Shopping Bags


The paper bags used by department stores usually carried the store's logo and were designed using the signature color associated with a particular store.  Large, handled shopping bags, which could be bought for, say, 15 cents from a dispenser near escalators, might be bigger versions of the standard bag, or, as in the case of Bloomingdale's, specially designed bags which were works of art in their own right.

Store shopping bags definitely held their own cachet.  To walk about town carrying a bag from a certain store was at one time a real status symbol.  One commentator on the internet stated that, before going home, they always went to the bargain basement, and purchased a small piece of jewelry for $.50, just to have a prestigious store's bag to carry home on the bus!


The bags illustrated below are graphic reproductions made from various sources.  If you can supply scans or photos of the bags of the stores included in the museum, from the period of 1960s through the mid-1970s, they will be considered for inclusion in the colorful bag exhibit.

The Broadway
Los Angeles, California

Long Beach, California

Oakland, California

The Emporium
San Francisco, California

Marshall Field & Company
Chicago, Illinois

Jordan Marsh
Boston, Massachusetts

Worcester, Massachusetts

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit, Michigan

Jackson, Michigan

Lansing, Michigan

Courtesy of Zyg Olds from Lansing

B. Altman & Co.
New York City, New York
The M. O'Neil Co.
Akron, Ohio
The A. Polsky Co.
Akron, Ohio

Joseph Horne Co.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Salt Lake City, Utah

Toronto, Ontario, Canada


  1. I would love to add the Worcester department store "Denholms" to your museum. What information would you like from me, and in what format? I have pictures, a directory and a brief history.

    Thank you for your comment and a possible link .

  2. How about adding exhibits for boxes and credit cards?

  3. Did you receive my comment about B.Altman shopping bags? When I hit "preview" it went away.

  4. I guess you didn't receive my comment.

    I have 3 B.Altman shopping bags. One is plain brown with the store logo. The other two (one large and one small) are Christmas bags. They are light in color with a beautiful Christmas wreath of fruits, in the middle of which are the words "B. Altman's Williamsburg Christmas".

    I wish there were a physical museum where the bags could be saved and used in displays.

  5. L.S. Ayers in Indianapolis used the "Spode" Christmas Tree on their shopping bags and boxes for many years. I still have a box from that era.

    What a wonderful store that was!

  6. Bloomingdales had (and have today also) the brown bag...big brown bag, medium brown bag and small brown bag. They used to have various colors (I think by size) and also had special promotional bags during the Fall.
    B Altman in the 70's had a white bag with their name in logo as either blue or maroon.
    Lord & Taylor had the red American rose (American signature)

  7. I have a multitude of Foley's shopping bags. They were tailored to the seasons and were unique in themselves. I also have Joske's and Sakowitz.

    Richard in Houston

  8. Today the Macy's bag is PLASTIC

    1. Macy's still offers paper shopping bags, but you have to ask for one.

  9. I have what I think is an old GERTZ JAMAICA NEW YORK credit card?
    It is small, resembles a dog-tag, and is inserted into a brown leather case. OR maybe it is an old employee identification card. The card or dog-tag is made of metal. Can anymore tell me more about this item??

  10. To Anonymous Re: Gertz credit card, Yes, what you have is an actual credit "plate" as they used to call it. We have one or two here maybe from Gertz, and A&S. It was considered fairly prestigious back then to sport one of these methods of payment. I do also have a fairly large collection of now-defunct department store shopping bags.

    JMF Bay Shore, NY

  11. The B. Altman & Co Williams burg Christmas Shopping bag was a prize possession... there was no finer bag in all the land. So classic and so beautiful.

  12. I have some fabulous F. & R. Lazarus and Sons Christmas shopping bags, including the infamous cobalt-blue christmas treat bag! Doug Ramsey...

  13. I have several paper shopping bags from Kaufmans Department Store in the Scranton, PA area which is now closed. The bags are various colors and holiday bags too. In addition I have a Wanamaker bag from the old Globe Store in Scranton, PA. The store was bought out by John Wanamaker but eventually closed up in the 80s.

  14. I have a large collection -- about 200-- about 90% from Dayton's in Minneapolis-- most from the 1980's. Some very famous ones. All in great condition. Looking to sell. Know of any auction houses who may be interested?

  15. I remeber working at MF Mayfair location housewares department in the early 1990's. All of our customers insisted on their wares packaged in the iconic green paper shopping bag with handles.

  16. Since you have an exhibit on bags, how about starting one on department store boxes?

  17. I love the B.Altman's bag. It brought back warm, fuzzy memories of my grandmother. She always shopped there. We always teased her that she kept them in business! I remember going there with her many times. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  18. Does anyone have any Bloomingdale's shopping bags from the 70s and 80s? There were many to celebrate the various in-store events.

  19. I have a collection of about 50 bloomingdale's bags from the 60s, 70s and 80s - they're amazing. am trying to photograph them each individually (both sides) and then post for all to see.

  20. I have a scan of the bag design used at Hemphill-Wells in the 60's - 80's. Please let me know how I can get it to you.

  21. Thank you, Rob!

    You may e-mail it to

    I appreciate your help a lot - my goal is to get a "typical" bag design from every store I feature.

    By the way, I am looking for an image of the San Angelo store from the time when it was actually Hemphill-Wells. I don't have access to the San Angelo newspapers, but perhaps some day I will, and will be able to find one.

    Thanks again and Merry Christmas!


