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 Mandalian Collectible Vintage Mesh Purse With Silk LiningFabulous Unique Design Hallmark Silver Mesh 1920's~30's Art Deco Clutch Grab BagAntique Victorian-period Brass & Seed Bead Scenic Purse Pocket Book NrVintage Tapestry Purse With Beaded FringeBeautiful 1900's Native American Indian Beaded Buckskin Hunting Bag - Wide SlingAntique French Art Nouveau Micro Beaded Clutch Purse Ormolu Enamel Floral Motif1920s Antique Art Deco Flapper Beaded Dresses Blue Sheer Ostrich FeathersVintage Micro Bead Hand Bag Purse Art Deco Celluloid Flower Floral Antique RetroLarge Antique Vintage Art Deco Sterling Silver Mesh Dance Bag Purse 300 GramsChinese Export Silver Mesh Purse Box Battling Dragon Tuck ChangAntique Early 1900s Seed Beaded Bag Celluloid Frame Tab & Tassel Bottom Vintage Whiting & Davis Mesh Bag Purse With Original Box Tag & Mirror Art DecoGorgeous Antique Steel Beaded Purse With Roses & TasselsScenic Beaded Purse With 2 Different Scenes, Very OldVintage Antique Flapper Chain Mesh/micro Bead Metal Purse Art Deco A175Antique Early 1900s Micro Beaded Scenic Bag Lady Sitting In Garden Brass FrameVintage 1950's Jolles Original Purse With Beautiful Beaded AppliqueAntique Early 1900s Seed Beaded Bag Celluloid Frame Art Nouveau Tiny FlowersAntique Early 1900s Reticule Beaded Bag Crochet Drawstring Top Child Doll PurseAntique Chain Mail Mesh Purse Bag Floral Patterned EnamelVintage 1940s 50s French Cut Steel Micro Beaded Handbag Purse Rhinestone ClaspVtg Art Deco Glass Seed Bead & Celluloid Frame Tassle Flapper Purse Evening BagAntique Early 1900s Seed Beaded Bag Scenic Mountain Village Silver Plate FrameAntique 1920's Mandalian/whiting & Davis Elsah Metal Mesh PurseAntique German - Sterling Silver Mesh Purse Signed - Ernst Gideon Bek - Art DecoAntique Hm1913 Solid Silver Mesh Purse Ladies Evening Bag 107g Not Scap No ResAntique Whiting & Davis Gold Soldered Chain Mesh Purse With Blue Cabochon ClaspLovely Vintage Fancy Goldtone Mesh Doll Purse Pocketbook Chain HandleAntique Early 1900s Seed Beaded Bag Celluloid Frame Art Nouveau Abstract FlowersStunning Antique Beaded Victorian Hand Made Purse/ Bag In Great ConditionAntique Vintage Heavily Beaded Expansion White Evening Bag Purse PerfectWhiting & Davis Goldtone Mesh BagVintage Whiting & Davis Black & Gold Expandable Mesh Gate Top Bag PurseLrg Antique Victorian Beaded Purse Evening Bag Brass Frame -5 Hanging Balls RareAntique Small Metal Knit Purse Chainmail Mesh Fringe Pink For Parts Restore Gorgeous Vintage Art Deco Metal Mesh Purse - Lovely!Antique Czech Blue Iris Carnival Glass Beaded Purse W/ornate Brass FrameVintage Rhinestone Encrusted Mesh Evening Purse - 1920's/1930'sVtg Whiting & Davis Art Deco Gold Mesh W/ Black Deco Accent Bag Purse~classy~nr 2 Vintage Glass Beaded & Sequined Shoulder Bag Clutch Purse Pocket Books NrAntique French Steel Cut Micro Beaded Victorian Purse Bag! Stunning!Antique Pre-1920 Micro Beaded Floral Purse - Stunning - Excellent ConditionFigural Cherub Beaded Purse With 2 Different Scenes, Very Old Antique Vtg French Steel Cut Micro Beaded Purse Ca.1900 Silver, Gold & SlateVictorian Gold Tone Chatelaine Or Mesh Coin Purse W/ Decorative Belt ClipVtg Art Deco Purple Red Green Yellow Mesh Whiting & Davis Purse Fabulous Whiting & Davis Mesh Bag (purse)Antique Vintage Beaded Purse Handbag Germany Beautiful Vintage Seed Pearl Beaded Glass Embroidered Purse Belgium Nice EveningVtg 30s 40s 50s 60s Unqar Beaded Purse Handbag Clutch Geometric Two-tone GoldAntique Mandalian Metal Mesh Purse Antique Mesh Purse Marked "w & D, German Sliver" Ornate Floral Frame~looks GreatVintage Walborg Beaded Hand Made Clutch Purse Made In W Germany ~ 8"w X 4"hAntique 1920's ~ Repousse Metal Mesh Handbag ~ German Silver ~ Lined ~ A Gem!Vintage Micro Beaded Purse In Beautiful Multi-color 'victorian/artdeco DesignVintage Mesh Beaded Bag 13 Mm Venetian Glass Wedding Cake Beads Glass Metal 2mmVintage Whiting & Davis Gold Mesh Evening Bag Purse Handbag Sign Gorgeous Shiny Antique Art Deco Flapper Girl Glass Beaded Handbag Clutch Cocktail PurseAntique Art Deco Flapper Girl Glass Beaded Handbag Clutch Cocktail PurseAntique Beaded Floral Pattern Madelon Clutch Purse Handbag