Every now and then we get an item in our shop that is not only beautiful, but is even more special due to the history associated with it. This lovey handbag is definitely one of those items! Made in Belgium in the 1930’s, it is done in a delicate chiffon overlayed on satin, both in shades of cream and accented with gold beads. In addition to it’s obvious beauty, this handbag was originally sold at Abraham & Straus department store and has the name of Abraham & Strauss on the label. It measures 4.5″ x 6″. Abraham & Straus Department Store was founded in 1893, when Mr. Abraham joined forces with the co-owner of R.H. Macy and Company, Isidor Straus, to create a lavishly ornate department store which would transform downtown Brooklyn. Occupying an entire city block bordered by Fulton Street, Livingston Street, Hoyt Street, and Gallatin Place, the Abraham & Strauss department store was a glittering shopping experience that was the height of luxury and elegance. Brooklyn’s finest shoppers could pull into the store itself by horse and buggy through a Porte cochere entrance on Livingston Street. White-gloved attendants ran the bronze elevators. The entrance way on Fulton Street led onto an interior courtyard that soared up to the sky lights above. Dapper gentlemen and society ladies could shop to their hearts’ content, from the fur salon and art gallery to the gourmet food hall in the basement. An elaborate system of pulleys hanging from the carved ceilings whisked shoppers’ money into the store’s silver vault. Abraham & Straus was so glamorous it even had live mannequins in the store front windows.
Now, for a few lesser known and more personal details, let’s move on with our love story…
On April 15th, 1912, the beautiful luxury liner the RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic, taking 1527 lives. Two of the passengers that lost their lives that day were Isidor and Ida Straus. By all accounts from friends, the couple were very much in love, sharing letters daily when her husband traveled, as part of his duties as a U.S. Representative for New York.
On that fateful night, first class passengers, Isidor and Ida Strauss were directed to lifeboat eight. However, the aging Isidor refused to board the lifeboat while there were younger men being prevented from boarding. Ida also refused to get into the lifeboat saying, “Where you go, I go”. Her maid Ellen was put into the lifeboat and Ida gave Ellen her fur coat, saying she had no further use for it. Isidor and Ida were last seen together on deck holding hands before a wave swept them both into the sea. Eyewitnesses described the scene as the “most remarkable exhibition of love and devotion.”
Such a lovely, sad and deeply inspiring love story, punctuated by one of the twentieth century’s most memorable tragedies.