VINTAGE AFRICAN HANDBAGS
The Maryn has acquired 11 African handbags, ranging from finely woven Taitas to travel-friendly Baobabs, from avid collector Lilly Beecher. Beecher first began traveling to Africa during the mid-1960s for philanthropic reasons. At the time, West Africa was suffering from immense drought and lack of food, with many dying from hunger. During that initial trip, Beecher went to Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Togo, and worked with an organization dropping food from small planes over Timbuktu.
Then in the late ’60s, Beecher went to East Africa and purchased her first Kiondo bag in a small open market in a village. The weaving of Kiondos—sisal totes that are created by women in and around Kitui province in Eastern Kenya—is a traditional skill often handed down from mother to daughter.
“I bought my first Kiondo in 1967, and I still have it in perfect condition.I fell in love with the earthy coloring, the refinement of weaving.”
After those first two visits, Beecher abandoned her profession to found L.B.I. Inc, which imports ancient African art and antique masks, as well as handmade decorative creations. Since the early ’70s, she has traveled to East Africa at least three to four times a year, and her collection of bags has expanded as a result. But she’s recently begun parting with her collection because of the cost of the space to store them. “It is difficult to give up any part of a collection, knowing that one will never be made in this wonderful quality,” Beecher explains. “It is an art, and some of the women were exceptional in their artistry.”