Monday, May 17, 2021

Collectable Names and Designs in Women's Handbags


Collectable Names and Designs in Women's Handbags is an interesting retrospective history of handbags/purses written by Tracy Martin. Due out 31st Aug 2021 from Pen & Sword, it's 240 pages and will be available in hardcover format. 

This is an interesting and broad historical look at containers used to carry necessities. It's mostly, but not exclusively, about handbags/purses because the author does spend a bit of time talking about chatelaines, sweet bags (medieval bags with herbs and pomanders to ward off bad smells), even prehistorical versions (Ötzi had some very fashion forward bags with him when he met his fate in the Alps). Most of the chapters are arranged roughly chronologically and include the modern era from the turn of the 20th century to the modern day. 

Many manufacturers are covered, and happily not *just* the big names, although they're there too of course. Some of the manufacturing history behind the production is also provided, and I found that more engaging than the bags themselves. I especially enjoyed reading the comprehensive entry on mesh and lucite bags. 

This is not a price guide. The emphasis is more on history and manufacturing. There are some tips and hints on focusing on a period and building/curating a collection. I also liked that the author concentrated more on lesser known areas of handbag collecting, such as the lucite bags. 

There are a fair number of photographs in the book, and most are in colour, but it's not a photography heavy coffee table type book. The iconic Hermés, Chanel, Gucci, and other heavy hitters are included (alongside some of the swoon-worthy prices they've fetched at auction), but it's really the quirky, ephemeral, and lesser known bags which kept me enthralled.

I do have a small collection of classic bags myself, mostly modern "popular" brands like Coach, Juicy Couture, and one Louis Vuitton bag, but this book has opened my eyes to a world of possibilities which are within my price range. I don't imagine I'll ever own a Hermes Birkin, but there are a load of drool-worthy pictures here to inspire readers' dreams. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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