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Luxury fashions & accessories on Jasper52 runway Sept. 16

Jasper52 will present 100 lots of luxury fashions and accessories by such esteemed houses as Christian Dior, Manolo Blahnik and Hermes in an online auction on Monday, Sept. 16. Most of these coveted designer finds – handbags, clothing and shoes – are in never-worn or like-new condition.

Hermes Birkin 35 in chartreuse, Togo leather lush with gold hardware, clean with light wear noted, 14in. long x 11in. high x 7in. deep with 5in. handles. Estimate: $14,000-$17,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Whiting & Davis mesh bags always in vogue

NEW YORK – Paired with the quintessential little black dress for an evening function, Whiting & Davis metallic mesh bags are so striking they can become the jewelry in one’s outfit all by themselves. Having clean lines and a shimmering metallic surface, these small silk-lined purses have been favorite accessories by fashionistas for decades. The bags, usually featuring sterling silver chain mesh or golden vermeil, had hand-engraved frames and were often decorated with colorful gemstones.

A 14K Whiting & Davis mesh purse made $750 in June 2019. Photo courtesy of Kamelot Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

These diminutive bags can’t hold much – maybe a pair of keys and a modern cell phone – but they pack a big style punch. At the height of their popularity, the company was selling a million bags a year, which have been embraced by women from all walks of life. While popular for decades, Whiting Davis mesh bags were especially fashionable during the disco era of the 1970s especially apropos when worn with a Halston lamé jumpsuit.

William H. Wade, Edward P. Davis and Louis Heckman founded the Wade Davis & Co. in 1876 in Plainville, Mass. Whiting came up with the design for their first mesh bag in 1892, with all rings formed and joined by hand. Four years later, he and Davis launched a partnership and renamed the firm as it the Whiting & Davis Co. For two decades, groups of women in the factory would work, linking chain rings together by hand, reportedly doing about 1,000 rings a day. The turning point in the company’s history came in 1912 with the advent of a machine that automated the mesh-making process. The company is America’s oldest handbag manufacturer and in the mid-1920s was said to also be one of the country’s biggest manufacturing firms. It had offices in New York, Chicago and Canada at the time and today is still selling American-made products from its headquarters in Massachusetts.

These two antique Whiting & Davis mesh purses brought $1,300 in August 2013. Photo courtesy of Gulfcoast Coin & Jewelry and LiveAuctioneers

Vintage fashion dealer Elaine Klausman of Vintage With a Twist in Bedford, N.Y., said people love the squishy feel of these bags and their style is so universal, they look great with jeans or an evening dress. “They have a very high fashion look that has lasted through the years,” she said.

Styles and sizes have varied for these mesh bags over the years, but most had a flat or a V-shaped bottom, sometimes adorned with a row of fringe hanging off the bottom. They were often set with a sapphire in the clasp. While gold and silver bags were the company’s bread and butter early on, colorful bags were also offered in later decades. A vintage ad from 1939-40 offered such items as “a graceful Whiting and Davis Beadlite pouch bag with chain,” silk-lined and in red, blue or green for $1.75 or a “new style mesh bag … choice of Armor or Beadlite mesh in gold or silver” in non-tarnishing mesh for $2.25. These bags today routinely sell for several hundred dollars each, while rare examples sometimes bring several thousand dollars.

This rare Whiting & Davis mesh purse with a colorful portrait advertising Moxie sold for $4,000 in October 2013. Photo courtesy Dan Morphy Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

“In the teens and early ’20s, Whiting & Davis bags are made of small precious metal rings and are unpainted for the most part, their striking designs coming from a mixture of metal colors, artfully joined rings and metal fringe,” according to a company history on its website. “By the end of the ’20s, flat Armor mesh painted in bold Deco designs and Dresden mesh, with its tiny rings silkscreened by hand in dreamy Impressionistic shades, take center stage.”

