Magda Makkay Handbag, Early 1960s

I had been looking for a handbag that could be used for evening, but I didn’t want something really glitzy.  I simply do not live in a glitzy place!  I ran across this pretty bag back in the late spring.  It was signed on the inside, but I’m not very knowledgeable about vintage handbag brands, so I asked the experts at the Vintage Fashion Guild, and promptly got the answer.

It reads “Magda Makkay.”  The symbol above the name consists of two little hearts.

Today I finally got around to searching for some information on this brand.  It turns out that Magda Makkay was an actual person.  She was born in Hungary where she learned  the pocketbook craft.  In 1956 she was able to flee from revolution-torn Hungary and ended up in New York.   There she got a job at Koret handbags as a designer.

Makkay was still making handbags in 1982, the last reference I can find of her.  After a stint of making cloth and cheaper handbags for Charisma, in 1982 she was making  organizer bags that retailed for $80 (about $180 today).

Makkay worked by actually making a prototype of each of her designs.  This sample was then sent to the factory where it was reproduced.  According to Makkay, a handbag on paper did not always work the way the designer planned.  It was only through making an actual bag that a designer could be sure that the design worked.

My bag seems to be from the early to mid 1960s.  It has a fine interior of satin with a matching mirror with its own special slot.  Makkay must have been really fond of gold chain handles because many of the examples of her work that I’ve found online have them.

There are two pockets on the top that are part of the overall design.  The front panel lifts up to reach the interior, and it closes with a snap closure.

There is not a lot on information on the web about Makkay,  but within ten minutes of searching I found a newspaper article from 1977, and then one from 1982.  So getting the information was a relatively easy task that any person familiar with a Google could accomplish.  Considering that I also found three Magda Makkay handbags for sale that were labeled 1940s, I’ve got to wonder why a seller would not take the time to do a simple search for the brand name.   It make me want to stop and just say thank you to all the great sellers who do their homework.

Thank You.


Filed under Collecting

21 responses to “Magda Makkay Handbag, Early 1960s

  1. Danette

    That’s why we appreciate you!!


  2. Julie Eilber

    Pretty bag. I understand the desire to make a prototype–so much of a bag is how it looks and how it opens! Even in this day and age it’s so nice to go out with a little evening bag.


    • Right! If you have ever had a bag that just does not quite function correctly, the you’ll know the value of making a test model. I had a box bag ones that had to be turned on its side when opened or else everything would fall out.


  3. I enjoyed reading your article. The bag is very beautiful and classy looking. Your story makes me and appreciate and treasure these designers bags. It shows that when we know a little bit about a designer we are able to appreciate the bags even more.


  4. I do like this handbag very much indeed.
    Well made vintage bags are a real treat. I find that the modern “trophy” handbags which cost a fortune are all very much of a muchness and tend to look the same.


  5. It looks lovely. I am guessing it’s leather. If so I bet it feels fab and a bit weirdly has a that expensive aroma!!!


  6. Love the contrast of the plain black against the ornate gold handles. Thanks for sharing your information. It’s a new name to me.


  7. Teresa

    Such a gorgeous and timeless handbag. Thanks so much for sharing the story behind the name. It’s always great to learn about new-to-me designers in the vintage world!


  8. What a lovely bag, Lizzie! Classic and simple, yet very distinctive with that gold fringe.

    It really is amazing how much you can learn through a simple Google search.


  9. Not only is that a perfect purse, that chain is so great! But that you were able to Google the designer & find a bit about her life just makes it so much more. You were able to bring part of that handbags history back to life! How cool!

    This is my first time on your blog & I’m hooked! Can’t wait to read more from you!


  10. Pingback: Conversation with Magda Makkay | The Vintage Traveler

  11. Mine is exactly like that except the leather is gold!


  12. Pingback: One Small Act | The Vintage Traveler

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