To many, my obsession with beaded and mesh evening bags is a little over the top. I always remind myself that everyone collects something; why not beaded evening bags? There are many different styles available but, I only have three tiny bags with a circular opening in my collection.
The little gold and white mesh bag in the above photo has a gate top frame that opens with a scissor type action easily expanding from about one inch diameter to over 2 3/4 inches diameter with a pull on either side of the opening after popping the top which has a tiny hinge connecting it to one of the expansion pieces. The round cap is decorated with incised filigree work and the chain is delicately incised with etching on each link.
This little bag could hold a few essential items maybe a lipstick, a few coins, a tiny folded hankie but definitely not a cell phone. The bottom of the bag is far too small measuring less than 3 inches square. Each of the tiny interlocking white enameled mesh squares has a raised center and gives the bag a very appealing tactile quality. There is no maker’s mark but the quality is superb and this beauty has lasted long enough that I’m sure this little white handbag saw some spectacular parties in its day.
The largest of my evening purses with a rigid circular opening is covered with purple, lavender, white, yellow and gold seed beads completely covering the body of the purse in an intricate floral pattern. I’ve seen this style purse referred to as a Tam-O-Shanter style wrist purse probably because of the way the body of the purse poofs out on the sides like a tam. The solid circular top of the purse is made of alternating stripes of tortoise shell Lucite and Ivorine, an ivory colored Lucite. This rigid lid opens with a push button at the front revealing a round beveled mirror on the inside of the top cover. The beaded wrist strap is about one inch wide and lined with a tortoise shell colored velvet which rests much easier against the skin when worn on the wrist.
The bottom of the purse is beautifully beaded in the pattern of a single large flower with six peddles worked in varying shades of purple and a grid pattern that gives the center of the flower a somewhat random dot pattern. Outer sides of the purse covered with lavender, purple and gold seed beads continue the floral pattern completely on each side. This purse has some condition issues on the interior as the satin lining is deteriorating with time but the inner lining made from white flannel is completely intact and holding up well.
The last circular opening purse is a coin purse actually a pouch type coin purse. One quite similar is represented in a reference book Vintage Purses at Their Best by Lynell K. Schwartz (1994 edition) the tops are slightly different but the bottom beading is exactly the same.
This little coin purse has a metal flip top embossed with a floral design. The sides are a crocheted burgundy red floss with metal silver beading in a six pointed star pattern. Some of the beads have discolored with age but it is still a charming little coin purse.
There are so many styles of beaded and mesh purses in my collection but only these three have a rigid circular opening.
For more information about collecting vintage evening bags Vintage Purses at Their Best (2004 edition) is available from Amazon HERE. Other books about evening bags are also available on Amazon or you can research them on Etsy.com or RubyLane.com both excellent sources for researching current values for your collectible evening bags.