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Antique Purse Collector's Society|Charter Member|Linda Marshall






How did you get started collecting antique purses?
Collecting must be in my genes. My depression era Mother was an avid collector of EVERYTHING. Does the apple fall far from the tree? I still have some of my childhood purses. One is a pretty shoulder, hand tooled child's purse. My Mother made purses. She did needlepoint, beautiful petit point, embroidery and leather work. I still carry one of the tooled purses she made for herself. My husband's cousin is a saddle-maker. He just finished re-lacing my beloved purse. As a teenager, I made myself a needlepoint purse which I still have and it's darned pretty! I never actually considered myself a 'purse collector', but I've always kept my 'pretty' ones. Then in 1995 I bought a retiring antique jewelry dealer's business and went in to the antique business. Jewelry is my love and that is mostly what I sell, but of course, purses are a natural with jewelry, so I began picking them up as well, along with what I call 'lady items'. I purchased Roseann Ettinger's "Handbags" for my business & my serious education began. Then, on eBay, I studied the awesome bags, and well, how can one resist? Then I realized I had been selling purses that I should have been keeping! That was a real revelation.

How many do you have?
I don't really know because they are so scattered. I collect modern & old. I'm an all or nothing gal. I don't discriminate about age or beauty. Everything has its place in the timeline, so is therefore collectible in my book. Even bad examples have their place in a collection. It's knowing the difference that is important. And I have yet to conquer that one. If I like it, I go for it.

Which types do you collect?
I love them all. However, I have always had a penchant for beads~~any glass or ceramic beads. I collect antique trade beads, crystal beads, gem beads, etc. So, naturally I love the beaded purses. Especially the hand-done beaded bags….new or old. I have, however, a pretty varied collection.

Why do you love antique purses?
Antique/Vintage purses are small, they are portable and they are worth money! I am a realist. With the stock market not being a level playing field anymore, I have decided to invest in purses, jewelry and other one-of-a-kinds. You can usually at least break even, and more, if you are lucky. Next, I highly admire any handwork...any of the arts. Handmade purses are truly works of art……even if made from a pattern. I love to imagine the lady/gent who made it, probably in dim light, what she/he must have been thinking or feeling, and what little changes they made to the design to make it their own.

I love to imagine where a purse might have gone around the world maybe, or maybe it never left home. Was it a gift to oneself or a gift from someone else? Somehow the 'patina' of antique purses transcends the generations and makes me believe I am care-taking something that should not be lost in time. I try to instill that in my children and my clients. Protect, love and pass on.

What's the best deal you've ever gotten on one?
I guess the best deal I've ever gotten was to be born to a wonderful woman who taught me to appreciate and love antiques. She left me many wonderful purses. My next best purse deal was probably the 'sugared purse' I wrote about earlier for the museum. I consider it a real treasure and I paid very little for it from a fellow dealer.

What's the worst deal you've ever gotten on one?
That is easy as it was fairly recent. I bought a scenic purse for $167 from a new seller on eBay. I was assured the only problem was a few missing fringes and the pictures seemed to say that was true. When I received the purse, it was all dry rot! Very fragile to say the least. (This is that 'bad example' I referred to above). When I tried to get a refund, the seller couldn't be reached by any means. To make a long story short, she did the same to other buyers and is no longer on eBay! So I have a $167 worth of antique beads!! The lesson I learned was not to buy from unproven sellers…try to leave that to other brave souls. I knew better, but did it anyway.

What do your family / friends think about your obsession?
My family has come to know that their Mother/wife always has a current passion and they just sort of roll their eyes, smile and nod when I am yakking about the newest love in my life. I seem to be a collector of many things, so it's nothing new to them. My husband, Steve, is very supportive and even looks for me when we are doing a show or if he is off on a trip. He has excellent taste, so if I have to choose (God Forbid!!!) between two, I always go with his recommendation. Being an engineer, he looks to see how things are put together and with what. He just has a good eye.

What do you do besides antique purses?
I love just about everything. But one of my passions besides the beads is rocks! I love rocks and wood, so when we travel, I just have to bring some home. Whenever we moved, the rocks and wood always went too, to the chagrin of the movers. I suppose my most serious passion is jewelry-- antique and vintage. I collect Western books. I love dishes and I LOVE flatware. Especially old flatware in any grape pattern. I have been very passionate about genealogy. I am proud that I was able to obtain a photo of one line of my great, great, great grandparents who married in 1804 who were very old when cameras were invented, but I have a photo of them!! So from them, I have wedding photos of all that line to me and mine.

Where do you live?
After my husband's 21 year Naval Career, we returned to Colorado in 1982 to finish raising our two children. We live on a few acres in the mountains with our two horses and one cat. The rest of our animals have passed on one by one. The 'five' of us are all survivor Seniors. By education I was a school teacher and my husband an electrical engineer. We loved traveling all over with the Navy. While I collected antiques back then, I didn't buy purses. I hate to think of all the lovelies I missed; I was more focused on furniture then & raising a family.

Tell me a little about your family.
I still have my original husband of 38 years and we have two grown children. Our daughter presented us with a granddaughter, Elle, in June of 2003. She and her husband just moved to New Orleans so we will miss them, but I understand the purse hunting is great down there. Our son and his wife live in a nearby town & we see them often. We are currently semi-retired. We do a few shows a year in Colorado and Wyoming. Husband Steve, originally from New Mexico, is a Mr. Fixit and is in high demand and works when he wants. We want to travel more and visit old friends. Our interests include our family, horses, gardening, reading, fishing, travel, and best of all, our friends. True to Naval tradition, we love entertaining.

Anything else you want to say?
I suspect I am the oldest APCS member in the club. I am appreciative of Melissa starting this group. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and have loved making new friends along with learning so much. In closing, I would like to say, "Stay young at heart, lighten up, enjoy life to the fullest and don't take yourself too seriously. None of us gets out alive anyway". I have a sign I display in my booth at shows. It says, and I quote, "If I should live to a ripe old age, may I possess some bit of individuality, charm and wit. That I may not be discarded when I am withered, worn and weak, but sought after and cherished like a fine antique." Anonymous. I aspire to this for myself and for the purses I love so much.

If you would like more information about the Antique Purse Collectors Society you can email Melissa at or visit www.antiquepursesociety




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  • See Links page to visit
  • (Discovering Juliana Jewelry)
  • (Costume Jewelery Collectors International)
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  • (Vintage, Fashion & Costume Jewelry Club)

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