If you've never heard of Enid Collins, your handbag education is sorely lacking. Enid Collins was a Texan who designed a range of bags during the 1960s. She started off with a wooden box bag, later branching out into a more standard canvas tote bag. They were produced until her company was bought out in 1970.
I first encountered masses of Enid Collins merchandise a few years ago on eBay. At that time, the prices were pretty high, so I slaked my thirst for whimsical beaded bags by buying stuff from Lulu Guinness and Isabella Fiore. At $125-$300 a pop, the Lulu and Isabella stuff was actually competitively priced; plus I could check out the condition for myself.
(The Lulu Guinness picnic-themed bag on the right is a sample of the kind of thing I was buying.)
However, a recent scan of eBay offerings shows that Enid Collins bags are worth another look. Prices appear to have dropped considerably; I suppose the hard-core early-adapters have already stuffed their closets with EC treasures and moved on. Either that, or fashion has moved on, (as it always does) and whimsical bags look way too 2003, now that everyone is carrying great big, slouchy, bohemian-inspired, luggage brown oversized bags with lots of little outside pockets.
But if you're in the mood for whimsical ... something to carry when you're on your way to a girls-night-out Margarita fest wearing your Miss Trish of Capri sandals with the gold seahorses, you could spend $425 at Neiman Marcus on the bag at the left,
or pick up an Enid Collins, or even a knock-off, pictured on the right--for less than a tenth of that. And what could be better than that?
For more on Enid Collins, CoolOldStuff has a ton of information, plus good, clear pictures.