A flapper-era 14K gold mesh handbag by Whiting & Davis having a sapphire cabochon earned $850 in September 2018. Photo courtesy of Ashcroft & Moore and LiveAuctioneers

Successful partnerships in the 1930s with renowned designers Paul Poiret and Elsa Schiaparelli, further cemented the company’s reputation for quality purses, carried by flappers, movie stars and regular women. Poiret’s designs added “Parisian allure” to the bags while Schiaparelli debuted new and modern shaping.

This Whiting & Davis advertisement in the 1940s with actress Grace Kelly shows some of their mesh bags for sale. Photo courtesy of Whiting & Davis

After a production hiatus in the 1940s to support the war effort, the company returned to creating its iconic mesh handbags and soon embraced midcentury modern styling that was all the rage.

“Both Poiret and Schiaparelli were influential in changing the look of the purse,” said Lélia  Teixeira, sales manager of Whiting & Davis in Attleboro Falls, Mass. “Their designs turned the purses from ornamental delicate shapes to a more functional design that could be used to carry more than a key and handkerchief.”

‘Whiting & Davis Purses: The Perfect Mesh’ by Leslie Pena and Donald-Brian Johnson (available now from Schiffer Publishing, 610-593-1777, info@schofferbooks.com)

Keeping current with fashion trends while providing timeless styling lies at the heart of the appeal of these mesh bags, which are still made in Massachusetts today.

“We believe that the Whiting & Davis appeal throughout the decades has been the quality, craftsmanship and the classical styles,” says Teixeira. “Whiting & Davis has always had the motto that our styles should be ‘hand in hand with fashion.’”

All things Hermès starring in Jasper52 auction July 31

“It’s not a bag, it’s a Birkin!” And Jasper52 will offer nearly 90 of these coveted items in an exclusive Hermès auction July 31. These iconic bags, rare accessories and home furnishings embody the rich history, expert craftsmanship and attention to detail the house of Hermès is celebrated for.

Hermès Birkin 35 Himalaya Blanc crocodile Palladium bag, new or never worn
Estimate $294,000-$353,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Luxury fashions auction packed with designer handbags July 2

Dozens of designer handbags are offered in a Jasper52 auction of luxury fashion accessories that will be conducted Tuesday, July 2. Chanel, Gucci, Spartina, Michael Kors, Judith Leiber, Louis Vuitton and Valentino are all represented in this 100-lot online auction.

Louis Vuitton Lockme leather shoulder bag in excellent condition. Estimate: $2,500-$3,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Individual style key to luxury fashion online auction June 2

Fashion fades, style is eternal,” declared French designer Yves Saint Laurent, as evidenced by an online auction of vintage haute couture and luxury accessories to be conducted by Jasper52 Sunday, June 2. Few collections mirror the top-tier quality and breadth of this sale.

2003 Christian Dior haute-couture red beaded silk evening gown in excellent condition; no stains. Estimate: $3,000-$3,500. Jasper52 image

View the auction here.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Reflecting on rhinestones’ flash from the past

NEW YORK – Rhinestones are named for Rhine stones, sparkly, highly coveted rock crystals found along Europe’s Rhine River. They date from the early 1700s, when Georg Friedrich Strass devised a method of backing faceted glass crystals with metal powder. As a result, light, instead of passing through their facets directly, refracted into brilliant rainbow spectrums.

His individually cut, hand-finished pieces, also known as Strass and diamantes, were marketed as “poor men’s diamonds.” Nonetheless, many well-to-dos, fearing that their precious jewels would be lost or stolen, often commissioned rhinestone replicas to wear while traveling or attending public events. Since hand faceting and molding rhinestones was laborious, these faux ornaments were often as costly as their originals.

Elsa Schiaparelli, Aurora-Borealis set of bracelet and earrings, marked ‘Schiaparelli’ with patent number ‘2383,’ France, 1956, realized €1,100 in 2015. Image courtesy Auctionata Paddle 8 AG and LiveAuctioneers

As jewelry became simpler, smaller and more elegant, colored rhinestones, created by backing clear stones with metallic foil in a variety of shades, became the height of fashion. Their shimmering, transparent shades, known as turquoise, sapphire or ruby-rhinestones, for example, reflect the gems they simulate. Colorful chokers, bracelets and brooches, featuring romantic floral motifs, were also charmers.

