Perfect for a doll accessory or for display, this tiny but beautiful early- to mid-1920s Florentine tooled leather purse features stained glass-rich colors--crimson, navy, and ocher, on a medium brown ground. The intricate tooling adorns every possible surface: Front and back, underneath the raised flap, and covering both sides of the handle, as well as on the matching coin purse and the little leather backed mirror.
On the purse and coin purse, scrolling foliate motifs inside bold outlining evoke a fabulously coffered church ceiling, while the mirror back features Art Nouveau-esque lilies. The purse, which closes with a brass snap, has accordion-pleat sides and a blue faille-lined interior with two open sidewall pockets.
Stamped “Made in Italy” in gold lettering underneath the flap, the purse reflects the vogue for Florentine or “illumined” tooled leather that started with the decade. Early 1920s ads stress the hand-applied nature and “brilliant effect” of the rich colors on these purses, and objects such as book covers, desk sets and picture frames were fashioned of Florentine tooled leather as well.
At 4” x 3 ½” with a 9” handle, this purse wouldn’t have held more than a rouge tin, hanky and a coin or two. Though purses that are extremely small by today’s standards regularly appear in period catalogs, so do “kiddie purses”--miniaturized versions of the ones Mother carried, often fitted with a coin purse and mirror, just like hers.
Photo #8 shows a 6” x 7” “Florentine Bag” in the 1924 Montgomery Ward catalog; it is identical in shape to the purse being offered here, but so is the 2.75” x 3.75” “Kiddies’ Bag” further down the page! Due to this purse's size, on the one hand, and elaborate decoration on the other, I am honestly not sure whether it was intended for an adult or for a child.
This little gem of a purse is in excellent condition.
Proud Member of the VFG Vintage Fashion Guild