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Planning Retirement Online

Family Treasures - Edition 12
                         December 2004       

Miller's Price Guide 

Purchase Miller's Price Guide 2004/2005

Family Treasures 12

Jill Churchill, who writes on antiques and collectables for YOURS magazine, continues her series.  

Evening bags

It’s the party season, time to dress up and bring out the evening bag. But if you’ve got a vintage one in the cupboard, you might want to think again.
If it was a hand-me-down from grandma, it might be worth its weight in gold.


The rare, real thing

Check its age first. You might get an idea of this from its shape. If it’s a square purse-shape, wool-embroidered all over with scrolls and raised flowers made of layers of buttonhole stitch (“stump work”) it could date from the 1600s and be worth ?1,500-?2,000.

Or if it’s velvet, maybe embroidered with gold and silver threads, and shaped like a deep pocket, it could be a ‘gaming purse’ from the time of Charles II: about ?400.
Then there are Regency bags, often shaped like today’s purses and made to hang from the wrist on a fine cord. Beaded or worked in fine needlepoint or in woven tapestry, they’re about ?150, going up to ?250 if there’s a silver frame.

Small but perfect

Amazon book - Collectables price guide 2005A much more likely find is a genuine Victorian bag, either delicately beaded or made of steel mesh rather like fine chain mail. A 6-inch (15cm) steel silvery mesh could be ?40.
Some avid collectors of beaded bags have been known to buy them to hang on their walls (at ?10-?80 a bag, cheaper than many pictures) and competition really hots up for the most intricate designs, especially those with extra ‘gems’ sewn on, or with long fringes or tassels.
A little (4 x 5in) tasselled bag from the 1920s was a bargain at Bonham’s about a year ago for ?50. A peacock-patterned bag dated around 1915 and made in India, could be ?100; Art Nouveau items, beaded and pearled in the recognisable swirly spider-web design might reach a bid of ?300.

Tips for starting your own collection

  • If the beads are tiny and the bag has a metal frame it’s probably

  • An unusual lining and a plastic frame imitating tortoiseshell or ivory usually puts the date between 1920-35.

  • As always, condition is important: check that beading and linings are intact, that clasps work and that the frame is in a good state of repair. (Some collectors are looking for frames alone).

  • And don’t look down your nose at a bag made of hard plastic: it might be Perspex or Lucite, typical of the 1950s and now something of a cult area. If you spot something in a boot market in an uncracked casket shape, you could bag yourself a bargain - worth about ?250 in the world of collectors.


Previous editions:

Family Treasures - 1

Family Treasures - 2

Family Treasures - 3

Family Treasures - 4

Family Treasures - 5

Family Treasures - 6

Family Treasures - 7

Family Treasures - 8

Family Treasures - 9

Family Treasures - 10

Family Treasures - 11

Family Treasures - 12

For subsequent editions - see the laterlife interest index



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