Vintage Purses – A New Love Affair

Lazies, I think the vintage bug has bitten me. I’ve always loved vintage clothes. Most notably, the incredible form-flattering details and fantasy-feel of the clothes’ personalities. And I’ve admired the cute, smart vintage purse designs from afar.

Earlier this year, my dear Aunt Junie passed away and I inherited two of her delightful purses. They each had a label inside and I was able to do a little research about the designers online. This cool chenille covered clasp purse is by Lewis or Miss Lewis.

My Aunt Junie was such a love. I identified with her in a number of ways throughout my life. She was an avid and free-for-all kind of crafter. Junie tried everything and was good at it. Her basement was packed with supplies to make anything and everything. Amazingly, we never crafted together. I wish we had. Our birthdays are two days apart, no children, love dogs, and we married strong, quiet men. Actually, our hubby’s may be chatty – with us around, who can tell.

Lewis Snap Closure Bag
Insides features a zip and patch pocket. Look at the cool frame, with the side hinges free from the bag. Look at the gold piping below the zipper, along the top edge of the patch pocket. Nice detail.

Love the shape of this bag and the cool clasp.

I found a few other cool Lewis purses online. Enjoy the vintage eye-candy!
Beige Patent Kelly
Grosgrain Tapestry
Beige Patent Leather

I didn’t find any info about my particular purse. However, I discovered that at least some Lewis (or Miss Lewis) purses came equipped with a mirror and comb. From the pics I’ve found online, it looks like the mirror slipped inside the gold-piped patch pocket. And the comb had its own pocket, too. Must be that short pocket at the bottom of the piped pocket.

I haven’t been able to pin down a date for when this bag was produced. The Lewis purses I found online date from 1940-60’s.

I’ll share my other Aunt Junie purse treasure soon.

I think I just started collecting.


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23 Responses to “Vintage Purses – A New Love Affair”

  1. Denise — August 15, 2011 @ 8:14 am

    Joan: What a delightful collection. Thanks for the memory trip – loved it all – Hmmmm, maybe a retro pattern to come soon?
    Denise, Ocala,,FL

  2. Sharon — August 15, 2011 @ 8:22 am

    Love this type of purse. Remember them well. How about a pattern for one.

  3. Laura — August 15, 2011 @ 8:39 am

    I’ve always said if I can’t afford a Channel bag, then I want to make my own….yes love the detail of your bag and the details inside….matter of fact thinking of what bag I want to make for fall….what about you?

  4. Cindy Norton — August 15, 2011 @ 10:01 am

    I really enjoyed this article remembering some of the purses my mother had. Guess I will have to go into the planning stage and come up with a vintage purse for myself. Oh it sounds like fun.

  5. Kelly Jackson — August 15, 2011 @ 10:28 am

    I love the way the ladies used to carry those purses too….over their arm with their arm bent…reminds me of Jackie O. Now Mrs. Queen of Lazy….we need some fun hat patterns to go with our bags….that would be a ball and an old/newish trend could be resurected. I’ll wear one 🙂


  6. Geraldene Woods — August 15, 2011 @ 10:28 am

    Golly how lucky are you. Wishing for one from my Aunty June. 🙂

  7. Roxanna — August 15, 2011 @ 10:32 am

    My 99-year old grandmother recently passed away and left behind a large(to me) handbag collection. They are treasures! You made me realize their value with this little lazy blog. Perhaps they can be part of my decor in the quilting space I have carved out of my living room. I wonder if you can add to your collection by visiting thrift stores and yard sales?
    Lovely heirloom piece for you to cherish and perhaps use on a VERY special occasion!

  8. Kathleen Graas — August 15, 2011 @ 10:49 am

    GREAT bag, you are lucky to inherit it.

    CROWN LEWIS Handbags were made by Lewis Purses, Inc. of Los Angeles and New York City (on Madison Avenue), during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. CROWN LEWIS Purses were known for their high quality, details, and design.

  9. Laura Wilson — August 15, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

    What a special way to remember your aunt!

  10. lynn s — August 15, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

    I remember this style of purse, actually they were called handbags,well. When we went to the “city”, we got our good Sunday clothes on with white gloves and this purse was carried over the forearm, as Kelly said, with arm bent. Sure brought back some memories.

  11. Judy Haring — August 16, 2011 @ 11:53 am

    Re: “Her basement was packed with supplies to make anything and everything. Amazingly, we never crafted together.”
    Awww… How sad! Mine ,too, is packed with supplies but my Gkids are enjoying it all with me. And what we don’t get done together, will become their treasures to come.

  12. Sherry Bear — August 16, 2011 @ 9:52 pm

    Your pictures brought back memories of my Grandma.
    What a lady she was!

  13. carroll campbell — August 16, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

    I took care of an older lady in her home for 5yr. Ever time she went somewhere I had to dig out the shoes and purse that matched. She always looked like a proper lady. The thing to do at that time was to dress up. Your story made me think of that lady. I loved her. Thinks for the reminder.

  14. Jan Milton — August 18, 2011 @ 10:30 am

    The purse is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing.

  15. Brenda — August 30, 2011 @ 11:21 am

    What a wonderful walk down memory lane. Thanks!

  16. Diane Graham — September 6, 2011 @ 10:02 am

    This purse is awesome. How I love the older style purses. This one would make a true Southern Lady extremely happy. Gorgeous purse, dainty hat and don’t forget the gloves. How attractive the Ladies used to look with their matching ensembles. Thank you for bringing back such fond memories.

  17. Susie Stiving — September 6, 2011 @ 10:48 am

    Hi Joanie, I appreciated your reflection about your Aunt Joanie and her appreciation of fine purses. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to new inspired creations from you always. Blessings

  18. Marian Tworek — September 6, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

    I don’t think the grosgrain tapestry one will ever be out of style—

  19. kay mc — September 6, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

    if you are in your 40s or older we probbley all have some memories if the good old days when ladys were ladys and you never went any where with out being compleatly put to gethter from top to bottom. And every thing matched. oh how I miss seeing that look. wonder if we can bring it back?

  20. Joannie — September 7, 2011 @ 11:14 am

    Wow! I came across a purse my mother owned, also named Joan, and I inherited and am passing it on to my niece also has a passion for fashion & anything vintage, I googled in hopes of finding out more about my ‘Lewis’ purse, it’s goldish/tan with a beautiful brocade design down the center ; it’s very similar in style to your picture, I’m happy to say that mine does include the comb and mirror (still wrapped in a paper type envelope with one side opened to slip the mirror out). The comb is clear with gold speckles throughout. I wasn’t sure of the material of the purse, never would have thought it was chenile, but it most likely is, AT my age (60) it’s time to pass on these things to others that have a love and appreciation for these types of things! Thank you for sharing yours!!

  21. Mary — January 31, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

    Oh, this one is very cute!

  22. Kelly Stubbs — November 14, 2014 @ 1:13 pm

    Hi Joan! I very much enjoyed reading your post and seeing the pics of your Lewis bag, it is very pretty! Yesterday I was in an antique shop and saw this darling black bag. As I inspected closer it was in perfect condition, made of cashmere and wool. Inside I found it to be labeled “LEWIS” w/a pretty crown above it and thought “this could be something special”. Whether it was special or not, I loved the bags classy, ladylike style and for the $18 on the price tag, it was a no brainer! This morning I checked into this Lewis brand and found that it is a pretty special piece. Wish I could post a picture to share it with you and the others as I have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. I too wish things were as they were once, when a lady was a lady and people dressed to go places.


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