Sunday, January 30, 2022

Journalist Dorothy Roe

Among the many journalists referred to in "Pain in the Purse" is Dorothy Roe. In her fashion column, she wrote about how to avoid the tax by either crafting your own bag or buying a really good leather one that would last. Dorothy Roe also wrote the 1961 book "The Trouble with Women is Men." In it she quotes magazine editor John Fischer as theorizing, among other things, in his August 1958 article "The Non-Sexual Behavior of the Human Female," that women are "deciduous," and they shed "gloves, lipstick, handbags and handkerchiefs as a tree sheds leaves, while men spend their lives picking up after them!"

This cavalier attitude about women and their supposed bad behaviors was not Fischer's alone. "Pain in the Purse" cites similar instances of flippancy among male writers and politicians with regard to the handbag tax.

Dorothy Roe's 1961 book, from the collection of Wendy Dager/The Vintage Purse Museum.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Manicure Set with Original Excise Tax Tag

Not only were handbags taxed at 20 percent from 1944-1954, but also items that fell into this category of "luxury" items, including luggage, wallets, key fobs and manicure sets.

1940s manicure set from the collection of The Vintage Purse Museum with original excise tax tag.

Closeup of tag.
23 Nov 1948, Tue The Algona Upper Des Moines (Algona, Iowa)

Monday, January 3, 2022

The Crafters

While many vintage clothing collectors are under the impression that the trend of home-crafted handbags peaked during and directly after World War II because of materials shortages, there was no rationing of handbags. There was, however, a limit on leather use at the manufacturing level, so traditional purse makers had to resort to unconventional materials such as plastics, which led to the creation of many unusual 1940s-1950s handbags.

However, in the book Pain in the Purse: The Tax That Changed Handbag History, you'll see proof that home crafters were crocheting bags using patterns such as the one below because they were simply trying to avoid the handbag tax on store-bought purses.

1945 Spool Cotton Company pattern book from the collection of The Vintage Purse Museum. This book still has the 10-cent price tag from Indiana-based Morris 5-cents to $1 Store inside its cover.