Auction’s Dec. 16 sale features the lifetime metal mesh, vintage celebrity couture collection of Dennis & Terri LaMothe

IOLA, Wis. – Auctions will present more than 400 lots of the Dennis & Terri LaMothe metal mesh collection in an Internet, absentee and phone auction closing Dec. 16. The LaMothe Collection is the largest assortment of metal mesh – mostly produced by Massachusetts’ famous Whiting & Davis Co. – ever to come to auction. It includes classic mesh handbags and iconic celebrity memorabilia from Cher and Lisa Hartman Black.

Lifetime collectors, the LaMothes spared no expense in building their comprehensive collection of metal mesh. “We did all kinds of crazy things,” said Dennis. “We started buying collections here and there — amassing them. We like to joke that our kids grew up at the auctions because we were there three, four, five times a week.” Added Terri: “Our one rule: They had to be in the best condition we could afford. We didn’t buy just to buy. We bought the very best and traded up.”

Throughout the better part of their married lives the two were well known as powerful, committed buyers. At one time the two employed between 20 and 30 pickers to scour the nation’s auctions, antiques shows and private collections for the best examples of Whiting & Davis, Mandalian Co. and other dazzling antique and vintage mesh handbags.

“This collection is just stunning in so many ways,” said Steve Bloedow, director of Auctions. “The quality, the quantity, the variety — you just don’t find collections like this. With so many lots available during the online bidding, there is something for every collector — from jewelry to fashion, even gloves owned by Cher. The entire collection will impress anyone who views the lots.”

It was the LaMothes who the Whiting & Davis Co. contacted to create a 110-year retrospective on the firm’s best examples for its anniversary celebration. The company gave the couple exclusive and unfettered access to archives. As such, the sale contains more than 250 lots of stunning mesh handbags. The LaMothes took special pride in collecting unique pieces such the Whiting & Davis handbag decorated with enameled metal mesh in a shimmering likeness of Clark Gable (estimate $2,500-$3,000). Other specialty handbags include Mickey Mouse ($500-$1,000), Charlie Chaplin ($2,500-$3,000) and a special commemorative produced for the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair ($1,000-$1,200).

The auction will feature a comprehensive selection of Whiting & Davis’ highly desirable “El Sah” mesh handbags, including a circa 1920s example still retaining its delicate compact built into its gold tone metal handle (estimate $250-$350). The auction also features classic plain, enameled and colored Whiting & Davis lines such as Poiret, Gloria and Baby Peggy handbags. In addition to being the most complete collection of Whiting & Davis handbags, the collection is a shimmering cross-section of American vintage couture, including celebrity memorabilia including a pair of mesh gloves worn by Cher during the height of her late 1980s comeback tour.

The auction contains more than 100 selections of vintage fashion and couture. For example, a pair of silver-mesh gloves by designer Michael Schmidt from the personal collection of Cher is expected to make $750 to $1,500. The gloves hail from Cher’s late 1980s revival as she produced hits such as “If I Could Turn Back Time” and used mesh in many of her outrageous costumes. The lot includes a certificate of authenticity by the Walt Disney World Co. A dazzling red mesh top once owned by Lisa Hartman Black, actress and wife of country music star Clint Black, is expected to bring $500 to $800.

Besides producing its iconic mesh handbags, Whiting & Davis was one of the first companies to produce a prolific line of costume jewelry. As one of the oldest costume jewelers in the United States, its lines are of the kind currently enjoying a rise in popularity. The auction features a large selection of mesh necklaces and neckties, belts, bracelets, earrings and rings. Pieces are heavily influenced by Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Victorian revivals with huge, raised relief bangles and high quality intaglio cameos. Many retain the original Whiting & Davis cards and tags.

A fully illustrated catalog for Auction’s Dec. 16 sale of the Dennis & Terri LaMothe Collection, plus additions, will be printed in the Nov. 25 issue of Antique Trader magazine or available by calling 888-463-3063 after Nov. 11. An online catalog will be viewable through the Web site

All absentee forms of bidding are available through or by calling 888-463-3063, fax 715-445-4087 or e-mail at Bidding starts Nov. 23. The Dec. 16 auction features a 17 percent buyer’s premium. Visit Auctions online at

Photos courtesy Auctions.


*Great Books, CDs, Price Guides & More
*Share YOUR Thoughts in the Antique Trader Forums
*Check out our FREE Online Classified Ads
*Sign up for your FREE e-mail newsletter
*Visit the Antique Trader blog for the latest news and views from the Antique Trader editors
*Enter the Antique Trader Treasure Hunt Sweepstakes