Metal mesh purses were all the rage in the 1920s; our antiques expert appraises this reader's find from the Mandalian Manufacturing Co.
This purse was in a box of toys bought at a sale in the late 1960s. What can you tell me about it?
—E.R. Decorah, Iowa
What’s It Worth?
A: Whiting & Davis Co., still in business today, introduced shimmering metal mesh bags in the 1890s, first making them by hand and later by machine.
Your purse was made by their onetime rival, Mandalian Manufacturing Co. of Massachusetts, founded by Turkish immigrant Sahatiel Mandalian; many of the colorful, ornate designs reflect his heritage. Whiting & Davis bought out the company in 1944.
The flat silhouette, Art Deco geometric design and chain-link bottom fringe are typical of 1920s fashions. Snap-closure frames were made of silver—sterling, plated or German.
Clean a metal mesh purse only with a soft, moistened cloth—a paper towel will snag. Use a blow dryer on low heat to dry completely. Store flat between layers of tissue paper.
Your purse, with no missing links and no paint loss, is worth about $160.