Elsa Schiaparelli suite of ear clips and brooch, aurora rhinestone brooch and matching ear clips, the brooch with prong-set marquis Swarovski crystals and three marbleized prong-set cabochons, marked ‘Schiaparelli,’ 3.25 in. From the Collections of Carole Tanenbaum, Toronto, Canada, realized $225 in 2012. Image courtesy of Cowan’s Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

In the late 1890s, as pieces became more extravagant, Daniel Swarovski, son of a Bohemian gem cutter, invented a water-powered machine that mechanically cut and faceted lead crystal faster, more precisely and affordably than before. Since each facet breaks reflected light into a striking rainbowed fragment, the more facets, the more flash. When their lead percentage was increased, Swarovski’s multifaceted creations grew flashier still. Indeed, due to their multiple, consistent facets and exceptional brilliance, many consider vintage Swarovski rhinestone pieces to be top of the line. Marked or signed ones in prime condition are doubly desirable.

Costume jewelry bracelet with rhinestones and simulated emeralds, 6¾in. long, realized $60 in 2017. Image courtesy Auction Gallery of Boca Raton and LiveAuctioneers.

At the turn of the century, when garnet or pearl petit point edgings adorned delicate diamonds, scores wore versions with less costly rhinestones. Some, instead, preferred romantic winged, whirled, or feathered bow hearts, bow knots, or floral spray brooches. Others flaunted showy, multihued, rhinestone frogs, dragonflies, swans, snails, peacocks or tortoises.

French rhinestone shoe clips, circa 1800s, marked ‘Holfast Pat. App. For.’ Few rhinestones missing from each, realized $20 in 2017. Image courtesy of Cordier Auctions & Appraisals and LiveAuctioneers

Rhinestones came into their own, however, in the 1920s, when white-on-whites, say diamonds or white topaz on platinum, were the cat’s meow. Coco Chanel, parting from tradition, championed rhinestones not as diamond wannabes, but as glamourous, cutting-edge glories worn day or night. In time, glittery, mass-produced rhinestone earrings, hat pins, shoe clips and evening bags were available not only in exclusive shops, but also at five-and-dimes.

During the Great Depression, whimsical, brightly hued rhinestone flower, bird and butterfly brooches brightened the gloom. In addition, dazzling dress clips, hair clips and necklaces, inspired by Hollywood glitz and glam, made simple outfits look like a million.

Vintage Eisenberg brooch, with colored stones and rhinestones in shape of a dragonfly, 4in. x 3.5in., realized $300 in 2011. Image courtesy of Jay Kielstock Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

Through the following years, American manufacturers such as Coro, Haskell and Trifari, produced fine, detailed pieces of rhinestone costume jewelry, many with imported Swarovski stones. Exquisite, highly detailed Eisenberg & Sons dress clips, snowflakes and swirling bows were also popular. After World War II, when jewelry styles grew big and bold, many earrings, chokers and brooches bloomed with large-stone, razzle-dazzle rhinestone floral clusters. Others depicted birds, bows, snakes, scrolls or ribbons.

Black floral lace dress worn by Sharon Tate to the London premiere of Roman Polanski’s film ‘Cul-de-Sac’ in 1966, featuring raised waist with satin bow, rhinestone and simulated pearl brooch, Boutique Christian Dior London label, realized $15,000 in 2018. Image courtesy of Julien’s Auctions and LiveAuctioneers

In the mid-1950s, the Swarovski company introduced a new type of stone featuring clear glass crystals coated with micro-thin layers of vaporized blue metal. These extraordinary jewels, illuminated by bursts of colorful, otherworldly lights against pale-blue grounds, are known as Aurora Borealis (AB). Since they also reflect hues of nearby fabrics, they caused a sensation. Christian Dior, in fact, embellished scores of his signature evening gowns with them. Furthermore, when his exclusive rights expired, other famed designers, like Elsa Schiaparelli, quickly secured them.

A vintage rhinestone creation is not only an unabashed fashion statement. It’s also a flash from the past.

