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In this micro-history by VFG member Wendy Dager, you’ll learn that on April 1, 1944, the American people were subject to a federal excise tax that encompassed a large number of items the US government had deemed luxuries. Among them were handbags, a necessity that cost consumers an additional 20% of their retail value. Twenty years of FET had an enormous impact on much more than the pocketbook. An early form of today’s “pink tax,” it was placed on numerous women-centric items, including jewelry, furs and face creams. This tax affected industries, feminism, politics and journalism, and forever altered the designs of mid-century purses, which remain a fashion staple.

A writer of everything from children’s educational programming to humorous mystery novels, Daeger is curator of the online handbag museum The Vintage Purse Museum. You can find her “Pain in the Purse” blog, with bonus photos and information to go with the book HERE.

Buy Wendy Dager’s book Pain in The Purse: The Tax That Changed Handbag History on Amazon