  22. I have a few bags and boxes from a Quincy Massachusetts department specialty store where i worked for six years in the 1960's. the store was Remicks of Quincy. it was owned and operated by Frank Remick, the Very Posh father of the actress Lee Remick. I will scan and send.
    Unique, upscale, very creative, elegant. It's bags were cherished and reused by many as sort of a badge of status. the boxes were not fold ups but were solid and beautiful, the logo appeared on the inside cover. which was white gloss with the scripted logo in metallic gold. the bottom was metallic gold and white stripes. you could identify Remicks by just the gold and white stripes. I wish there could be a history because it was truly a beautiful place ahead of it's competition. Magnificiant Mechanical Christmas Windows, hand made costumes based on a story like some are today. Advertising was illustrated in full page advertisements. Especially unique was an add, full page, published when big city department stores were opening branch stores, the add showed only a triple ball topiary tree with the caption,"Remicks, the store with no branches". coordinated with the add the store was decked out with topiary trees and live song birds in, antique cages, a springtime trim. anybody remember?

  23. have bags and boxes from hess's department store in allentown, pa. let me know if you want scans.

  24. Our company sold 99% of all these stores. If I had a shopping bag from every one we sold I could wallpaper my entire home!!!

  25. I have a couple of pics of some A&S shopping bags from the 80's that I could send you they are mainly with the final logo that the store used and I also I have the final logo pic too if u need that the put into the A&S gallery

  26. Anyone interested in acquiring a bunch of department store shopping bags? Email me at and put "SHOPPING BAGS" in the subject line.

  27. I have six brown paper bags from Bullock's Pasadena, CA. I believe the store closed in the mid-90's, the building was built in 1947 and is now in the historical register. Macy's is in the building now.

    Does anyone know the value of these bags if I were to sell them?


  28. I too would LOVE to see Boxes as others have commented.
    Great website you have here - Thanks!

  29. This is favorite site of mine over the years. My mom has hatboxes form the 50's and 60's from NYC stores...Bonwit Teller, Saks 5th Ave, Lord and Taylor, Oppenheim Collins, and Brooklyn' s great store Martin's...and the hats too. Those were the white glove days indeed.

  30. Cleaned out a lot of bambergers bags from my grandma's house in 2011...wanted them but had no room....

  31. I use to keep shopping bags as souvenirs during the 80's. Carson Pirie Scott, Marshall Field's, Wieboldt's, Macy's, Bonwit Teller, I. Magnin, Liberty House, Lord & Taylor, Neiman-Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Hecht's, Woodward & Lothrop, Kaufmann's, Strawbridge & Clothier, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale's, Spiess, Madigan's, Stern's, Abraham & Straus, L.S. Ayre's, Lazarus, Garfinckel's, Gimbel's. Over the years when I was moving a lot, they were lost during transitional moves. Those were the heydays of fun shopping.

  32. BAK: Between Anonymous (8-11-14) and myself we could supply you with shopping bags from the mid 70s-forward

  33. I have the old Marshall Field's green plastic bags when I used to shop on Madison/State building in Chicago before it became Macy's. Anyone interested email me: You will not regret it!!! Collectors reach out as soon as possible.

  34. Collector's interested in the Marshall Field's green plastic bags given away when purchasing, have a few left from those wonderful days shopping on Madison and State St. in Chicago.

  35. Bags from BRAMSON inc in Chicago and suburbs were color coded by department. White bags and boxes were used for salon and better dress departments, but each other department had it's own color. Little Treasures, was the jewelry department ( olive green) Private Lives department was the lingerie section and their bag was pink. Sportswear departments were yellow and orange, etc. In the 70's a stripe bag using all the colors was adopted and used throughout the store. I will forward pics to bakgraphics to be posted on this sie.

  36. Intrested in purchasing VINTAGE HAT BOXES, BAGS, BOXES from department stores. Preferably bags before 1980.

    If anyone has any bags available for sale (I would need a bulk amount 15-20) please email me at

  37. Hi,

    I'm working on a TV show where our main character works at B. Altman in 1958. I'm trying to find out what the shopping bags looked like in the day and if they used any smaller bags for cosmetics purchases. Any research help would be greatly appreciated.


  38. Jessie - I "eyeballed" the B. Altman bag above from the film "Fitzwilly" (1967) starring Dick Van Dyke. Usually department stores had a typical paper bag that they offered in a variety of sizes. The shelves below the cash register (often huge ones) is where they would store the bags, and an employee was usually in charge of circulating through the store with a cart and replenishing the bags at each register location. The handle shopping bags could be of an alternate design. I know that B. Altman had a Williamsburg style bag one Christmas, but that was out of the area you are searching. I just bought (eBay) a small 5" X 9" J. L. Hudson bag that could have been used for small cosmetics purchases. Perhaps a reader could help a bit with more particulars. Altman's "corporate" color appears to have been red, and though their credit cards were pink with a red logo, the bag in the film is a light blue - unless I am totally mistaken.

  39. I have a Christmas 1980 Bloomingdale's paper shopping bag with an exceptional Art Deco design on both sides. Vibrant colors of Red, Turquoise and Black on a white bag with the New York skyline running across the top and the words "Christmas 1980" printed in red. Anyone interested in acquiring this bag, please send an e-mail with the subject line saying "Shopping Bag" to I will scan a photo to send to you.

  40. I have a couple large Christmas shopping bags from Lazarus, Marshall Fields and Nordstrom in really great shape. they are from the early 80's. Does anyone need these? Beautiful bags of yesterday.

  41. Hello Looking to purchase NYC Department store shopping bags 1950's in great shape

  42. Totally forgot about purchasing bags from a dispenser until I ready this. Thanks for a trip down memory lane and for this website for that matter!

  43. Good day,

    Do you know the timeline range of when Jordan Marsh's bags were being circulated?



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