Hot! Southwest Find: Tooled Leather Purse

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I've been looking for a vintage tooled leather purse for quite some time so this Southwest find for $17 was quite a pleasant surprise.  I have no idea when or where it's from since there are no labels, marks, dates, etc… I'm just going to assume it's from the 1970s or 1980s since that's probably the safest bet based on the shape of the bag and its hardware.

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I'm totally amazed that I can't find anything online about dating these purses. Isn't the Internet supposed to have *everything*? Does anyone know anything about dating these bags?


Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. Hi Mena,
    I actually had a purse just like this . I really dont know ,how to date them.. But the one I had was in the late 60’s [around 1968]. In the Ms delta, close to the peniitary, they had a roadside flea market and the prisoners were allowed to sell these purses that they had hand made. [Of course, it wasnt the prisoners at the flea market, but workers would bring them to the flea market to sale for them]. They actually brought all kinds of wood crafts they had carved, billfolds and these type purses.. They were very well crafted.. amazing..
    Hope this helps.

  2. This is one of my dream finds! Soo pretty at such a great price!

  3. Hi Mena – When I saw this bag in one of your photos earlier in the week I was instantly transported back to my childhood. My father went through a leather carving phase during the mid 70’s. He made a beautiful bag for my mum, and belts for all of us. I will did out Mum’s bag and post a few photos.

  4. I worked in small sweatshop in 1972 in Los angeles. About 15 Mexicans and two Anglos (I was one) tooled,stamped, and laced leather bags together. It. Was hard work and you were paid by the piece. I didn’t work there for long. Everytime I see those bags it brings back memories of those years in the seventies.

  5. I love these bags. They remind me of my western roots. I have three and they all say “Hecho in Mexico”, but I suppose they were made all over in the 60s and 70s. There was a different style (smaller and narrow) that was common in the 1930s, but they are usually disintegrating or at least needing total re-lacing.
    The great thing about using them is that you will get in great conversations with all sorts of people. Anyhow, that fake wood flooring seems to be a sort of 70’s theme doncha think??