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Location January 1955:

Bags by Josef
Manufactured by Gold Seal Importers GoldSealImporters
30 East 33rd. St.
New York

This ca. 1935 example carries the Hobe' and Bags by Josef marks. Each crystal is individually bezel set. In 2005, it achieved an auction price of $764 dollars, but failed to reach reserve and was not sold.

This Saks Fifth Avenue Ad, featuring the folding opera, was featured on page 46 of the December 1935 issue of Luggage & Leather Goods. "AN OPERA BAG THAT FOLDS UP. A new model for evening from Gold Seal Importers, Inc."

In 1936, Gold Seal Importers sold both items imported from the design centers of Europe and bags made in the US. Retail prices ranged from $2.95 to $50, corrected for inflation by 1262% since 1936 translates to $37.29 to $631 in 2005 dollars.

Vogue ad from 1938 features a Bag by Josef ensemble for Holiday giving in the lower right corner.

Retailers in the 30's and 40's promoted monograms to personalize handbags and luggage. Monocraft was a major maker of these metal trims and often claimed the front cover of Luggage & Leather Goods, featuring bags by various manufacturers, embellished with their monograms. This Bags by Josef leather clutch was one such example, included on the cover of the June 1942 issue.

Bags by Josef produced a wide variety of bags from leather to fabric to exquisite beaded bags. In the 50s' they often held the front cover illustration on the trade journal "Handbags & Accessories" by Haire Publications. This striped leather cylinder graced the cover of the January 1955 issue.

The connection between Bag by Josef and Gold Seal Importers GoldSealImporters is indicated in the August 1942 "Luggage & Leather Goods," page 34. "Piece-de-resistance in color is the luscious new "Spat Beige" ... a medium beige with a pinky cast. In superb English suede, there are hats, bags and gloves. This new neutral is an excellent accent color with brown, black, blue, red or wine shades, or green."

Color and leather match-mates! "Spat Beige" featured in finest English suede. The hat, a pompadour derby, worn posed on the head behind bangs or pompadour, is from Schoen Hats. Josef bag in a soft underarm with exquisite lucite and shell frame. A popular style in the line of Gold Seal Importers. Matching glove is Andre David's silhouette pull-on in 9-button length. A dressy ensemble for afternoon through evening.

The 1950s

"Casual Accessories for the Easter Parade" were highlighted in the February 1950 issue of "Handbags and Fashion Accessories," pages 42-43

"LARIATS are still the rage in jewelry and Monet makes this set with long necklace and matching shower earrings and bracelet. Josef's calf bag boasts two envelope sections, one with an attached coin purse near top and center pocket between. Kislav does the hand-stitched doeskin shortie with "V" trim at thumb. Fruit spray, a gay spring note is from Glamour Fashions."

The HANDBAGS column on page 69 of the same February 1950 "Handbags and Fashion Accessories" included this phot and description of a Josef LUCITE bag. It is a double lid picnic basket style.

"CANASTA" BASKET of mock shell opens on both sides. Mirror in one lid—fully lined with shirred pockets all around. Nine colors. Retails about eight dollars. By Josef

Spring 1955 Bags by Josef line is detailed on page 30 of the January issue of Handbags & Accessories, page 30.

"Josef puts pearl or gold on new bags. The spring handbag collection at Bags by Josef, takes on several new and important themes. The "Miraglo" (black plastic patent) collection stresses giant sized dramatic bags. The reverse trend is seen in dainty lady like bags in both Miraglo and calf, trimmed with mother-of-pearl and gold frame, or gold nuggets. A third theme plays up novelty shapes in new colors and combinations.

Underscored for early spring selling are Miraglo bags with cut-out handles. One is a big square and the other an oval frame style similar to the big fake-fur number of the fall. A large square bag with fa-cile opening has metal channels on squared corners. Slightly smaller but still ample are pouches in a dressier vein. One has a sunken frame with cushion of leather outlined in gold nuggets. A divided skirt effect is used on a fa-cile frame for a clutch or double handle bag that converts to shoulder strap.

The dainty mother-of-pearl set in gold, metal frames introduced last fall are used again on Miraglo and lustre calf in small pouches, and on a clutch. Other clutches have pearl or rhinestone locks. In this group are also enameled and gold frames. The novelty assortment includes fancy leathers such as plaid or striped calf, lustre calf and two-color leather bags worked in striped and polka dot effects. The latter is done in a big zippered tote type with huge polka dots of contrasting leather done with an underlay. A large barrel is worked in stitched stripes of two colors while several others use three hues. Red, white and blue combinations are particularly effective. These twotone bags are featured in washable cowhide to retail from $10.95 to around $18.50."

Page 32 of the same January 1955 issue includes this Red, white & Blue resort bag of Spring!

The front cover of the October 1955 issue of "Handbags & Accessories" featured this tailored black leather example of the Bags by Josef line.

