To you, they may just be pieces of plastic, but for Angela Clarke, her bags are her ‘children’, and some are even worth hundreds of pounds.
Angela, from Aberdare, Wales, stores an impressive 10,000 of them in a purpose-built warehouse at her husband’s factory.
She has been building her collection for 40 years, since she was 11 years old.
It started in 1976 when Angela, now 55, and her family were getting ready for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
She recalls: ‘Everybody was flying union flags everywhere and everything was lavishly decorated, more than we’ve seen in the last few Jubilees.
‘So most stores carry out bags with union or Queen flags.
‘I just thought they were brilliant, so my mum encouraged me to get them so we could decorate our windows. It’s a pretty cheap way to get a union flag and get it in your window. ‘
Angela also remembers her father returning home in a black aircraft carrier with a silver-rimmed woman on his tour of Jersey with a present in it.
She liked the bag so much that she hung it in her room like a poster, and her collection grew from there.
Angela says they’re both a pocket-friendly hobby and focus on easy-to-find items.
In a year she had a collection of 200 pieces, with some from stores as varied as FW Woolworth now no longer available.
There was a popular BBC children’s program airing at that time called The Color Swap Shop. The show asked if anyone had unusual hobbies or collected anything unusual, so Angela wrote a letter and told her all about her handbag.
She ended up traveling from Aberdare to London to perform on the show and said her collection ‘has been snowing ever since.’
“The BBC had hundreds of bags sent to me,” she said. ‘I have designer mailed bags signed by the designers, bags sent in from House of Lords by someone who actually took a House of Lords bag from the gift shop , sign it and send it to me with the same letter.
‘Someone went overseas for the Olympics and remembered I went to the Swap Shop and made contact, so I started getting bags from abroad. This was a time when package holidays weren’t as popular as they are now.
‘Aberdare is a small place, everyone knows everyone and everyone is going on vacation and bringing back a handbag for me, so I started getting bags from all over the world.’
A woman sent Angela a collection of small bags her mother used in her sweets shop in the 50s and 60s, along with recipes for homemade sweets that used to be stored inside. in them.
Angela quickly began to feel that her collection was becoming a historical canvas.
She said: ‘I’ve had Tesco for many years, right from Silver Jubilee. I had Asda bags when it first started and from places from abroad like JCPenney.
‘I’ve had Disney for many years. You can hardly afford a Disney bag now as they have closed all the stores.
‘I have a bag containing the Twin Towers in New York. It was sent to me. I have a handbag from Hong Kong when it was a British Empire territory. ‘
Her oldest handbag is from 1954 – a pink and white striped bag used to cover her mother’s face when she married that year.
Angela says: ‘I shouldn’t have added any more to my collection, but I couldn’t resist.
‘If I see something and think it’s out of the ordinary, I add that to the collection. I used to collect everything different, but now I only add something unusual or special like in Jubilees. ‘
To accommodate all 10,000 bags, Angela and her husband built a space in her husband’s factory.
Angela said: “He already knows me, we have been married for 47 years.
Even though it’s been many years since Angela joined the Color Swap Shop, the memories are still fresh in everyone’s mind.
She said: ‘Even now, I meet friends, and we’re in our 50s, and when they introduce me to other people our age, they always say ‘you miss Angela because of her. he was on the Swap Shop”. “
Despite the fact that vintage plastic bags can sell for £225, Angela says she’ll never leave her collection
“They are still mine, they are my children,” she said, “but I joke with the kids that what they do with them is up to them.”
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/01/16/woman-spends-life-collecting-10000-carrier-bags-they-are-my-babies-15927833/ Woman spends her life collecting 10,000 shipping bags: 'They're my babies'