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”)

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]

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]

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    

Vintage Beaded Tassel Green Pouch Evening Wedding Bag 1920's Style - F4 G13Antique Victorian Floral Micro Beaded Purse With Sterling Silver Frame & ChainLot 5 Antique Beaded Petit Point Microbead Miser Purse Handbags Vintage NiceVintage 1970's / 80's Beaded Small Gold Cream Clasp Framed Evening Bag - Um G13Antique Micro Beaded Purse Figural Feeding Swans-stunning! Theme 19th CenturyAntique Whiting&davis Mini Mesh PurseOld Enameled Mesh BagRare Vtg 50s 60s Pin Up Micro Beaded Clutch Handbag Lucite Handle Madmen HepburnAntique Sterling Micro Beaded Purse With Castle. Ocean, Mountains 19th CenturyAntique Whiting & Davis Fine Mesh "peacock" Purse, Beautiful Condition! #568Vintage Beaded Tassel Cream Envelope Evening Wedding Bag 1920's Style - Um G13Vintage French Hand Beaded Turquoise Blue / Silver / Pearl Accented Evening BagAntique Vintage Sterling Frame Micro Beaded Purse Flowers Cornucopia BagVintage Art Deco Whiting & Davis Co Mesh Purse 1920's Handbag Red Yellow GreenArt Deco Whiting Davis Antique Bouquet Flowers Mesh Purse Pierced Gold FrameVintage France Josef Hobe Style Jeweled Frame Purple Micro Beaded Handbag Purse Antique Micro Beaded And Needle Point Scenic Purse Lg. Antique Micro-beaded Evening Purse~fabulous Parrots & Flowers~w/chain HandleWhiting & Davis Mesh Purse - Multi Color W/gold FrameArt Deco 1920's Whiting And Davis Enamel Mesh Floral Purse, NrAntique France Victorian Art Nouveau Marcasite Frame Micro Beaded Handbag Purse Mandalian Mfg Co Enamel Mesh Purse, Metal Mesh BagWhiting & Davis Mesh Purse - Green & BeigeAntique Victorian Signed 1903 Hand Beaded Crocheted Ladies Coin PurseVintage "1920's" Small White Mesh Ladies Purse With Black Silhouette Of LadyVintage Whiting & Davis Gold Tone Mesh PurseVintage Art Deco Gold Coloured Venetian Lace Fringed Dresden Mesh Purse 1920 Antique Victorian Micro-beaded Drawstring Purse~willow & Cypress Trees & FloralAntique Whiting & Davis Mesh Bag Purse 1920s Art Deco Blue Enamel Frame FlapperScenic Beaded Purse Stand Up Clasp Jeweled Enamel Frame Country SceneEnamel Metal Mesh Bag/ Flapper PurseOld Enameled Art Deco Mesh PurseVintage Mandalian Signed Enamel Mesh PurseAntique Mandalian Coral Daisy Design Mesh Flapper Art Deco PurseVintage German Silver Mesh PurseVintage Silver Tone Box Frame Mesh Purse Super CoolGorgeous German Silver Antique Mesh Purse Art Nouveau VictorianVintage Belgium Beaded Purse Clutch Handbag #215Vintage Silver Tone Small Mesh Purse Necklace Antique Vintage Mesh Armor Coin Purse Bag Art Deco ? Blue Stone Rare No ReserveVintage Walborg Fully Beaded Bronze Evening Bag Purse With Chain StrapVictorian Jewelry Lot+ Mesh Purse+picture's Beads1920's Art Deco Style Whiting & Davis Enamelled Mesh Purse Unlined Very PrettyMandalian Mfg Co Enamel Mesh Purse, Flapper BagStunning Antique Micro Beaded Draw String Handbag Purse Big Bright Floral DesignVintage Belgium Beaded Purse Clutch Handbag #215Vintage Silver Mesh Bag/purseVintage Flapper-style Whiting & Davis Gold-tone Mesh Purse 1920's-1930's #215Antique Beaded Purse Ornate Filigree (very Rare)Vintage Gold Tone Small Mesh Purse Necklace European Vintage Sterling Silver Lipstick / Coins Expandable Mesh Wrist Purse1930-1946 Gold And True Vintageautique Victorian Decortative Beaded BagVintage Antique 1920s Mandalian Purse Art Deco Metal Mesh Flapper Vtg Antique Victorian Chain Mesh Miniature Silver Coin Change Purse Vintage Metal Mesh Lady's Purse1920s Antique Flapper Birds Of Paradise Mandalian Enamel Mesh Fringe Purse BagVintage 800 Silver Mesh Bag/purseVtg 60s Mod Silver Beaded Sea Shell Cocktail Party Mermaid Glamor Purse HandbagVintage Beaded And Crochet Change Purse, Made In FranceLot Of 4 Antique Micro Beaded Bag Frames Repair Parts