I have always loved Enid Collins handbags from the 1960s. I love their whimsy, insouciance and special hand-made quality.
Enid Collins in her studio in the 1960s
Enid Roessler Collins (1918 - 1990) was born in Shelbyville, Illinois, about 60 miles southeast of Springfield. She later moved with her family to San Antonio, Texas. Enid attended Texas Woman’s University where she studied fashion design and fine arts. In 1941 she married Frederic Collins an engineering draftsman and sculptor and they moved to a ranch in Medina, Texas. In 1946, in order to supplement their income, Enid and Frederic started making leather handbags which lead to them starting the Collins of Texas Handbag Company. The early handbags were designed by Enid, made out of saddle leather and trimmed with brass castings made by Frederic. The bags had an equestrian feel and reflected the Collins’ love of horses. A running colt was adopted to be a part of their logo.
The living room of the Collins’ ranch house served as a workshop where the Collins’ filled special orders for friends and supplied small shops at nearby dude ranches.
Around 1959 the Collinses started producing wooden box purses and canvas bucket style bags trimmed in leather. The bags were hand screen-printed with an image and then embellished with sequins, glass beads and and rhinestones.
1960s Enid Collins bag from the Ladybug VIntage Collection
There were many different bag designs and each had a whimsical, humorous and sometimes ironic title. Over the years more than 100 designs were produced with titles such as, ‘‘Glitterbugs’, “Flutterbye”, “Money Tree”, "Road Runner," "Night Owl," "Carriage Trade," "Money to Burn," "Sea Garden," "Love," and many more. Often there were several variations on a theme as popular designs were updated and modified with the changing seasons.
1960s Enid Collins Bag from the Ladybug Vintage Collection
Collins of Texas really took off when a designer friend of the Collinses suggested that they submit samples to the handbag buyer at Neiman Marcus. They did and an order was placed. The bags quickly became the must-have accessory among fashionable ladies everywhere.
1960s Collins of Texas Handbag Advertisement
From 1966 to 1968, Collins of Texas made papier maché handbags and jewelry in a factory in Puerto Rico. These pieces can now be hard to find as production was limited to two years and the items are very delicate.