Vintage purses are purses or handbags dating from the mid-19th century to the 1970s, according to Collectors Weekly. Although some become brittle or fragile with age, many are considered collectible, and some can be carried with contemporary outfits.
Early vintage purses from the late 19th century and early 1900s include crocheted and embroidered purses often covered with glass beads. All the purses from this era were made by hand. Purses from around the turn of the century include kid leather bags and purses made from crocodile and other reptile skins. Bags from this era also tended to have metal frames, clasps and handles.
Beginning in the 1920s, Egyptian-themed bags became popular, as did tapestry bags and purses made of plastic, tortoiseshell and Bakelite. Beaded purses also remained popular during this time, especially with Art Deco styling. Purses became more sedate during World War II due to limited resources. After the war, shoulder bags became popular, as did clutches. Very colorful bags were ubiquitous in the late 1940s and 1950s, including some made of satin and exotic animal skins. Novelty purses made of plastics such as Lucite or Bakelite were also popular.
Vintage bags in the 1960s featured abstract art and a hippie or mod sensibility. The 1970s and 1980s saw the rise of designer bags, many of which were made of vinyl or patent leather.