Whilst I love fabrics and fabric handbags, I do also find metal mesh handbags alluring. The way they move and catch the light can be very appealing. Having stood the test of time over the decades, if not centuries, I can't be the only one who is drawn to them.
Chain mail and mesh have been used for centuries, just think about the knights of old in their chain mail armour for instance. The sheer durability of the materials being used made fine metal mesh an obvious choice for bags. Skilled craftsmen began crafting mesh handbags from gold and silver, with their popularity rising through the 1800's. Each bag was made by hand with each individual metal link meticulously crafted. Needless to say, these bags were very expensive and only affordable by the very wealthy. Today, solid silver mesh bags are still highly collectable.
One of the best known makers of mesh handbags is the American company Whiting & Davis. They began as jewellery makers but started to produce mesh bags in the 1890's. Once A C Pratt had designed and patented the first mechanised mesh making machine, Whiting & Davis became the only maker of machine made mesh bags. The mechanisation of the manufacturing process made the bags more affordable to the masses and their popularity exploded.
Designs became more elaborate with the onset of new technology and base metals were used to improve affordability. Enamelling also became popular on the metal, to provide distinct patterns. Throughout the 1920's and 1930's mesh bags were particularly popular with the Flappers and many of the bags still around today show Art Deco detailing in their shape and decoration.
Modern bags can still be found which utilise metal mesh. Personally, I don't think you can beat a vintage version that has so much history linked through it. I sometimes have mesh bags for sale on my website, so if you are interested, stop by occasionally and see if one is in stock!