Coveted Bag: Straeter Lite-On Bag

A bag’s exterior is what we judge when deciding if it worth our money. Is it appealing? Well made? Suitable for your needs? However sometimes what appears to be average, becomes extraordinary when we look inside. When I first saw this bag, I was intrigued. Then I saw the interior and that’s what captured me fully. A designer that I have never heard of before nor does there appear to be much information available.

As far as I can tell, the bag is called a Lite- On (the reason for the name will become clear soon). Created in 1953 by L.F.W Straeter, an Amsterdam based designer. As far as the exterior goes, this style of bag is not unique. Stunning but a style that has been duplicated many many time. A reasonably sized bag, made with sumptuous leather and a 24 carat gold frame and matching push top closure. An insignia on the front depicting a kind of lantern.So far so good. What makes the bag so special is the stylish compartments that include a swing mirror,  allocated places of lipstick, perfume and a light. Yes, you read that correctly.  Straeter had the ground breaking idea that since women need to be able to find loose change, lipstick etc and often in areas of poor lighting. Why not provide a light source from with the bag itself? As charmed as the Lite- On is, one must wonder how easy it would be change such a delicate light fitting.

Contrary to popular myth, this is NOT a Salvador Dali nor an Elsa Schiaparelli design. Why Straeter seems to have joined Anne Marie of Paris in the handbag Bermuda Triangle, I cannot be sure. It does not appear that Straeter made any other bags except this one unique style.

straeter vintage bag

straeter vintage interior

straeter crocodile

inside croc straeter

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15 comments

  1. Very interesting from the standpoint that it was hell to find good bags in the Netherlands when I lived there…and this fabulous gem came from Amsterdam, hmm? Interesting.

  2. I’m a longtime vintage clothing collector and curator of an online handbag museum. I just learned about the Straeter bag, which is how I found your site. Your comment about “handbag Bermuda Triangle” is one of the best things I’ve ever read! I have an Anne-Marie champagne bucket bag, so I know exactly what you mean.

    1. Thank you Wendy, so pleased to be able to spread the word of Handbags. You are a very lucky lady to be able curate a bag museum. Especially since you own an Anne-Marie champagne bag, so envious! Will try to keep up to your standards.

      1. I found one! Not in the greatest shape, but we’re working on getting it fixed up a bit. I also read, as you noted, about the alleged Schiaparelli/Dali connection, in which some people (such as http://www.victoriastowecollection.com/ladylike-30s-purse-collection) refer to it as a Lanterne bag, made in the 1930s. I posted a 1950s video on The Vintage Purse Gallery’s Facebook page, in which the narrator says the bag is a Dutch-English collaboration. I asked the official Schiaparelli Twitter account about it, but I suspect they won’t answer. There’s also this: http://thedali.org/exhibit/dali-and-schiaparelli/, so I sent them a tweet as well. If I find out anything else, I’ll let you know. Meanwhile, I must tell you it was quite a task to remove that enormous vintage battery (which tested as working!) from its case. Now to figure out where to find comparable bulbs.

      2. Excellent work, well done! Where did you find it? What colour is it? Believe that they only came in black or brown. Please let me know how you get on. How did you manage to get the battery? That must have been a difficult and delicate process.

      3. Ebay, which I refer to as the Scourge of Mankind. (Destructor of savings accounts, ruiner of households, causer of insomnia.) It’s brown suede. There’s a green one on Etsy right now, going for over $3,000, which is far from what I paid for my poor, injured one. I was able to remove the battery because I am married to someone who can do these things well (and who has not yet realized I have succumbed to the Scourge of Mankind–or realizes and loves/tolerates me anyway). We still haven’t figured out why it’s not lighting up. Could be the connection, which consists of a metal pin that’s manipulated by the two buttons on the sides of the clasp. I’ll keep you posted.

      4. A high price, but hopefully it will be money well spent. Forgot to mention that I actually follow your Facebook page (on my private account), a grand job you are doing. Great that your husband can help you. X

  3. Hi I’ve got two of these bags both needing batteries what battery do I need would be most grateful if you would reply.
    Many thanks Michelle.

    1. Hi Michelle, unfortunately I have never seen this bag up close so I cannot advise. However if you scroll up this post, you will see a few comments from a lady called Wendy. She has one herself and her husband is an electrician, so she is the best person to help you. Good luck!

  4. Not sure if can help regarding the proper battery, but she can email me at info@vintagepursegallery.com and I’ll do my best. By the way, the Dali Museum responded to my tweet and said they have no info whatsoever on the bag. Interesting! Nothing from Schiaparelli, but I sent an email to the Tassen Museum in Amsterdam, since Straeter was from the Netherlands. I’ll let you know if I hear back.

    1. Thanks Wendy. Great that the Dali museum got back to you.

      1. Will be interesting to here from Schiaparelli and the Tassen museums. Assume that you will include all this detective work on your site. So exciting to be able to solve the riddle of Straeter bag.

  5. What fascinates me the most is why so many people seemingly have its origins so very wrong. As you so wonderfully said, it’s the handbag Bermuda Triangle. Or perhaps the Internet version of one of those ancient games of Telephone. (Yep, I’m old.) I’m hoping the Tassen Museum can tell me if Straeter left any relatives in the area that I can possibly talk to. Another thing I learned about him: he was involved in a lawsuit in 1960. The document was in Dutch, but even after using online translation, I couldn’t figure out what it was about. I’m thinking maybe copyright infringement, since he seemed very concerned about the bag’s patent being solely his, even though, for the European version, he collaborated with an English company. I think my Straeter Lite-On is the American one. I will post more on my website when and if I can piece this together.

  6. Update on the Straeter Lite-On. Still some mystery, but I did find out a few things. http://vintagepursegallery.blogspot.com/2017/05/special-post-1950s-straeter-lite-on.html

    1. Thank you Wendy, am very impressed with how much information you have gathered. The photos inside are glorious, very rude of Schiaparelli to not even respond. Your theory about copyrighting could hold weight. Please let me know if there are anymore updates.

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