A 1955 newspaper advertisement for Whiting Davis mesh bags.
This vintage black wool circle skirt by Madalyn Miller features a working purse applique!
The cream wool felt purse with silver and black detail work has a working gold clasp that opens up, making it a functional vintage purse!
Available for sale at, and photos from, Wear It Again Sam Vintage Clothing.
The first means of carrying personal items were pockets (not always one sewn into the clothing, but often a flat envelope pocket was belted beneath the skirt) or chatelaines (items on chains fixed to a belt). Then, in the Regency period, when skirts hung straight to the ground and bulk simply would not do, there was the reticule bag.
The reticule, a small drawstring bag still generally attached to belts as chatelaine, became an “indispensible”. The reticule does in fact get it’s name from the French ridicule, which likely has something to do with left-over sentiments regarding the over-indulgent Regency period in which the bags were born — as well as the fancy embroidery, beading and other adornment of the bags themselves.
These bags were small, as ladies really only carried about their handkerchiefs, calling cards, some smelling salts, etc., makeup was not en vogue — and certainly ever applied outside one’s bedroom.
When skirts resumed their width, some continued to use reticule bags, but they were not high fashion and you rarely see them in fashion plates until about 1870.
Though made as early as 1820, it wouldn’t be until the late 1880s that the more modern handbags with frames were in popular use. This is when those fabulous hand beaded bags on metal frames with carrying chains were made; followed not long after by the incredible slinky metal mesh handbags.
Women typically made their own bags as well as for friends and family, but quickly making beaded purses became a respectable way for a lady to make money.
As a cottage industry in the United States, women would make the purses at home — mindful to place a single white bead in a particular area of each bog (on both sides), so that the store owner could identify the purse maker and so properly pay her the commission she was due.
From Somewhere In Time:
If you don’t find a white bead in a beaded bag, you can assume that either the bag was made solely for the use and enjoyment of its’ maker, or that the bag is from a European country, where even if the bag was made for the tourist market, there was another type of arrangement, perhaps outright purchase, between the beader and the store which sold it.
These vintage Whiting & Davis mesh bags with the faces of screen legends enameled on them are really the ultimate in film meeting fashion!
These and other stunning pieces up for auction at Collect.com (starting November 23, 2009 through December 12, 2009), rare vintage mesh bags from the LaMothe Collection; found via Deanna’s Collectors’ Quest post on vintage Mandalian mesh bags.
Kim’s still busy sorting through all the vintage purses her grandmother had, trying to decide which to save & which to sell…
Such problems! *wink*
One question she asked me was regarding how to decide what to save & what to sell.
That’s a really subjective question…
Not just because beauty is in the eye of the beholder (or the holder of the vintage bag), but because value is a tricky thing.
(Just like those MasterCard ads say. lol)
Certainly those purses which remind Kim of her grandma are “priceless,” as are any purses that Kim may have no memory of — like vintage handbags which are connected to special family occasions (worn to weddings, etc.), and/or those which appear in family photographs. But then again, purses in photographs may have stronger sales appeal because collectors like proof of the vintage item’s age — it’s a form of provenance which adds to its collectibility. So if you want to get the most bucks when the auction gavel bangs… I guess those are the ones to sell.
Rare purses will fetch the biggest bucks too; but then, will you kick yourself later for parting with such a rare purse that you’ll likely never see again?
Ultimately, what it comes down to is what would you like to get for them vs. how much they mean to you — or any other family members (including your children or future children!) who might skin you alive for getting rid of them.
Then again, whatever you keep had better be stored &/or cared for properly…
So the choices may not be so so easy, huh? *wink*
Though for me, it would probably be easy: Keep them all!
The photo shown here is another vintage Lucite purse that Kim would like some help identifying; this one is rather unusual: metallic mesh with tortoiseshell Lucite bottom & handles with rhinestones. Have any ideas? Please comment!
Currently I’m lusting after these 1950’s Spring-o-lator heels with a wild zebra print — and the matching vintage handbag.
What a fabulous way to change the look of any little black dress!