Collecting: Judith Leiber Purses

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My re-creation  of a photo spread from the book, Judith Leiber: The Artful Handbag.

How can a girl go wrong with a beautiful purse? If you know the story of Judith Leiber purses, you know that they are quality items, that are visually amazing. Most widely known for evening bags, creations take the form of animals (lions, dogs, etc.), objects (books, shells, fortune cookies, etc.), and beautifully design shapes.

The inside of purses are beautifully detailed usually in silk or leather.
The inside of JL purses are beautifully lined, usually in silk or leather.

These purses are really collectors items and can go for large sums of money on the antiques and collectibles market. But, for us cheap girls, there is always a garage sale or online auction to look for deals.

A gorgeous red leather day purse with monochromatic paisley design.
A gorgeous red leather day purse with monochromatic paisley design.

My collection is very small. It currently consists of eight purses. Six are the type of purses we think of when we think Judith Leiber:  jeweled, small, metal and for evening. Two are larger and more for day wear. They were probably from the 80s or 90s and both are in pristine condition. I have a lovely red leather embroidered bag as well as a classic black snake skin design.

The black snake bag is detailed with silver and gold hardware and an onyx stone on the clasp.
The black snake bag is detailed with silver and gold hardware and an onyx stone on the clasp.

The red bag has a gold chain detail. It is beautifully designed with tone on tone stitching of a paisley design.  The black bag is trimmed in a silver and gold tone frame that has a black semi-precious stone accent, with an optional black snake skin shoulder length strap.

A very small evening bag, which won't even accommodate my iPhone. A small lipstick, credit card and tissue is the limit.
A very small evening bag, which won’t even accommodate my iPhone. A small lipstick, credit card and tissue are the limit.

I carry the larger bags for times when I need lots of stuff (more than just a lipstick and $100 bill), but don’t want a plain bag; like going to the opera, out to dinner at an upscale restaurant, or maybe a more dressy work dinner.

Leiber purses come with dust bags to protect them.
Leiber purses come with dust bags to protect them while stored.

The real show stoppers are Judith Leiber’s metal bags covered in Swarovski crystals. They come in so many shapes and sizes. Mine are all so tiny that it is tough to get much in them. My phone doesn’t fit. A small lipstick is about all I can manage.

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Mirrors, combs and matching coin purses are standard accouterments for a Judith Leiber purse.

Most of JL’s bags come with a matching coin purse, comb, mirror, and dust bag. If you are buying used, you may or may not aquire these at the time you buy the purse. They usually coordinate with the purse (gold tones for gold purses and silver for silver purses). The coin purses may be lined in a color that matches the purse, like the navy fabric in the silver coin purse above, or, I have seen a few that were made of a coordinating fabric, such as red satin.

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A wonderful book on Judith Leiber and her purses gives her history as well as provides beautiful photos.

When I start collecting something specific, such as these purses, I like to buy a book or two that details the history or story behind the item. I purchased the book above that gives many beautiful examples of Judith Leiber purses through the years.

Not only did Mrs. Leiber design and manufacture purses, but her company has also made belts, glasses, shoes, and perfume.  Looking on eBay, you may even find earrings, necklaces, paperweights or jeweled mirrors.

Mrs. Leiber sold her company in 1993 and it, Leiber Group, is now owned by Pegasus Apparel Group.  Although Mrs. Leiber retired in 1998, her company still produces purses based on her original designs.  They will live on as well-heeled ladies continue to carry these little bags to society events all over the world.  Oh, and one country girl who likes nice things!

I love this minaudière, which has a solid ivory back, golf leather lining, and a small gold chain strap, if desired.

Some of my bags are pristine, but a couple are in need of some repair work. But, I am not in a hurry. They adorn my purse credenza as beautifully as if they were perfect.

A very classic Judith Leiber evening bag. This one needs some repair work.
A very classic Judith Leiber evening bag, called the chatelaine. It was the first metal purse created by Judith Leiber in 1967. This one needs some repair work.

I hope you enjoyed my small collection of Judith Leiber purses.  I certainly enjoy carrying them!

This is a happy design. It reminds me of olives!
This is a happy design. It reminds me of olives!

 

This gold bag provides a bit more
This gold bag provides a bit more space for necessities for a night out.
This is a much later model of Judith Leiber purse.
This is a much later model of Judith Leiber purse.

6 thoughts on “Collecting: Judith Leiber Purses

  1. Hello Kayla,

    Would you be interested in judith Leiber Habibi Genie Lamp Minaudiere clutch?

    I am in Dallas and would enjoy sending you more details. It’s in perfect condition without any stones missing.

    Looking forward to hearing back from you.

    Best always,
    Daniel Avery

  2. Kayla Price I have a JL handbag or clutch purse that was left to my from my cousin. It is brown in color do not know what it is as far as snake skin or what. It came in a bag with JL and has a golden mirror and comb and a change purse with it. I am looking to find out what the value of this item is. Do you know anyone that can appraise this item that is around Kentucky. Your help would be greatly appreciated..

    1. Susan, I do not know anyone in Kentucky that could appraise it for you. There are some online resale/consignment stores that might be able to tell you what they think it could be sold for. When I am trying to value something, I look around on eBay for similar items to see at what price they are listed and at what price they are selling. I sometimes even find the same item. I hope that helps! Kayla

  3. I would like to sell a JL handbag, vintage, brown alligator, jeweled trim, referred to as The Judith. I visited the store on Madison Avenue, New York years ago and confirmed worth upwards of $10,000. Can you advise. Sincerely,

    1. Your bag sounds amazing! I looked on eBay, 1st Dibs, and the Real Real to see what was for sale. A bag was cross listed on eBay and 1st Dibs for $11,000/$12,000. I am not familiar with the Judith style, so I don’t know if it is the same as your bag or not. If there were a collector’s club, I would start there, but I can’t find one online. I think posting for sale online might be your best option. Wish I had a better answer for you! Good luck!

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