The cute label inside said "Hand Decorated by Caron of Houston, Texas". I still have her. Here she is:
|My first Caron bag|
I'm not sure what it is I like about these bags so much...they really are kind of tacky & almost ugly, in a way. I think it's best described by the french phrase 'jolie laide", which means "pretty/ugly".
Since then I've run across many bags from this maker, but never saw much about the company or designer in any book. No one seemed to know anything about this company! I did manage to find one 80-something year old lady who said that back in the 50's, Caron bags were "all the rage" and she just "had to have one!"
Here's what the tags look like:
|Two more Caron beauties|
I'm thinking about selling one of the two above in my Etsy shop. Anyone have an opinion as to which one I should sell? I like them both equally, but they are similar enough that I think I should sell one...I can't decide!
Here's the most recent addition to my collection. This little golden cutie was a filthy wreck and I got it on Ebay for about ten bucks. A little TLC, and she cleaned up nicely!
|My new baby...I love the boxy shape!|
The most common pieces are black wool jersey, with a single top handle. One side is encrusted and bedazzled with a thick layer of all kinds of gewgaws...beads, needlepoint flowers, rhinestones, metal and/or plastic leaves, three-dimensional fruit...all framed by a strip of coordinating braid or gimp. There are other colors out there, most commonly navy blue, brown, tan, taupe, and occasionally metallic gold or silver.
Here are some nice & somewhat unusual examples from Ebay.
|Current eBay auction Very unique (and overpriced)|
|The straw ones are fun, too! Another Ebay auction|
I have a couple of those, too. Here they are:
|Two bags by Soure' Bags, New York|
The Caron company was started in Houston, Texas, by Mrs. Velva Pepper (great name, huh?) who began embellishing handbags in her garage in the mid 50's and selling them to her friends. Soon, her daughter joined her in this enterprise, and soon thereafter their respective husbands joined in as well. Caron, Inc. of Houston was formed in 1957.
According to an old Kiplinger's report, Velva took her little garage enterprise to pretty great heights...in 1963 they had 65 employees and annual sales of $2,000,000. Impressive, I think!
I haven't been able to find out when the company shut down, but my best guess is in the late 60's or early 70's. Mrs. Pepper passed away in 1982 at the age of 68. I wish I could find a picture of her...if I do, I'll post an update.
I think that's a pretty cool story. It would be a big deal nowadays, but back in the 50's? You go, Velva!