Bag Lady

Today in the post i received a lovely original Caro Nan handbag and thought i would share it with you. These handpainted wooden bags were made in the South of America in the 1960s and were a must have bag at the time.

They are really cute, folky works of art and make you really nostalgic to time of individuality and not massed produced clothing.

The most famous design was rows of different shops around the base depicting different towns. These were often made especially for the town/shop that was selling them.

Imagine owning a bag that showed your town……They usually had check material lining inside, adding to that home made feel.

Some had mirrors inside the lid.

They all were signed Caro Nan inside the bag along with the name of the shop they were sold in. This one was from the University Community Hospital Gift shop.

A great find is one with an original cent stuck on the lid showing the age of the bag. This one dates from1969.

This one rarely has the signature on the outside as well as inside.

These will look gorgeous this summer……look in Your Vintage Wardrobe section of the shop to see more. Wood is totally on trend this season so bag yourself an original!


I love


  1. Beth
    26 October 2010 / 9:37 am

    Hi. I have been searching for the history of Caro-Nan handbags for a long time without much success. This is the first time I have read that the bags were made in South of America. Do you have any more details about the company that manufactured these great purses? If you can provide any info, please email me at

    Thank you!

    • 26 October 2010 / 12:49 pm

      Thanks for your comments! They were made in the south of north USA…i love them, so folksy and handmade looking!

      • Beth
        27 October 2010 / 7:00 am

        Thanks for the quick reply. I also love these handbags.
        By chance, do you know which southern state the manufacture was located? I’m thinking it may of been Mississippi, but not sure.

  2. Roxy
    8 January 2011 / 11:18 pm

    I know I’m late but Mississippi may be right…

    This may sound crazy but I used to work at a thrift store in lake Charles, Louisiana and an older lady used to come in allllll the time with these purses. She had a different one each tine. She would buy jewerly & little odds & ends saying she was gonna make more purses…

    I told her how much I loved them and she said she has been making them for years & years thus why she has sooo many of them.

    A week later she brought in two vintage ones she claimed to make herself, and gave them to me.

    I never thought to google the name Caro Nan inside the purses.

    So if this lady did indeed make them like she claims she’s Caro Nan…. And she’s living in Louisiana…or she may just be a nut job. But I love the purses she gave me. One is Halloween themed the other a typical city/shop scape caro Nan is known for.

    • Samuel Glisan
      21 May 2011 / 10:11 pm

      They were made in Jackson, Mississippi by my sister-in-law and her friend.

  3. RR
    22 May 2011 / 2:22 am

    Caro-Nan was based out of Jackson, Mississippi.

    Caro= Carolyn McDaniel
    Nan= Nancy Steele

    The two owned and operated the store in the 60s and manufactured, distributed, and sold their purses with the help of housewives needing to make some money at the time,were hard working, and possessed a creative mindset in MS at the time. Nancy’s daughter Anne Steele Riley had the honor of placing the lucky penny on certain bags during the mid 60s, adding a unique touch to the bag before they were hand signed Caro-Nan on the inside and later occasionally on the outside as well. They became very unique and popular must have items and began to circulate to specific shops around the State and then around the Nation.

    The two currently still reside in Jackson but have not made purses for some time now. These are truly very unique and timeless pieces. I grew up seeing them around Nancy’s house for ever and always knew that they were quite unique

    • 22 May 2011 / 11:55 am

      Thanks for letting us all know this…I love these bags and have alas now sold 2 out of the three bags featured here!
      I have kept the natural wood one with all the houses around the edge…..its gorgeous!

    • Victoria Swift
      26 February 2012 / 6:55 pm

      Thank you for telling us more about the history of the Caro-Nan handbags, I have one and I am constantly getting compliments on it! Please tell Carolyn and Nancy they were ahead of their time and very resourceful!

      I am curious to know where did the ladies get the baskets themselves?

      Thank you so much, I love this blog!!!

      Kind regards,
      Victoria Swift

  4. Patsy Robertson Shattle
    10 June 2011 / 1:18 am

    Thanks For All The Info Re: The Bags..I Have Several & Have Always Wanted To Know The History…

  5. Minerva
    17 July 2011 / 12:56 pm

    I have begun collecting them as well. I have one that has a penny on top with the date 1957. The material inside looks like it could be from the 50s and so do the decals. Is it possible that this is one of the first ones they made?

    • 19 July 2011 / 4:44 pm

      Gosh that’s the earliest I’ve heard of! Not sure if they were made that early as sometimes coins can be changed.,,sounds fab tho!

  6. gayle goodwin
    31 December 2011 / 2:03 am

    I read an article once in a magazine about the caro-nan bags so I immediately recognized one when I saw it in my local thrift shop! Mine is painted white and the top is almost exactly like the unpainted one pictured with “What’s new?” on the top and shops around the bottom with words around the top edges of the sides….mine is NOT signed anywhere and the penny is missing. I want to replace it with the appropriate year penny. Any guess as to what year it might be? If not, I will use the year of my birth and enjoy it!

    • 1 January 2012 / 2:57 pm

      Hi Most of them were from the 60s…I think putting a penny/cent from the year you were born is a lovely idea. Most important thing tho is to use it and love it (and spread the word of Caro Nan!) Kate x

  7. Tony M
    30 December 2012 / 12:40 am

    Can anyone verify when these ladies STOPPED making these purses? I have one from Coronado, CA with a 2002 penny on it. Did they create bags w/scenes from as far away as California? And I suppose the 2002 penny could be a replacement, but would like to know when the last purses were made. The bag certainly LOOKS authentic and ‘vintage’, and inside is signed “Made Especially for The Ruffled Duck

  8. Heather
    2 February 2013 / 6:43 am

    The penny on mine is 1945. It has Oklahoma landmarks and lists first boy scout troops on the storefronts. I have tried to find anything once this but hit dead ends. Did they produce any around that time?

    • Your vintage life
      2 February 2013 / 9:25 am

      Feels a bit early but who knows! The penny could have been added at the time or later… Wish I knew more sorry!

      • Carolyn McDaniel
        15 July 2013 / 2:49 am

        Loved your comments on Carl nan bags – my partner [Nancy] and I made the bags in the late 60’s and 70’s. What fun we had!

        We had orders from all over the U.S. and Hawaii. Most people have kept those bags because of sentimental value.

        • Merian Burkett
          14 September 2013 / 8:17 pm

          Is there anyway I can check to see if a purse I bought is one of yours? Were yours always signed? Are you on facebook or have a website? Would be great to see photos of purses. A facebook page would be a great place to have people post photos of purses they find.

  9. Brigitte LaBorde
    10 March 2016 / 10:40 pm

    Kate, that one post from Carolyn in 2013 is great. Have you kept up with this lady. I would love to know if she made Louisiana purses. Thanks, Brigitte

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