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Purses dating prior to the 19th century rarely present themselves to collectors today.As the materials become more fragile with age, early beaded handbags are increasingly hard to find without damage to silk linings, missing beads and damage to fringe work.Painted mesh handbags, like those produced by Whiting & Davis and Mandalian, are often found with worn paint, missing chain fringes, and links coming apart at the hinges, which all diminish the value in a collectible bag.Vintage purses make a unique statement as fashion accessories, but also can be used to decorate in the home.Handbags, purses, pocketbooks ... modern conveniences? Not really. These useful items have served their owners for centuries.As far back as the Middle Ages, both men and women carried purses. Although these medieval bags infrequently held the rare commodity of money, they did serve to stash other small personal items such as important papers for men and sewing implements for ladies.These early purses often reflected the social status of the carrier. More elaborately embroidered and embellished bags usually found a home with society's most affluent members.Handbags dating prior to the 19th century rarely present themselves to collectors today. Some of the most popular bags with collectors these days are the beaded and metal mesh examples of the early 20th century.

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