Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Vintage Whiting and Davis Beadlite Bag

Whiting and Davis, c. 1930's.

I've always wanted a vintage metal mesh bag. They always make me think of the 1920's! I often see silver versions in antique stores, but until recently I had never seen any in color. I found this fun one on Ruby Lane. I love that website. Soooo many antiques!

This bag is Whiting and Davis, circa 1930's, and it is "beadlite" armor mesh, meaning each dot of color is an individual bead of painted metal that gives the armor mesh a raised finish. These mesh bags were very popular in the beginning of the century, and are still being made by the same company today. 

Whiting and Davis started in 1876 as Wade, Davis and Company as a jewelry manufacturer. In 1880 Charles Whiting joined the company as an errand boy. By 1896 he had advanced in the company and partnered with Edward Davis. The company name changed, and in 1892, Charles Whiting handcrafted the first mesh handbag. Until 1912, the bags were entirely created by hand. Whiting was quoted saying, “It was no unusual sight in the summer to ride through the country and see groups of women sitting under the trees in their yards making purses just as you would see them spending an afternoon sewing."

Detail of the 'beadlite" mesh.

Art Deco motif on the clasp. The silver plate is a bit worn,
but the painted beads are in great shape.

The inner lining is still in very good and strong condition.

Whiting and Davis stamp.

To learn more about Whiting and Davis check out their website. They manufactured for the war effort in WWII, have a patent on the first bangle hinge and even made mesh gloves for a meatpacking company. Interesting stuff.

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