Found in a Vintage Purse: The Mystery Letter

One of my favorite things is finding hidden gems in purses, pockets, and cubbies of things I bring home. I find some very strange and interesting items and decided to start a new blog series documenting them to share with you!

Today I was looking through a box of pocketbooks for Autumn and pulled out one I’d forgotten about having. Cool! It’s like shopping in the luxury of my own home and not spending anything else to boot!


The little envelope is from the Elizabethton Floral Company in Elizabethton, Tennessee, formerly located at 424-426 Elk Avenue. It has aged tape over the addressee, but it either says “Bride” or “Prude”. I’m going to bank on Bride, but I’d like to think someone was so bold as to send flowers addressed to someone as “Prude”!


Inside was a tightly folded piece of generic notebook paper with a handwritten letter in pencil. The writing is cursive and looks masculine. Unfortunately the paper is quite brittle and the pencil is starting to fade.


Here is the transcript, all spelling and punctuation is as it appears on the original:

Dear Nell,

     Maybe you think I have done a lot of things that isn’t right for a Christian.. and I know I have my self. I’ve been thinking about speaking to you for sometime, and mentioned it to Jean but, I couldn’t pick up enough courage until Sunday night.

     Forget all that has been done and said if “Possible” I’m sure I can – and forgive to. And if I’ve said a lot of things. I’m sorry maybe I was mad when I said them. Just forget it all, because I have. We can be friends again that is if you care to. I feel so glad to know you aren’t mad at me. Please I’ll try to be nicer to you if you wish to be friends.


That’s it.
It just ends like that. Yours.


I need to know! Did you send this with flowers or tuck it in an envelope from a keepsake drawer. Did you make up? Who is Jean? WHO is Nell?

I may be able to shed light on one of those questions.
Last year, I purchased a large lot of goodies from an auction in Elizabethon and the name Nell is one I have found throughout several boxes. I know nothing of the person herself, just artifacts that I believe to be associated directly with her. Although I do not recall purchasing a purse at that sale, it’s possible. It’s just as possible I picked it up elsewhere in the area.  Of course, as I make my way through them, I’ll share if I find out more.

A Guide: Date Naming Your Items

A little note from me to you.

I get asked often, both online and by those around me things like “What’s the difference between retro and vintage?” and “Is this really an antique?” The vernacular in my world can be really confusing to outsiders (I say that lovingly). Especially when you are bombarded at the mall with signs in stores and online that advertise MOD, vintage, retro clothes with only a narrow few followed by the word style. In order to clarify some of that for you I’m going to give you a quick and dirty guide to the terminology.

We’ll start with the basics.

Antique: Generally used to describe an item of 80-100 years or older. Associated with a certain quality standard.

Vintage: To be used for items 20 years old or older.

Retro: Any item assuming distinct characteristics of a true vintage item.

A little more complex. These are the two I see most commonly misused.

Midcentury/ Midcentury Modern: Exactly as it sounds. Items, typically not in reference to clothing, from the mid 20th century. With a certain group of characteristics that span from 1950 to the mid 60s.  At this time, all items that are Midcentury are vintage.

Mod: This is a style. Typically associated with bold, geometric shapes and/or colour-blocking.  Most recognizable as 1960s pop culture fashion, but an acceptable term for currently produced items with these characteristics.

Finally, where people seem to get so very confused is modern manufactured clothing and items.  This is where -style and -like come into play most often. 

Vintage-style/Antique-style: If an item is new, but resembles, with or without intent of mimicking, an item from a previous era. This could be used as well with specific eras, fashion eras, or influential groups. For example “1940s style” , “Edwardian-style”, or “Flapper-style”.

An item can be both Retro AND Vintage at the same time: In the 1970s, there was a resurgence in 1940s style clothing. The 1980s was host to 1950s inspired fashions. (See what goes around does come around!) Today items like these are both retro; because it took inspiration from a previous era, and vintage; because they are greater than 20 years old.

Modern Vintage: This is a newer term that many vintage loving ladies (and I’m sure some gents) may be familiar with. For those of us that are handy with a needle and thread and put it to use on a vintage pattern with authentic fabric for the period  in question, these new creations are vintage with the exception of the time of their assembly. It goes the same for jewelry and other accessories. You have a stash of bakelite from the 30s-50s, they’re all blanks, and you create a brooch using only vintage findings. This is vintage bakelite, but a new creation. This term is arguably the most controversial of those listed, and understandably.

Do you have a term you would like explained or defined?
Did this clear up any confusion for you? Create a new question?

As always, I’d love your comments and feedback!