Thursday, 12 February 2015

Do you know Susan?


chocolate brown suede handbag clutch from Susan of Bond street
My godmother knows I love vintage, and sends me some ace things. She picks them up all over the place – charity shops, church fetes, all sorts of locations. Yesterday I got a parcel from her containing several things, including this fantastic suede clutch bag. The chocolate brown suede is incredibly soft, and along the top is an ornate goldtone frame. It's in beautiful condition, and even has its original matching purse inside, and a little mirror.



The only flaw I could spot was that something was missing from the front. There's a place where clearly an oval thing was once mounted. My first thought was a cameo, but I honestly have no idea what was originally there. It'll be easy enough to see if Kernowcraft has a gemstone cabochon of the right size and colours to pop in there. I quite fancy tiger's eye or a nice agate.

Inside things get even more intriguing. My first thought was, "Wow, the lining's in perfect condition even though it's pale yellow, and the purse is still there!" The label was the really intriguing part, though. 'MADE IN ITALY FOR SU-AN' Sudan? Susan? My friend Lucy, who knows her leather goods (she's the merchandiser for Duo) suggested it could be Susan of Bond Street.

Interior of Susan clutch bag showing yellow silk lining and original purse.
A dig online turned up photos from Vogue September 1959 – not of my specific bag. Google Books is always really good for this sort of thing, as you can find references to otherwise-obscure brands in adverts and magazines. I found mentions of Susan Handbags in 1955 Country Life and 1957 Homes and Gardens, and even a mention in Lord Levy's autobiography where he says he worked for them as an accountant in the late 1960s. The price of the 1957 bag was £4 10 shillings. According to ThisIsMoney's inflation calculator, £4 then equates to around £87 now, so this bag would have been the equivalent of around £100. It looks as though Susan was a high-end brand indeed. If you know anything about Susan, I'd love more information.

Cinderella can keep her silly glass slippers and pumpkin coach – my godmother's a cut above hers!

15 comments :

  1. Oo this is brilliant!! I love it when you can find out about the history of a vintage item. Plus it's gorgeous!! I got a mid-century St. Christian dress months ago and can find no trace whatsoever of the brand, it's driving me potty! X

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    1. I had a look for 'St Christian' on Google books and even with the word 'dress' as well got nothing but religious stuff! I wonder if they named it in imitation of M&S' 'St Michael' brand? Would be interesting to know.

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  2. That looks like its a real high-end number, so it might be Susan after all. What a fab find by your godmother, especially as it still has its dinky purse.

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    1. I know, it's so lovely when you get the purse. I shall write her a very special thank you letter - I'd always write one anyhow - to encourage her to do more bag-hunting! She clearly has a gift for it.

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  3. Isn't that lovely! I do like to find a vintage bag with its little coin purse and mirror still there. I don't know anything about Susan, I'm afraid, but I too love researching vintage labels and brands online; I often find no information at all, it's as though these small businesses started up, made clothes, etc, the disappeared without a trace, which seems a shame. xxx

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    1. It makes you wonder which brands of today will be around in another fifty years. Top Shop, almost certainly. Some of the others might have vanished, though.

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  4. Wow, nice item, I love being able to find out the history of things.
    As much fun as finding interesting things written in old books.
    Bought my uncle copies of some of Marguerite Patten's wartime cookery books recently, and he said she has signed them inside, I had no idea, bought 2nd hand and sent unseen.

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    1. Oh, that is so cool! Is he going to cook from them?

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    2. I reckon he'll give it a go, he was born just after the end of the war...my late mother was four when it started...and I thought it would be a bit of interesting nostalgia for him, he seemed rather pleased with them, anyway.
      I was also rather envious, my own copies not being signed, haha!
      But I do have Ruth Mott's and Harry Dodson's in the book of that series, another serendipitous find.

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  5. What a lovely, thoughtful Godmother you have-and she has excellent taste in handbags. What a beautiful bag. I don't know Susan, but it would almost be worth seeking out on line, just for the possibility of scoring other similar bags at an auction. Might have been a maker's mark that fell from the frame? A tiger's eye sounds like a nice way to repair it.

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    1. I've found a couple of others, but that's it. Clearly they don't come on the market much, or if they do then the label has been lost. It's quite nice discovering a new label to be into; apart from Lisner jewellery I don't really have a 'thing'.

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  6. How very beautiful and thoughtful of your godmother. I have never heard of that label myself x

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  7. How lovely of your Godmother, you must be very special to her!
    I'm not aware of Susan either but the bag is gorgeous and certainly looks high end. I love researching things I've found, the internet makes it so much easier. x

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  8. Well you certainly do have a fairy godmother, she sounds amazing.

    When I worked at the university library I could delve into all the old trade directories and things like that. I researched the maker of my antique dinner jacket that way. (Very old school I know!) Hopefully you will find out some more about your bag.

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  9. What a great godmother! It looks like a lovely bag and it's history is intriguing.

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