There was a time, primarily during the late 1970s and '80s, that no one wanted an Enid Collins bag. They were grandma's castoffs that could be found at garage sales for practically nothing. Fortunately for folks who bought and held on to them, times change and people interested in collecting handbags will pay good prices to own just the right Collins bag today.
Who Was Enid Collins?
In case you're wondering, there really was an Enid Collins.
This clever milliner from Medina, Texas began producing fanciful handbags in 1959. She continued to take credit for her designs until 1970 when she sold her business to the Tandy Leather Corporation.
Identifying Collins Bags
When Collins was doing her own designing, the canvas bucket bags and box purses she produced were signed with "EC" or "c." on the side of each one. They were colorfully decorated with paint, sequins, rhinestones, and other unique embellishments. Often the box bags had a large mirror on the inside with the printed statement: "The Original Box Bag by Collins of Texas, hand-decorated for you!" Some bags were even named.
Some of the most popular bucket bags have Glitter Bugs, Sea Garden, Jewel Garden, and Daisy, among other apropos names, stamped on the side of the bag making the name easily identifiable. The stylish box purses collectors often seek include those named Pineapple, Flutterbye, Money Tree, and Sun.
Collins even designed a series of zodiac bags at one point. As you might imagine, the embellishments matched the name of the bag quite suitably. For example, a Collins Sea Garden bag features seahorses, other fish, and underwater plant life in an attractive collage.
When Tandy Leather Corporation took over in the 1970s, the logo marking the purses changed to "Collins of Texas" or simply "Collins" with a running horse above the word.
Tandy also added additional shapes to the traditional bucket and box lines. All Collins bags are collectible, but those with the older logos tend to be more highly prized by avid vintage accessory buyers.
Another attractive aspect inherent to Enid Collins purses is that many from the 1960s are dated so collectors can easily determine when their bags were produced.
Who Carried Enid Collins Bags When They Were New?
While these bags seem rather fancy compared to most of the everyday handbags women carry now, Collins didn't design them for evening wear. They were large enough for daily use and very basic on the inside in addition to being fitted with leather trim and brass hardware to make them durable. The box purses also held a mirror on the inside of the lid to make cosmetic touch-ups convenient. These quality bags were fun to carry, even if you were just going to the grocery store.
Of course, even when they were new, Collins bags weren't everyone's cup of tea and a little on the gaudy side for some folks. This probably accounts for why so many can be found in like new or excellent condition now. If they were received as gifts, they may have never been tucked away in a closet and never used.
Collins Look-Alike Bags
Ladies wanting to try creating their own Collins-style bag during the 1960s could buy a "Sophistikit" and craft their own purse. While uncompleted kits are hard to come by now, vintage shoppers run across completed Collins imitation bags quite often. They can be considered collectible in their own right now, and purchased at a fraction of the price when compared to an original Collins. These are usually easy to identify by the lack of the "EC" or "c" mark and decor that looks a little less professionally applied than that of an Enid Collins original.
Valuing Enid Collins Bags
As with most collectibles, Collins bags in excellent to mint condition with little or no wear command higher prices. Unfortunately, the applied decorations sometimes fell off with use and the components to replace them in the right shapes and colors aren't always easy to find.
The strappy leather handles on the bucket bags and wooden bases suffered wear over time, too.
So just how much is a mint condition Collins bag worth? In most cases, an early 1960s bag with desirable theme decor in excellent condition will be priced in the $75-100 range. However, some bags sell for much less and others sell for quite a bit more.
A mint condition Bird Watcher II bag, which features a Siamese cat peering at a bird, in excellent condition with an "EC" logo could easily sell for $200-300 in the right setting. A slightly worn Owl and Pussycat box purse might sell for $125 or a little more. But if you just want to buy a cleverly decorated bag to carry for fun, you can easily purchase a 1970s Collins of Texas bag for well under $50.
While dealers specializing in vintage clothing and accessories shopping at estate sales snatch up Enid Collins bags, there are still some bargains around. Even in vintage savvy areas of the country, a pretty bag will show up for $25 or less in an antique mall, at a flea market, or thrift store on occasion, so keep an eye out for those occasional deals.