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    

1920's Flapper Art Nouveau German Silver Frame Olive Micro Bead Bag Signed YqzVintage Painted Soldered Mesh Whiting & Davis Co. Bag SmallVintage 20s 30s Original White Seed Bead Evening Clutch Bag W Rainbow BeadsWondrful C1900 Art Nouveau Sterling Silver Repousse Miniature Mesh Evening PurseAntique Victorian Enamel Mesh Purse & Victorian Brooch/pin LotAntique German Silver Repouse Woman Face Hand Bag Mesh Purse Estate NrAntique Art Deco 1920s Floral Clasp Mandalain Mfg Mesh Chain Purse Flapper BagAntique Blue Glass Beaded Purse Art Nouveau Victorian Era Hi End See Pictures Classic Antique “hero” Warrior’s Beaded Bag & Lime Pot Timor IndonesiaRare Vintage Silver Multi Colored Princess Mary Whiting & Davis Mesh Purse Vintage Hand Bag Heavily Beaded Purse Lucite Acrylic Floral Made In Korea SatinAntique Lot Of 3 Beaded Purses Florals & Scenic For Repair Parts As IsVintage 1920 Whiting & Davis Rose Chain Link Mesh Purse Bag W Mirror No ReserveVintage 1920s Era Mandalian Silver Mesh Purse Enamel Multi Color PastelAntique Whiting Davis "elsah" Art Deco Hand Painted Mesh Bag! Estate Find! NrVintage 1930s Velvet Applique Beaded Evening Bag - Jemco - Gilt Frame - 6 HingedAntique Micro Beaded Purse Bottom-floral Rose PatternVintage Art Deco Whiting & Davis Silver Metal Mesh Purse Handbag WatercolorVintage Lot Of Ladies' Purses - 2 Beaded Bags & 1 Chain Mesh Purse * NrAntique Mesh Ladies Purse N/rVintage Whiting & Davis Gold Mesh Purse Rhinestones Lined W/inside PocketVintage Metal Mesh PurseArt Nouveau Period Scenic Beaded Purse Handbag Amazing Bead Work Victorian Era Silver Metal/steel Cut Bead/repousse Tam O' Shanter Coin Purse Victorian AntiqueVictorian Antique Cut Steel Bead Patented Repousse Top Clasp Coin Chainge PurseNative American ? Beaded Pouch BagAntique Gun Metal Mesh Small Chain Link Coin Estate Purse Fine Antique Art Deco Framed Micro Beaded Purse Bag Gilt Metal ClosureAntique Art Deco Beaded Purse Metal Frame Chain Strap beads Jewels Antique Vintage Silver Flapper Mesh Purse 20s Deauville ~rare~ Sapphire ClaspAntique Beaded Silk Clutch Purse With Silver Plated ClaspsAntique Victorian Glass Beaded Purse W/ Silver Metal Chain Clasp & Belt ClipAntique Chain Mesh Whiting & Davis Purse Fancy With Pastel ColorsAntique Circa 1920's Metal Mesh Clutch Purse Handbag- Nr!Rare Vintage Silver Multi Colored Stone Whiting & Davis Mesh Purse Vintage Multicolored Glass Beaded PurseVintage 70s Original Beaded Pouch Bag Bright Colours Festival $10 Deal Vintage Estate Beaded Evening Purse Lot Beautiful Handbags Hong KongHoss Homeless Glass Beads Beaded Semi Precious Evening Bag / Purse - 474 M13Stunning Art Nouveau Micro Beaded PurseSilver Metal/steel Cut Bead/repousse Tam O' Shanter Coin Purse Victorian DamagedBelgium Made Vintage Floral Beaded Purse W/ Metal Frame & Cloth Lining - K5625Vintage 1920's Whiting And Davis Mesh Steel Art Deco Flapper Period BagBeautiful Antique Silver Mesh Purse With Compact / Rouge Pot. OrnateAntique Metal Mesh Evening Purse Silver Frame Iaalpacca Antique Beaded Purses Restoration Or Repair 1841Vintage Whiting & Davis Silver Mesh Wristlet Purse Sapphire At Closure Flapper Vintage Antqiue Micro Glass Beaded Purse Bag Handbag Geometric Made In France True Vintage Whiting & Davis Co. Gold Mesh Evening Bag (post Ww11 - Early 60s)Vtg Whiting Davis Mesh Purse And Purse Accessories Lot Of 5 Gold And SilverVintage Whiting & Davis Mesh Black And White Collection - Zebra PrintAntique Sterling Silver Mesh Chatelaine Coin Purse Germany #805Antique Silk And Beaded Purse PlusVtg Hippie Boho Festival Sequin Beaded Velvet Fanny Pack PurseVintage Christiana Multi-color Blue & Brown Beaded Cross Body Purse/handbagAntique Silver And Beaded Coin PurseLovely Antique French Art Nouveau Sterling Chatelaine Mesh Coin Purse~hallmarkedArt Deco Soldered Mesh Purse 1920s Red Flapper Handbag Unique Antique Silver & Plum Glass Beaded Fringe Flapper Purse Floral Enamel FrameAntique German Silver Beaded Metal Change Purse. Free Shipping