A passionate wave to vintage fans

NEW YORK – Hand fans began as a strictly utilitarian item, to keep its owner, usually ladies, cool on a hot day. Picture Cleopatra reclining on a sofa while a servant fanned her with a large fan. Somewhere along the way, fans got smaller so they could travel in a bag and became quite decorative. Many types of hand fans are collectible today, including both folding fans as well as fixed fans that don’t fold.

This fan by Alexandre, circa 1880, sold in December 2018 for $2,516. It is believed to have belonged to the Infanta Maria de la Paz, daughter of Queen Isabella II of Spain and her husband Francisco. Photo courtesy Tennants

The history of fans is rich, going back some 3,000 years with fixed fans being among the earliest of type, according to commentary on the website of The Fan Museum in Greenwich, London. “Few art forms combine functional, ceremonial and decorative uses as elegantly as the fan. The first European folding fans were inspired by and copied from prototypes brought in to Europe by merchant traders and the religious orders who had set up colonies along the coasts of China and even Japan. These early fans were reserved for royalty and the nobility and, as expensive toys, were regarded as a status symbol.”

Some collectors are eclectic, collecting a variety of fan styles but many specialize in one type, such as those advertising a product or made of bone or lace or featuring a certain decoration theme.

“People sometimes want to collect fans from different countries or that are defined by their time period,” says Abbey Block Cash, president of the Fan Association of North America. “Fans are also desirable based on their materials; the sticks may be constructed of lacquer, carved ivory, resin, tortoise, bone, wood, silver, gold, metal, or mother of pearl. The fan leaf may be of silk, cotton, satin, lace, decoupe or feathers.

An unusual Brussels lace fan mounted on pierced and gilded mother-of-pearl sticks and lace, circa 1880s, sold for $2,914 in March 2019 at Tennants. Photo courtesy Tennants

“The subject matter of desirable fans will also vary from love scenes to animals, landscapes, occupations, and activities engaged in by individuals, including intimate relationships,” she said. “Fan designs may be hand-colored, printed, lithographed or painted – and they may be adorned with embellishments such as sequins, pique work, weavings or precious or semiprecious stones.”

Mary Cooper, a longtime dealer in antique costume/textiles and publicity officer for the Fan Circle International, began selling vintage dresses while still a student in England about 40 years ago. Her passion for fans began when searching for an antique lace veil to wear for her wedding and finding a lacy fan.

A Duvelleroy fan with monture by Podani, circa 1880s. Photo courtesy the collection of The Fan Museum, UK

Cooper said fans ultimately became fashion accessories, able to be folded up and hung from a lady’s belt or carried in a handbag. “You want something that’s practical, is pretty and fits in a bag but has the sort of amazement factor.”

She has traded in and collected many lace fans and is personally drawn to Art Deco and Art Nouveau fans, around the same time (early 1900s) that women smoking cigarettes was no longer taboo, bringing about the demise of fans. Holding a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other, women stopped carrying fans as they didn’t have a spare hand to hold it, she explained.

Detailing the history of fans, she said, “If you can imagine trade starting from Asia into Europe, the import agencies brought into Italy and into Marseilles in the south of France. The Italian artists used to paint a leaf, which is what we what we call the paper that sits on top [of the fan].” Fan leafs are often made of paper today but in those days it was lambskin or goatskin, made thin, she explained. “That’s one of the ways we can tell the age of a fan as in what that bit on the top is made of,” she said.

A vividly hand painted paper folding fan with Texas scenes realized $30,000 in April 2013 at Dorothy Sloan – Rare Books. Photo courtesy of Dorothy Sloan – Rare Books and LiveAuctioneers

By the 18th century, folding hand fans were made throughout Europe, into England and later in America; crafted of such elegant materials as tortoiseshell, ivory, bone and lace. The decoration on their leaves was ornate and meant to spark conversations among the fashionable ladies carrying them as well as conveying status.

Among the most famous of Europe’s fan makers were Felix Alexandre (b. 1823), who made fans for European royalty, Lachelin and Kees, and last but not least the House of Duvelleroy, founded in 1827 to make fans fashionable again. Interestingly, in 2010 two women pooled their savings to buy the rights to trade as Duvelleroy and are again making fans.

