Enid Collins is one of the most collectable designers that has crossed my desk so far in my time slinging vintage, so you can imagine my excitement when I thought I’d bagged myself an original…
Best known for her jeweled, screen printed wooden handbags, Enid Collins made folk art mainstream by the 1960’s when her bags were featured in every major department store in the country¹. I learned more about the Texas-based designer and her company, Collins of Texas, after I stumbled upon this tote.
Although I found many similar horse and carriage designs, I couldn't for the life of me find any Enid Collins totes that matched this style.
I finally had to take a beat to see if someone would list a similar bag later on. Weeks turned into months and I still didn’t find anything. I was ready to throw in the towel when I finally came across Collecting Collins! I reached out via the contact form, and that’s when the very knowledgeable Laura Richardson broke the news to me:
“Souré was the main competitor to the original Collins of Texas screen printed handbags. Even though Enid started screen printing in 1956, she had to start copyrighting her handbags in 1961 (box bags), and 1963 (totes), to prevent Souré from stealing more designs.”
Alas, I am the proud owner of a Fenid Follins
In her lifetime, Enid designed at least 1,000 unique screen prints, of which only 766 are officially recognized by the U.S. Copyright Office. Between 1961 and 1972, Enid Collins personally copyrighted 742 designs with the U.S. Copyright Office — not including another 24 marked “EC” and copyrighted by Tandy — for the grand total of 766 designs.²
Photo: Ms. Collins in her studio in the late 1960s, surrounded by her work. Credit: Jeep Collins via The New York Times article Is It Time for an Enid Collins Revival?
Richardson also sent me a list of some of the Collins designs bootlegged by Souré before 1961, which include:
Sea Garden (both in Richardson’s collection)
Strawberry Roan (both in Richardson’s collection)
Carriage Trade (the design on my imposter)
Signs (dangerous curves, yield, etc.)
This is the authentic Enid Collins carriage trade design on a canvas tote:
I believe the reason I was having such a hard time finding more information about the Souré scandal is probably because there is not a permanent Enid Collins museum collection nor does she have one of her own, according to Collecting Collins.
For other collectors, pickers, and the like; Collecting Collins is a great resource for Enid Collins handbags, featuring a design timeline, how to value your Enid Collins handbag, so many photos of numerous designs, and a bunch of other fun stuff.
THIS IS NOT A PLUG OR AN AD, I simply want to share the hard work of Laura Richardson and her expertise from 10+ years of collecting the designer.
I started dealing vintage because I enjoy learning about the culture of decades past, which is led by the things I find while picking. In addition, one the goals I had in starting my own website is to be a resource for other dealers in the vintage community.
When I have as much trouble pinpointing an item as I did this tote, I admittedly have a hard time moving on until I do. I really wouldn’t have been able to solve this one without the awesome Collecting Collins resource and 10/10 would recommend visiting collectingcollins.com to learn more!
Another resource and online museum:
A “purse anthropology” project to discover the work of American fashion designer and folk artist Enid Collins
Footnotes & Citations
Photo of Ms. Collins in her studio in the late 1960's surrounded by her work courtesy of Jeep Collins via the New York Times article Is It Time for an Enid Collins Revival?