Favorite Things: Alligator Handbag

Heather Houston There’s a story behind every piece of artwork or antique. The “stories” are often as intriguing as the beauty and the craftsmanship of the items themselves.

We’ve asked community members and Art & Antiques Show supporters to share with us the story behind a  memorable piece in their collection.

In this post, Avondale resident Heather Houston tells us why her Alligator Handbag is one of her Favorite Things.

Describe the memorable piece in your collection?

A vintage, genuine alligator handbag. The handbag is black with a metal clasp.

1950's Alligator Handbag

1950’s Alligator Handbag

Share any background information that you may have on this item.

To learn more about this handbag, I spoke with the original owner, Berrilyn Houston.Berrilyn

In 1950, Berrilyn purchased the handbag at Purcell’s Clothing Store for Women. Purcell’s, which was located in downtown Jacksonville, was her favorite place to shop. Berrilyn estimates that the handbag ranged from $50-$60, but she is certain that she used her mother’s charge account to make the purchase.

Here are some photos of the department store:

Jacksonville, Florida Photo Credit:State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory Photographer: Jack(John Gordon), Spotswood Studio

Jacksonville, Florida
Photo Credit:State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory
Photographer: Jack (John Gordon), Spotswood Studio

April 20, 1953 Photo Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory Photographer: Robert E. Fisher

April 20, 1953
Photo Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory; Photographer: Robert E. Fisher

When did you purchase or acquire this piece?

The alligator handbag was a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law Carolyn Houston.CarolynHouston

How have you used or displayed this piece?

I enjoy pairing this bag with a sophisticated little black dress and heels for cocktail parties and similar occasions.

Why is this piece special to you?

This piece is special because it was gift that had been passed down from mother-in-law to daughter-in-law for two generations. Berrilyn Houston gave this handbag to Carolyn who gave it to me. It was the first Christmas that I was married to my husband, making this memory extra special. I received this handbag, which I now consider an heirloom, and a homemade cookbook full of family recipes – it’s a good thing that handbags are one-size-fits-all.

Please share your involvement with or connection to the Women’s Board at Wolfson Children’s Hospital?

This is my first year volunteering with the Art & Antiques Show. I serve on the Young Collectors Party committee and I am working with a great team of authors to launch the Art & Antiques Show’s first blog.

What are you looking forward to most about the 2013 Art & Antiques Show?

I am looking forward to gathering ideas for decorating our first home and hopefully a little shopping.

Interested in sharing a favorite piece in your collection? 

To learn more and submit your Favorite Things,

please email womensboardwch@bmcjax.com.


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