Paris-Designed Handbags from Montgomery Ward

Lately I’ve been attracted to ads that are shaped like the objects they are promoting. I’m sure there is a name for this, but it escapes me at the moment. I recently found this example of a handbag sales folder from Montgomery Ward.

The back of the folder even has the back strap handle printed onto the paper.

Open the “handbag” and you see the $4.85 Paris-designed handbags offered by Montgomery Ward. There is a variety of styles in various leathers, most being offered in more than one color. There were several designs in ostrich and French kid antelope.

Some of the clasps have marcasite ornaments, and one has crocodile trim. The “shell frames” seen on two designs are simulated. In all, they look to be quality products. The $4.85 price looks to be a tremendous bargain, but the US Inflation Calculator tells me the cost in 2019 dollars would be $71.69. That is still a good price for a quality handbag.

One thing my little paper handbags lacks is a date. From the styles I knew this dated to the second half of the 1920s, or maybe into the early 30s. But a close reading of the ad copy provided the exact answer.

Montgomery Ward dated the beginning of the company to 1872, so add fifty-six years to that, and I determined that the brochure dates to 1928.

Another part of the ad copy reveals a bit of how the fashion industry operated at the time.

Created from original Models, hurried to us by our French Fashion Correspondent, and copied for us by an American Manufacturer whose name stands for the best in fine Leather Goods.


Filed under Collecting, Curiosities

5 responses to “Paris-Designed Handbags from Montgomery Ward

  1. Some of them have a very Arts & Crafts era look. Now you need to find one of the handbags.
    bonnie in provence


  2. jacq staubs

    The idea of Wards or Sears for “fashion” to most people would be puzzling/strange. The same for a “Paris designed” handbag at Wards even more so. Only a certain generation can relate .I do not remember either one being a “go to” for ready to wear merchandising. As you often point out – regional / different era? Interesting subject.


  3. Thanks for this intriguing post. I would love to own at least one of those bags!


  4. To Jacq–It seems strange to us that “low cost” companies like Wards or Sears would offer high quality goods, but they certainly did in the first part of the twentieth century. For example, in 1924 Wards had a line of silk dresses made from Corticelli silk. And if you take a look at clothes produced by those companies from the fifties and sixties, you will be amazed by the quality of construction compared to fast fashion today.


  5. Pingback: The Fall Hat Box, 1911, Muhlfelder’s of Albany and Troy, New York | The Vintage Traveler

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