My newest acquisition is this “Bonnie Bag” from the 1940s. It’s often described as a knitting bag, but period advertising describe it also as a beach bag. This is a bit of a lazy post, as I bought this bag from Robin of Edgertor at Etsy. Of all the vintage sellers I know, Robin does the best job of researching her wares. So much of what you will read here is Robin’s work, which she freely shared.
The bag style seems to be quite common, and dated to the late 1930s. Several different companies made these, with some being labeled while others are not. In 1942 W.L.M.Clark registered a design patent for two styles of the bag – one with an oval wooden plaque, and one with a square plaque.
Here’s one of the patent drawings, with the square wooden plaque. Robin says she doubts that Clark actually invented the design, and I agree with her. Here is an ad for the bag from May, 1942, months before Clark’s patent for a slightly different design was registered.
It is a clever design, and being made of heavy canvas, they have held up well over the years. Mine shows a few signs of use, but it is in really excellent condition.
My bag was made by A. Mamaux & Son. Would it surprise you to learn that this was a window awning business, not a handbag business?
If you were an awning store in the 1930s or 40s, would you throw out the leftover scraps from awning projects? No, of course not. In this case it really appears that remnants were used to make a type of Bonnie Bag.
I had been looking for the perfect Bonnie Bag when I saw this one in Robin’s Instagram feed. With that little Scottie, how could I resist?
The canvas is very heavy – sturdy enough to carry all one’s beach needs.
Expanded, the bag has a totally different look.
I have seen quite a few of this type of expandable bag with no label at all. I don’t think it’s a far reach to assume that these were also made in the home from scraps of canvas, especially during wartime.