An early calligraphy paper fan by noted Chinese artist Zhang DaQian, hand-painted, earned $13,495 in June 2017 at Five Star Auctions & Appraisals. Photo courtesy of Five Star Auctions & Appraisals and LiveAuctioneers

Fans from all antique periods are popular but perhaps none more so than circa 1890s-1920s fans “where you have Art Nouveau styling, which was just beautiful design, color and shaping to the fan itself and good artists painting them,” Cooper said, adding that fans from that brief period are few, which pushes up the price. Faberge fans are also rare and highly collectible.

“You either want to buy a fan made in small numbers or you want to buy a fan with what we call provenance,” she said. “As a collector, I know I can’t collect one belonging to Queen Elizabeth II because she keeps them, but I can collect from someone who was in high society when fans were popular. We are always looking for fans that belong to somebody, it’s important if we can find them but it is quite a challenge, so you have to content yourself with just high-quality ones.” Conversely, cheaply mass-produced fans were not expected to last, so surviving examples can be rare and desirable.

Designer Fashion Auction Jan. 9 is in the bags

More than 200 fashion designer bags are complemented by several dozen lots of couture in a Jasper52 online auction set for Wednesday, Jan. 9. Chanel, Prada, Valentino, Gucci, Fendi and Louis Vuitton are a few of the famous names offered in this large auction.

Valentino Rockstud large clutch wrist bag, mint condition, 9 x 13.5 inches. Estimate: $800-$1,000. Jasper52 image

View the auction.

Learn more about the auction on Auction Central News.

Looking for Spectacular Spectacles

From Benjamin Franklin’s spectacles to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s sunglasses, eyewear plays an important role in our perceptions of history and culture. While the first eyewear emerged in the 13th century Italy, it didn’t mesh with fashion until much later. In 1730, an English optician developed a pair of glasses with two attached rods that rested on the wearer’s ears. From that point, corrective lenses became wearable accessories.

Full-Vue rimless eyeglasses, circa 1940s. Courtesy of Tom Valenza, Historic EyeWear Company

Through the 18th and early 19th centuries, eyeglasses were known as spectacles to differentiate them from single-lens monocles and pince-nez, which rested on the nose but did not connect to the wearer’s ears. Spectacles during this time were commonly rimmed with wire, tortoise shell or horn, and lenses tended to be small and round. Early bifocals featured one lens for far-sightedness and the other for near-sightedness. Their invention has been credited to Benjamin Franklin, but while he was certainly an early adopter of bifocals, he never overtly claimed to be their creator.

Until the late 19th century, spectacle style had much to do with variations in bridge and lens shape. Most spectacles had a gently curved bridge, a “crank” bridge with a sharp curve in the center, or an “x” bridge (two wires joined at the middle). Just prior to the Civil War, American companies began to mass-produce spectacles, greatly reducing their cost and making vision correction more readily available to consumers. By the 1870s, manufacturers were producing a wider range of eyeglass styles.

The collectors’ market for antique eyewear is small but growing, says Thomas Valenza, retired optician and owner of Historic EyeWear Co. [www.historiceyewearcompany.com]. Valenza’s interest in the history of his profession led to an interest in collecting antique and vintage eyewear, and then to starting a historic eyewear reproduction business.

Driving glasses with perforated metal side shields, circa 1910. Courtesy of Tom Valenza, Historic EyeWear Company

“My wife and I began going to historic reenactments and noticed that the glasses they wore were often historically inaccurate,” Valenza says. “We thought there might be a niche market.” There was, and pieces from the Historic EyeWear Co. have since become popular with reenactors and have appeared in period movies, television programs, and Broadway productions such as “Hamilton.”

Original antique spectacles are difficult to wear today, even without lenses. “Most pre-20th century frame styles are too small for modern faces and modern lens edging equipment, so reuse is very limited,” Valenza says. “Our reproduction styles have been increased in size to accommodate these modern requirements. Original pieces are very collectible and the market for them is driven primarily by collectors, actors, reenactors, historians and antique dealers.”