The October 1955 issue of "Handbags & Accessories" provided guidence for buyers on styles for the upcoming Holiday season. (page 18)

Heading Highlight elegance for evening

Holiday time is party time. Provide a wide selection of dressy bags

CLUSTERED SEQUINS in floral shapes give a luminescent quality to satin lined, gold chain handled pouch. Turquoise, pink, hot red cut beads are used in group of bags, cosmetic cases, wallets, other accessories. From Josef

Accessory market round-up

"Josefs evening bags in classic shapes are covered with dazzling imported sequins. The variations achieved through their use is almost unending. Some of the more unusual types are etched sequins, star edged sequins, lustre sequins to match leathers, cup shaped courvette sequins, and sequins clustered in specific floral shapes. The overlapping of flat sequins gives the feeling of reptile in a small facile frame pouch. In another bag, vertical rows of sequins, pearls, and bugle beads alternate in an interesting striped pattern. Another group of bags uses ceylon beads with geometric sequin insets."

"Handbags & Accessories" October 1955, page 36

Gold Seal expanding

"Gold Seal Importers, Inc., makers of bags by Josef, have taken an additional floor in the building at 30 East 33rd Street, New York. Formerly the firm occupied the sixth floor, but as of September 1st it is also occupying the seventh floor.
Showrooms and offices on the sixth floor have been enlarged and redecorated to service buyers without undue delay. The seventh floor is devoted to a modern shipping plant, insuring prompt service on orders for all accounts of the firm." "Handbags & Accessories" October 1955, page 38

This unique round "Bulls Eye" bag graced the front cover of Handbags & Accessories for December 1955.

Vary your collection to meet day, evening, sport and dress needs.

Keep an eye on the future — continue to show resort bags now

"EVENING BAGS by Josef are interpreted in brocade flat clutch, left, topped by bar set with multicolored stones and in satin pouch with cameo clasp. Both satin lined" (Handbags & Accessories December 1955, page 17)

Bag makers were often asked to provide costume accessories to the film industry. The December 1955 issue of Handbags & Accessories covered one such collaboration with a full page article on page 36.

Fashion film features travel bags
Universal-International Newsreel release shows cover girls embarking for European holiday, carrying Handbags by Josef

A group of cover girls, embarking for a holiday in Europe, dressed in the finest of fashions and carrying handbags by Josef, was the theme of a recent fashion short released by Universal-International Newsreel and shown in over 10,000 theaters throughout the world. The film was directed by Viola Shefer, in charge of fashion publicity for Josef.

"MODELS CARRY from left: satchel resembling doctor's bag; drum major triangular striped bag; zippered striped model; nailhead studded rectangle; binocular bag; belted rectangle; belted bucket"

The film showed the models approaching the airport in a chauffeured car and mounting a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines plane for Europe. All carried imported leather travel bags, and wore Mr. John hats, long torso imported suits in a "carrying coals to Newcastle" theme. Shown for the first time was the new 1956 Royal Lancer custom convertible Dodge car. Les Trois Hirondelles, French fashions, formed a glamorous background for the imported handbags which the girls carried.

At THE TICKET COUNTER. Striped bag, left, complements striped long jacketed tweed suit; belted rectangle, right, worn with low-belted royal red tweed coat

Some of the models carried two bags, one for the travel necessities such as tickets, passports, etc.' and the other for cosmetics and personal effects. They each received roses when they boarded the plane.

"PET POODLES get a fond farewell from model who wears coat and beret of calf in leopard print and carries a bag in an unusual binocular shape."

Accessory market round-up

"Italian imports at Josef, 30 E. 33rd St., feature alternating panels of cowhide and suede. Other styles use colored suede squares in interesting ways. Bucket drawstrings, pouches and a circular type are some of the shapes. In dressy bags Forstman Suedera, a cashmere and wool blend, is used effectively in pouches with bronze bead, jet bead trims on imported frames. A satin-lined double bag is half-satin and half-velvet. Mother-of-pearl trims a gathered velvet shape, and combinations of amber with non-crock suede are also much in evidence. A metallic bead fabric, and a collection of bags beaded in France and set on imported frames appear in ornate floral patterns.'' (Handbags & Accessories June 1956, page 56)

RETIRING—Louie Blum, well loved friend in the handbag industry, recently with Vassar Imports, and his charming wife Carolyn of Josef handbags, are retiring to New Orleans, Louisiana, where they have a new home. Carolyn is a native of New Orleans. (December 1959 Handbags & Accessories, page 51)


Accordion designs are unusual and complex to make. This example was made in France of Bags by Josef and was designed by Roger Model. The bag measures 7.25 x 6.5 x 2.5" and expands to 3.5". It is valued at $850.

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Page last modified on September 13, 2011, at 07:08 PM