Oct 31

Vintage Collectible Handbags: Metal Mesh Purses and Handbags

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Vintage Whiting and Davis metal mesh bag

There are two great advantages of collecting vintage and retro handbags, designer bags and purses. One is that vintage handbags are hot items and are increasing in value. Another is that they are very trendy accessory items that you can actually use!

You may already have started a vintage handbag collection without knowing it. Have you inherited one or two vintage bags from your mother or grandmother? Perhaps they are waiting to be discovered in the attic or at the back of the closet.

If you have found an old handbag, you can check its value at online auction sites such as eBay or Etsy.

Antique German silver mesh evening bag

If you don’t like auctions (and not everyone does!), wonderful vintage and antique bags can be found on Amazon. (see my easy links at the end of this post).


The Growing Vintage Handbag Market

Popular television programs like the British ITV series, “Downton Abbey” and Public Television’s  “Mr. Selfridge” are boosting the popularity of vintage handbags, (and vintage clothing styles). Many of those styles are showing up on the runways and at celebrity attended functions.

We’ve researched some of the trendiest vintage and retro handbags and purses and have listed them here. This article focuses on vintage metal mesh bags. Practically all of them work great with today’s fashionable evening wear.

The Art of Chain Metal Mesh Handbags

The fine art of metal chain mesh has been around for centuries. Originally woven by silversmiths as a durable cloth fit for a knight in armor, the art progressed beyond clothing when metal mesh ladies purses became highly popular in the 19th century.

Today, the most collectible mesh bags are made of solid German silver, but more affordable machine-age metal mesh bags (often enamel-coated) are still considered a treasure and are highly collectable. The most popular manufacturers of metal mesh bags are the Mandalian MFG Co., which closed in the early 1940’s and the American manufacturer, Whiting & Davis which still produces stunning designer mesh bags.

Paris Hilton with a 2011 Whiting & Davis metal mesh evening bag

During the 1920’s no respectable flapper would be caught without a cute art deco mesh handbag. Today’s fashionistas feel the same way. Although tiny, you can still carry the essentials like keys, mobile phone, credit card and even an e-cigarette.

Prices of Vintage Metal Mesh Handbags

The price of a vintage metal mesh handbag depends on the condition of the item, the age of the item and whether it is made of silver mesh or not.

The vintage enameled Whiting & Davis mesh purse shown in the first photo of this post, had a starting bid on eBay of $9.99 and a “buy it” price of $24.99. (updated 4/14/13)


Vintage Metal Mesh Handbag

Vintage 1920’s metal mesh bag

– The 1920s vintage Whiting & Davis Deco Dresden mesh bag to the left, is in near-mint condition and is being sold at on-line retail for $325.

– A Vintage German Art Nouveau silver mesh purse c.1900 sells for about $225.

– An Art Deco 1920s Whiting & Davis mesh purse sells for about $295.

– The  vintage antique German silver evening bag featured in the photo above was featured on eBay with a starting bid of $179.


Some of the most beautiful Whiting & Davis metal mesh handbags can be found on Amazon. You can view and purchase them by clicking on the Amazon links below. Happy collecting!

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About the author


Hillary is SavvyExaminer’s editor and contributing author is an Emmy award-winning national television writer, producer and marketing expert whose clients have included HGTV, The Food Network, CNN, TBS, TNT and The Cartoon Network.
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  1. fonda

    I have a purse don’t know how old if I send pic can u tell me about it

    1. Hillary

      Hi fonda,

      Since I’m not a licensed appraiser or a dealer, it’s best to visit an antiques dealer who specializes in vintage handbags or send your photo to on line vendors who sell antiques purses. They’re easy to find 🙂 Good luck!

  2. Duckwells

    Hi: I actually have several Whiting and Davis mesh bags listed on Etsy. I did want to clarify that Etsy is not an auction site. It is a shopping site that focuses on handmade and vintage. There is no bidding.

    Great bags, a wonderful collectible.

  3. SavvyExaminer

    anniejean – Sounds like you have some cool treasures. I’m not an appraiser, (just a journalist 🙂 but I do recommend looking for similar items on ebay. If you do find something for auction, put it on your watch list. When and if it sells you’ll have a pretty good idea of what it’s worth. Good luck !

  4. anniejean

    I have 3 metal purses and a match book cover. Can you tell me the value of these? I can send you pictures.

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