Mesh bags are slinky—and deceptively tough—purses made out of the same sort of metal links used in armor. In the late 1800s, the medieval look was all the rage, so chainmail-like coin purses that attached to a chatelaine were stylish accessories for Victorian ladies.

It wasn't until the early 20th century that a mesh machine was patented and these metal handbags weren't such an incredible luxury. By the 1910s, the American company Whiting and Davis was producing wildly popular spins on the concept. Its bags, often made of German silver, gunmetal, or sterling, featured hand-etched frames and graceful silhouettes. For nearly a century, the company dominated this market, and Paul Poiret and Elsa Schiaparelli both designed for them.

Flappers went crazy over mesh bags in the 1920s, especially those with screen-printing or enamel zigzag patterns. During the Depression, designers switched to base metals like copper, and the style all but disappeared during the rations of World War II. But the mesh bags made a comeback in the '50s as stars like Ingrid Bergman and Jane Russell sported them in the movies. In the '70s, mesh was even used in halter tops with matching disco bags.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Bag Lady University

Bag Lady University

Bag Lady University is the place to learn about handbag makers from Adrian's, which made Bakelite bags, to Whiting … [read review or visit site]

Art Deco 1910-1939

Art Deco 1910-1939

This Victoria and Albert Museum has a terrific collection of Art Deco objects. On the VAM's website, you can learn … [read review or visit site]

Decopix

Decopix

Randy Juster's survey of Art Deco imagery and reference on all things Deco. Includes pages on murals, houses, gov… [read review or visit site]

Modernism

Modernism

This archived overview produced by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts offers thumbnail sketches of the design moveme… [read review or visit site]



Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Art Deco Whiting & Davis Princess Mary Dresden Mesh Evening Bag PurseAntique Victorian Alpaca Multi Colored Design Beaded Silver Purse Needs Repair1920's Art Deco Mesh Purse By Mandalian Mfg. Co.Small Antique Roses Silver Mesh Purse * Germany * Circa 19101920s Antique Mandalian Art Nouveau Lustro Flapper Fringe Enamel Mesh Purse Bag Rare Antique Art Deco Gold & Silver Whiting & Davis Mesh BagMandelian Mfg. Co. Art Deco Mesh Purse HandbagLot Of 3 Antique Beaded Handbags Roses Peacock Estate As Found For RepairVintage Fancy Figree Frame Bronze Carnival Glass Beaded Purse Handbag Gorgeous!!Antique Whiting & Davis Mesh Bag, Multicolored, 6 1/2" X 7"Antique Flapper Style Mesh Purse Silver - One Of A Kind!Vintage Edwardian Beaded Jet & German Silver Chatalaine Coin Purse NrWhiting & Davis Vintage Art Deco Metal Mesh Hand Bag2 Victorian Berlin Wire Work Silesian Coin Purses 19th Century Fine Metal MeshVintage Art Deco Metal Mesh Purse ... Whiting & Davis ... Flapper Era Antique Beaded Purse Handbag Stylized Peacock Design Tortoise FrameBeaded Silk Badgley Mischka Sterling Silver Evening Purse Clutch $1800Antique Victorian Chatelaine Silver Beaded Mesh Coin Purse True Vintage Vintage Art Deco Beaded Purse With Cherry Red Bakelite FrameVintage Antique Lot 2 Metallic Purses Beaded Micro Mesh Victorian? As IsAntique 1920s Art Deco Whiting & Davis Silver Soldered Mesh Evening Bag PurseAntique Art Deco Whiting & Davis Silver Mesh Evening Bag PurseInteresting Round Beaded Silk Chatelaine Wrist Bag Purse Patented Sept. 8, 1890Whiting & Davis Enamel & Metal Mesh Bag Art Deco Styling Good Colors And PatternAntique Hand Micro Beaded Purse Gold, Pale Green, & WhitePretty Antique Sea Green Vintage Beaded Drawstring Purse Bag W/ Fringe & TassleBeautiful Large Size Whiting & Davis Mesh Purse Enamel Pattern1920's Antique Vintage Steel Micro Beaded Handbag.... DecoUnusual & Exquisite Vintage Whiting & Davis Gold Beaded Purse, Ornate FrameVintage Navajo Indian Buck Skin Hand Beaded Satchel Shoulder Bag PurseAntique Edwardian Era 1900's, Czech Glass Beaded Pouch Wrist Purse, Florals Lot Of 2 Whiting & Davis---czech Metal Mesh & Beaded Bags/purses W/1943 NotepadsLot Of 7 Vintage Antique Change Purses And Sewing Kits Leather Alligator BeadedBeautiful Vintage Fleur De Lis Beaded BagAntique C.1900 800 Silver Mesh W/ Sapphire Glass Clasp Purse-probably GermanVingtage Antique Black Beaded Evening Bag With Fringe Perfect Size For Iphone!Antique Beaded Draw String Purse-roses-8 In. X 10 In.--Nice 19th C Antique Mesh Coin Purse Asb Real Gun Metal FranceBeautiful Vintage Fask Mesh PurseVtg/antique Beaded & Metal Mesh Purse "lot Of 4"Lot Of Vintage Beaded And Crochet Purses, Very OldStunning Vintage Style "whiting And Davis" Signed Goldtone Mesh Lipstick CaseAntique Micro Beaded Purse Handbag Unusual Abstract Multi Color Floral Sterling Mesh Purse Made By G Silver - 1920's To 1930'sAntique Beaded Purse Hand Bag Steel Cut Metallic Beads Gorgeous Opal ClaspTrue Antique Beaded Purse Frame Brass Evening Bag Metallic GoldVintage Whiting & Davis Co 1930's Mesh Metal Bag Purse Art Deco Vtg Tiny Gold Metal Mesh Coin Purse Pill Box Key Chain W/ Quill Pen Feather2 Gold Flask Style Vintage Mesh PursesVintage Long Gold Whiting & Davis Style Chain Mail Mesh Bag Purse NecklaceLot Of 3 Vintage Purses~beaded Crystal~velvet Evening Bag~clutch~changeVintage Art Deco Style Multi-colored Beaded Drawstring Purse **beautiful**Art Deco Mesh Handbag Antique Victorian Handmade Glass Beaded Evening Bag Purse Floral BeautifulAntique True Vintage Art Deco Flapper Beaded Purse Bag Black H.a. & E. Smith Ltd Vintage White Beaded Evening BagBrass?? Mesh Victorian/ Edwardian/ Art Nouveau Purse W/ Mirror- Differant !!Antique German Silver Vintage Copper Colored Beaded Change Purse Wrist BagAntique Turquoise Beaded Evening Purse Silver Century Brand HandleBeautiful 1920's Antique France Steel Cut Beaded Gold Evening Purse Handbag