them from utter annihilation.
The center purse in the above picture designed with a drawstring top, sack-type bag with a rounded bottom currently holds the title to the worst purse in my collection. The beading on this one is still quite lovely but, the top is a nightmare. The drawstring opening and lining of the purse needs the most attention. It measures about 8 inches long and 4 inches wide. The beading is in rather good condition considering the rest of the purse’s condition. The tassel on the bottom center is original and still connected well. The drawstring portion will have to be completely replaced. I plan to build a lining from black satin or silk and attach it to the opening with tiny hand stitching; something best done in bright sunshine so as to not drop any stitches. The new drawstring will be a black silk twisted cording. Once repaired, this classy looking black, blue and gold beaded purse may just live to see another dance.
The larger rectangular purse reminds me of a rather medieval design. I always look at this and think of the banners with large center medallions, hanging around the halls in an old movie of medieval times like the Three Musketeers. Completely woven of metallic beads this purse ‘skin’ is quite heavy. The closure and lining are completely missing but all of the beading on the purse is sound. I wonder if the original owner took it apart to make another purse using the metal closure when this particular beaded style fell out of vogue? I am still looking for another closure of the appropriate size and as soon as it is found, this purse will have a new life and possibly a new owner.
The last purse in this post is a sweet thing with really poor beading. I love the delicate pink roses worked into the beaded design. The clasp is sound though worn and the lining is intact. The chain is tarnished but still serviceable. I do wonder if it had some type of fringe on the bottom. This is an evening purse that was well used, well loved but not well cared for or possibly over used. The main problem is the beading. So many beads are missing it makes me wonder if this purse fell on the floor during a dance and was stomped on repeatedly. You know the Charleston dance was pretty wild and freeing; maybe that was it’s demise. I do not know if it is possible to replace the seed beads on the outside of this once attractive purse but, I keep it in my collection to remind me of how poorly some people take care of their things and in turn how poorly these same people take care of future antiques.
When I think about how old most of these evening purses are, I am reminded of how extremely delicate their condition could be overall and truly amazed that they survive at all. Most of these beaded evening bags are 80 years old or more and yet most in my collection are still functional and quite stylish. It is my hope that these 3 charmingly unfortunate purses can someday be repaired well enough to become a much appreciated accessory to someone’s wardrobe and lovingly carried again for a special occasion.