Collector Terry Marshall owns an array of curious spectacles, including eyeball massage and electromagnetic glasses associated with quack medicine.

“Early glasses often have telescoping sliders and loops that connect to a wearer’s wig,” says Marshall. “The market for collectors is pretty soft right now. You can get some decent sliders for around $20.”

Gold, round-framed spectacles from the 1970s. Courtesy of Tom Valenza, Historic EyeWear Company

Once mass production began in the late 19th century, the market for eyeglasses began to expand. Over the next several decades, glasses became fashionable accessories, available in many sizes, shape and colors.

With the advent of popular film in the early 20th century, stars began to set the standard for eyewear. Harold Lloyd’s round tortoiseshell spectacles were all the rage for a time, and in the 1930s, newly invented sunglasses hit the market.

Adjustable nose pads, introduced in the 1920s, gave designers additional creative liberty. By the 1940s, consumers could find eyeglasses with larger lenses and a variety of frame widths. Aviator-style glasses also appeared during World War II, and their popularity continues today.

Cat’s-eye glasses (so called because of the pointed top edges of the frames) rose to popularity in the 1950s and 1960s and became a coveted fashion item for women of the era.

Cat’s-eye glasses introduced color and flair into what was once a fairly unvaried market. Courtesy of Tom Valenza, Historic EyeWear Co.

“When cat-eye glasses originally came out, they introduced color and flair into what was a pretty boring market of eyeglasses,” says Levi, owner of the Vintage Optical Shop. “Before that, frames were generally gold, silver or tortoise shell, but cat-eye glasses came in all shapes and colors.”

The Vintage Optical Shop specializes in finding and restoring high-quality vintage frames and making them available to customers via its website, vintageopticalshop.com. Levi has noticed an increased demand for vintage cat-eye glasses.

“Many women are into vintage and pinup culture, and it adds a unique touch to their otherwise modern style,” he says. “There are many new brands making reproduction frames in the cat-eye shape, but people often prefer genuine vintage frames because they’re looking for something authentic and unique – something they won’t see anyone else wearing.”

Which brands are most sought after? “Collectors continue to look at the really exclusive pieces from brands like Cazal, Persol, Silhouette, Mikli and Oliver Goldsmith, to name just a few,” says Clodagh Norton, co-founder of Eyestylist.com.

Norton notes that celebrity connection is important, too. “In the vintage market, people do look to the celebrities of the past and what they were wearing. The real classics will always resonate with consumers who are fascinated by original handmade designs, and iconic pieces that were worn by film stars like Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant.”

Consumers have been interested in vintage frames for decades, but Norton says the rare, expensive pieces are becoming status symbols.

American Aviator glasses, 1958. Courtesy of Tom Valenza, Historic EyeWear Company

“The really iconic frames from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s are increasingly difficult to find and are, after all, a little piece of history,” she says. “Once you have a pair of these in your hand, you can appreciate the craftsmanship, stunning materials, and creative ideas immediately.”

Another current trend is for 1990s style frames inspired by Keanu Reeves’s character in The Matrix.

“This trend for rimless, smaller designs will impact what’s selling in terms of vintage,” Norton says. “But eyewear trends are changing all the time.”

Valenza agrees. “There’s only so much that can be done with eyeglasses designs, so what most of these designers and manufacturers do is go back to the originals and modernize or update them,” he says. “Every past style will come back—it’s only a matter of time.”

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By JESSICA LEIGH BROWN

Sources:
https://www.zennioptical.com/blog/history-eyeglasses/;

https://www.historiceyewearcompany.com/files/HOYFrevisedMcBrayer.pdf;
http://www.antiquespectacles.com/guide/guide_to_assist.htm

Author: Jessica Leigh Brown is a freelance writer based in Clinton, Tenn. Her work has appeared in a number of regional and national publications, including Tennessee Archways, Flea Market Décor, Tennessee Home & Farm, and Tourist Attractions & Parks. Find her on the web at www.jessicaleighbrown.com.

Our thanks to Antique Trader for sharing this article. Click to visit Antique Trader online.