From the last two trips I made to Paris, I have been fortunate enough to find small mesh chatelaine purses at the Marché aux Puces de la Porte de Vanves.
A very nice vendor indicated three boar's heads on the frame of one of the mesh purses I wanted to purchase.....I knew little about them but loved the look and feel of them. The boar's heads indicated the fineness of 800 or more on on the purse. I did a little research and came up with the following.
Taken from www.modernsilver.com
On French silver jewelry, the most often-seen mark is the boar’s head, the mark of the Paris Assay Office, indicating a fineness of 800 or higher on small articles (such as jewelry). This mark was in use from 1838 to 1961. Outside of Paris, the crab mark was used from 1838 to 1961, and since 1962, has also been used by the Paris Assay Office.
After 1838, a maker’s mark in a lozenge (diamond shape with four equal sides) was also required on French gold, silver and platinum. According to Tardy, the lozenge shape itself was introduced in 1797, but it is not clear if there were any regulations about its use at that time.
I also have a purse with the lozenge and three boar's heads. The frame's on these mesh purses can have beautiful and interesting designs. Some have a "kiss clasp" inside.
I was finally inspired to make a necklace from one of my purses when I saw Christine Wallace's beautiful piece in the Autumn 2011 Jewelry Affaire magazine.
I would love to know the women who used these small purses....what stories they could probably tell us.
Until then.....stay inspired!