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 Victorian Micro Beaded Bag / Purse - Beadwork Lady & ParrotArt Deco Flapper Mandalian Mesh Handbag Purse Jeweled Frame & Intact LiningStunning Antique Micro Bead Handbag / Purse, Ornate Gilt Metal FrameSuperb Large 15 Inch Antique Micro Bead Handbag/purse, Jewelled Gilt Metal FrameVintage Beaded Purse 1920's Glass Beads Brass Frame Very Pretty Violets & RosedUnusual Collection Of Antique Articles Beaded Bag, Silver Fob, Silver Bell EtcAntique Dresden Mesh Purse Enamel Rhinestone Frame 20's Flapper Compact HandbagAntique Micro Beaded Purse With Flowers And RosesVintage Early Art Deco 1920s Whiting & Davis Mesh Purse Dresden Original Mirror Pretty Antique Drawstring Micro Bead Handbag / Purse, Floral Rose DesignAntique Egyptian Micro Beaded Drawstring PurseFantastic Old Mesh Enamel Whiting & Davis Purse NrGenuine Vintage 60's 70's Beaded Pearl Silver Clip Frame Chain Bag - F4 B51Antique Micro Beaded Purse Acorn ClaspVintage Mesh Purse/ Mandalian/ Estate FindLot Of 5 Glass Micro Sead Beaded 1920s Flapper Art Deco Purses Handbags BagsGorgeous Vintage Mesh Purse With CompactVintage Copper Tone Bakelite Beaded PurseAntique Art Deco Whiting & Davis Mesh Bag Purse Silver Decorate FrameLate Victorian/ Edwardian Glass Beaded PurseDecorative Ornate Greek Roman Design Beaded PurseVery Fine Old Edwardian / Victorian French Silver Wire Mesh Evening Bag PurseVibrant Antique Art Deco Bead Work Handbag / Purse, Jeweled Black FrameAntique Lot Coin Purses, Miser Purse , Floral Beaded Purse, Brass And Mesh. TlcAntique Victorian Iroquois Beaded Needle Sewing Case Pin Cushion Flap Purse Roll1910 Gorgeous Art Nouveau Sterling Silver Chain Mail Mesh Purse Hand Bag 194 Gr1930s Whiting Davis Metal Mesh Flapper BagAntique Drawstring Bead Work Handbag / Purse, Floral Design, Crochet TopAntique Edwardian Style Whiting & Davis Steel Mesh Purse.Vintage 1920's Mandalian Enamel Mesh Purse With Chain FringeAntique Large Victorian Beaded Floral Handbag Small IssuesAntique Turquoise Mini Beaded Purse W/german Silver FrameAntique Art Deco Ladies Face German Silver Metal Mesh Purse HandbagAntique 41 Grams Sterling Silver 925 Mesh Handbag Purse Change Purse Double PeruAntique German Silver Plated Mesh PurseVintage Mesh PurseGorgeous! Vintage 1920"s Art Deco Blue Beaded Fringe Handbag Flapper Style!!!Antique Mesh Coin Purse Gold PlateAntique Whiting & Davis? Black & Cream Mesh Purse W/chain, Embossed Silver FrameAntique Al Gun Metal Mesh Small Chain Link Coin Purse Made In FranceSilver Vintage Leather Antique Glass Beaded Clutch/handbag/purseMandalian Enamel Steel Mesh Evening Bag Multi-colored 1920 Ornate Frame Art DecoVintage Antique Art Deco Flapper Glass Beaded PurseBeautiful Draw String Beaded Handbag/purseVictorian Silver Mesh Purse "as Is" - Perfect For Display Case1920's Mandalian Vintage Art Deco Enameled Mesh Bag Purse With Embellishments Vintage Italian Tiffany Blue Beaded Purse4 Vintage Purses - As Is - 3 Beaded - 1 Cloth4 Vintage Handbags Purses Beaded Lot Silk Velvet Steel Beads Ger. Silver ParisVintage 1930-1946 Whiting & Davis Accordion Silver Top Mesh WristletVintage Antique 9" Ladies Floral Beaded Hand Bag Purse Early & Chain Look Nr Antique Micro Beaded Rose Pattern PurseVintage Oval Black Beaded Purse W/bakelite LidAntique Micro Beaded Evening Bag C1920sVintage White Solid Beaded Handbag Purse 1940s 1950s L@@k Vintage Beaded Purse Handbag Black And Red Made In Belgium With MirrorVintage Art Nouveau German Silver Chain Mesh Coin PurseAt- Vintage 50s-60s Ivory Leather Box Handbag-beaded ClaspDu Bonnette Original 1930-1940 (depression, Wwii), Beaded Evening Bag, NavyAntique Art Deco Gorgeous Metal Mesh Enamel Flapper Purse 1920's Whiting Davis