Location September 1928:
A.I. Magid Co., Inc.
Founded in 1916, A.I Magid exhibited at the Second National Merchandise Fair, held July 23- August 3, 1923 at the Grand Central Palace, New York City. (New York Times May 3, 1923, page 9)
Display ad, page 70, Trunks and Leather Goods September 1928.
Paris was the center of fashion in the early decades of the 20th century. American manufacturers traveled regularly to Europe for inspiration. This story in the July 1935 issue of Luggage and Leather Goods details the results of one trip, especially the exhibit of Italian Renaissance art. Emily Braun, Professor of Art History, Hunter College, said of this exhibit, "In 1935, an extraordinary exhibition of Italian Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces opened at the Petit Palais in Paris. Organized jointly by the Italian fascist regime and the French Republic, this cultural spectacle blatantly promoted "humanist values" to the ends of diplomatic brinkmanship and colonial conquest."
Paris was the style center for fashion between the wars and current French innovations were perceived by Americans as superior to home grown concepts, as seen in this half page ad from March 1930 Hand Bag Modes, page 66.
March 1930 "Hand Bag Modes" page 70
In October 2005, I was delighted to find a web site by Walter Grutchfield 14TH TO 42ND STREET that documents painted signs on building exteriors from 14th to 42nd street in New York City. Since the handbags industry was grounded here in early to mid-20th Century, I hoped the site would provided a glimpse of the real places and Walter exceeded my wildest hopes!
This document of Industrial Americana can be found on the side of 30 E. 33rd St., the Crystal Building near Madison Ave. This picture was taken by Walter in 2002.
Walter Grutchfield's site includes the following details about Magid Handbags and A.I Magid, it's predecessor. Please visit the site at 14TH TO 42ND STREET
The March 1930 issue of "Hand Bag Modes" includes this glimps into the newly redecorated showroom of A.I. Magid at 14 East 33rd St.
The text reads "The A, I. Magid showroom and buying booths have recently been redecorated in a green antique finish, uniform on the walls and the showcases and the booths. Antique type chairs and cabinets are used, and full length mirrors are available for women buyers to study the effects of hand-bags with their costumes. At the same time the showroom was redecorated, the factory space was materially enlarged to take care of increasing business."
Walter Grutchfield shared his communications with Maggid family members and his own research into the business' history. "Magid Handbags developed from the millinery business of Mrs. Anna I. Magid (born Poland/Russia 1870, died Brooklyn 1934) at 38 W. 116th St. in 1901. Her husband, Isaac Magid (born Poland/Russia 1866, immigrated 1892, naturalized 1903) was the foreman in a rag factory on Renwick St. and not involved in the millinery business. At the time of the 1910 U S Census the Magids lived in the Bronx with their 5 children ranging in age from 9 to 18 and Isaac Magid's mother, Paula, age 60. Anna lists her occupation as "Millinery, Own Shop." By 1912 Anna was involved with the Hygrade Ornament Co. at 640 Broadway, a business run by Samuel Blaufeld, Michael Shirk and, somewhat later, Max Posner. Blaufeld and Shirk were in business as "Blaufeld & Shirk, Hats" at the same address. By 1915 Anna Magid was president of the Hygrade Ornament Co. and her daughter, Augusta, was a manager. (Samuel Blaufeld remained as treasurer.) A year later she branched out on her own as "A. I. Magid Co., Millinery Ornaments" at 4 W. 37th St. This business became A. I. Magid, Co. "novelties", "leather goods", and "handbags" at several locations around the East 30s from 1918 to 1936. By 1922 Anna had brought in her son, Morris (who later re-named himself Maurice Magid) and her son-in-law, Leopold Sneider (1896-1971) who had married Anna's daughter Frances. A second son, Leon Magid (1901-1973) joined the business a little later. By the time of the U S Census in 1930, Anna Magid (with husband Isaac) had retired to Miami, Florida, and A. I. Magid Co. was run by the two brothers, Leon and Maurice, along with their brother-in-law, Leopold Sneider. (The brothers Maurice and Leon Magid appear in the 1930 U S Census as ages 31 and 29, Manufacturers of Ladies Hand Bags, living at 687 Lexington Ave.) Maurice Magid was the ultimate survivor, living in 3 centuries (born 1897, died 2001).
Paul Magid, Maurice's son, writes regarding the Magid family: "Anna ... must have been quite a lady. In the 1920's she used to drive by herself with her little chihuahua, Izzy, down to Florida once a year. Quite a trek in those days. Her husband Isaac never had anything to do with the business. He worked as a foreman in a factory that reprocessed rags into cloth (shoddy). His wife seemed to be the dominant one in the family... Snieder's wife Francis and my brother's other sister, Augusta (Gus) also worked in the business. They were both very bright and went to Barnard College. My father quit school in the twenties to go to work for his mother in the business, but in the thirties, returned to college (NYU), got his degree and went into business as a real estate developer, doing mostly commercial property work. He recalled his days with the company fondly as it gave him an opportunity to make over twenty trips to Europe by ship as a buyer for [his] mother. He even went to Russia during one of the trips."
A. I. Magid Co. moved to 30 E. 33 St. in 1937 and became Magid Handbags around 1938/39. The sign says, Over 50 Years of Continuous Service, which should mean that it was painted in the 1950s. Some time in the 1980s the business was sold to outside interests. As of 2003 Magid Handbags still survived as a trade name (registered by Y & S Handbags, 320 5th Ave.) but had no connection with the Magid family."
Many thanks to Walter Grutchfield for sharing his findings with Handbag mavens!
Anna's Magid's great-grandaughter, Bette Levy, is an artist in touch with her roots. "At the turn of the century, my great-grandmother, Anna Magid started a beaded handbag company in New York City, and her daughter, my grandmother, was the designer. Two of my earliest memories relate to Magid Handbags. In one memory, I am sitting on the floor in one of the workrooms, playing with thousands of seed beads... in another memory, I am lying at the foot of my grandmother's bed while she designs and pricks out bead patterns on tissue paper attached to a wooden board." See Bette's work at Pyrogallery: Bette Levy
Handbag News August 1942 issue of "Luggage & Leather Goods," page 57
School Styles At Magid
For Back-To-School promotion Magid is showing new fabric bags in a novelty rayon twill material that has the appearance of flannel. To retail at $2.95 there are various styles including one with a polished wood frame, a top zipper and several envelopes. Fringed yarn trim in contrasting colors is eye-catching.
Bags for Spring 1956 were presented on January 3, 1956 by agreement as a member of the National Authority for the Ladies Handbag Industry. 1956NationalAuthorityMembers
AFLOATóJerry Lederer of Magid Handbags, left a few weeks back on a world cruise. (December 1959 Handbags & Accessories, page 51)
The 1960s, 1970s & 1980s
Simple white lucite box bag, made in Hong Kong and marked Magid, ca 1965. A similar caramel Magid Lucite Hong Kong example sold online for $60 in 2006.
This lucite and metal shoulder bag features an extremely long shoulder bag chaing handle, popular in the late 70s and 80s.