This green and white beauty became part of my collection at an auction but not in the normal way.
A few years ago I attended a small local auction specifically to bid on several painted mesh purses I knew were up for sale. The auctioneer decided to offer the purses as a “Choice Out” which means they group together like items, auction them in the usual way, then you pay the agreed upon amount for each of the items you choose from the group. So, if the bid goes to $100 you pay $100 for each item you take. You do not have to take all of them but you can if you wish. This particular auction had a tray with 5 beautiful painted mesh purses from Whiting and Davis, the premier manufacturer of vintage painted mesh purses. While I really wanted them for my collection; I always make it a point to go into an auction with a set amount for the items I am interested in and religiously adhere to that amount. It has taken me several times of getting stuck with an overpriced item to really curb my enthusiasm when bidding.
The bidding started and I was ready. I previewed the auction items earlier in the day and decided I would not go above $75 per purse. They started at $10 and quickly soared to $185. I dropped out at $75 and watched as the purses were sold to another bidder. The first person only took one purse and the back-up bidder did not want any. I had another chance! They ran the purses again on a choice out and the bidding flew to $190 the second time. Crazy, but it only takes two people to bid against each other for the bidding to get out of control. The second winning bidder only took one purse again and the back-up did not want any. The auctioneer seemed tired of running these little gems and decided to run them a third time but for one money which means, everything on the tray is included for the final bid amount. There were three purses left so I felt I could bid up to $225 and still stay in my budget. The lot went for $425 for just three purses. Oh well! Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes you never get to play.
I stayed for another half hour and watched as lot after lot was sold. The excitement in an auction is very entertaining and contagious. It is so easy to get caught up in that excitement. As I was walking around the back tables stretching my legs, a man approached me and mentioned the purses I’d missed out on. He commiserated with me that sometimes these people get caught up in the auction and pay more than retail for an item but that is the nature of an auction. Sometimes it’s a bargain, sometimes not. He asked if I collected the mesh type purses and we talked about my collection for a few minutes. Then he asked if I’d like to see the one that did not make it into the auction? I’m usually game for something like this and he went out to his truck and brought this beauty to me. I asked if he was selling it and sure enough he gave me a price. I paid far less than my original top bid amount and we both went away happy.
Not Whiting and Davis but made by Mandalian, another US based mesh purse manufacturer that closed their business in the 1940’s; this purse measures about 6 inches long and 3 inches wide. The dark blue/green and white painted mesh is in like new condition and the fringe on the bottom gives a gentle movement to the purse. These mesh purses have a smooth silky tactile quality almost mesmerizing. It is a pleasure to hold these mesh purses as well as use them to accent your ensemble.
The mark on the inside of the closure reads: “Mandalian, Made in USA”. The hand-wrought chain is made of an oblong link then a twisted oblong link giving the chain a lighter artisanal appearance. The lining of this purse is missing just like so many purses of this era but, the loss of lining in no way diminishes the beauty of the exterior decoration. The purse closes with two deep blue glass cabochons mounted in the silver clips and the outer purse top is decorated with a floral motif stamped into the silver closure.
As most purses of this era, this little beauty would hold a small comb, a hankie and a few coins, not much else. Rather impractical by today’s standards but still beautiful to hold and quite stunning when used to accent your wardrobe and make it even more stunning with just a little purse.