How to Spot and Buy Vintage Handbags at Auctions Like an Expert

Fashion and celebrity magazines such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan, as well as TV shows and movies like “Sex and the City,” can give you plenty of helpful style tips. For instance, the film “Sex and the City 2” featured the character Miranda wearing Tom Ford sunglasses while riding a camel. Seeing the main characters wearing designer sunglasses can easily encourage women to buy Tom Ford glasses online so they can look equally fashionable.

Designer jewelry and handbags often fetch a high price. Brand-new Birkin bags, for instance, can cost between $12,000 and over $200,000. With a hungry secondary market, jewelry and handbags can fetch an even higher price.

In 2014, a Birkin encrusted with diamonds and made out of a rare, almost albino crocodile skin was sold during an auction for $185,000. The price may be enough to make you faint, but auctions provide an opportunity for people to get their hands on vintage or top-quality items. Birkin bags alone have a waiting list of almost six years, making handbags such as these a rare commodity.

Where can you get these luxurious bags? Try an auction.

Check out handbag auctions

Auctions can sometimes have a reputation of being a man’s world. Vintage cars, watches, and wines are some of the more popular auction categories. The buyers in these categories are typically men. Men even buy pieces of jewelry,for their special someone.. 

But with handbag auctions, women are the dominant players. Designer brands such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel make for both great fashion pieces and investments.

Auctions make it possible for women to invest in pieces that they can use or sell in the future. Whether you are looking for the perfect accessories, investments, or heirlooms you can pass on to your grandchildren, it is worth knowing which pieces are valuable or worth getting

Here are a few tips to help you bid on handbags and purses like a pro.

1. Consider the designer or brand

In major auction houses such as Christie’s, Hermes handbags make the most sales. This is followed by other designer brands such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, and Fendi, among others. If you are planning to sell your bag anytime in the future, make sure to go for the top performers.

2. Do your research

Information can be acquired from a wide variety of sources. Other than the auction catalog, you can also get information from the Internet. Use these sources to learn as much as you can about the auction – item detail, condition, resale prices, and ownership documents.

In items such as artworks, the provenance or documents showing a piece’s history of ownership are just as crucial as the masterpiece itself. The paperwork determines its authenticity and proves that the piece was genuinely created by the artist and not by an understudy, apprentice, or another artist copying his style.

Handbags may come with a lot of paperwork. For instance, one may come with a permit if exotic materials were used to craft the accessory. The permit is also necessary when shipping the item internationally.

Authenticity cards and certificates, on the other hand, are not just there to prove to you or the buyer that the bag is a genuine designer product. Some repair shops may require these documents before they can repair the bag in question.

In bags with diamonds, gems, or other precious stones, insurance appraisals may also be required from the seller. These documents determine the weight, shape, and color of the stones on the bag in its original condition. 

Read through these documents carefully when doing your research. Keep these papers organized if you do win the bid as they will be necessary when selling or sending your bag for repairs in the future.

3. Check the condition 

Items in mint or near mint condition may cost more, but they can last longer. As investments, the state and craftsmanship can also determine how much you can sell the bag in the future. 

Major auction houses often produce item catalogs that list what items are on sale as well as give a brief description of its history and condition. However, do not use the report as the only basis for your decision. 

Read the reports, but don’t forget to take advantage of viewing the item yourself. By seeing the item and inspecting the details, you can determine for yourself the condition of the item. Plus, seeing the item also reduces the chance of developing buyer’s remorse after winning the bid.

If you do get the chance, check the linings and the details carefully. Any evidence of scuffs, marks, damage, or being worn shows more easily in these areas. In a bag that is still in good condition, these areas should remain intact.

4. Go for the classics

New fads may come and go, but classics will always have a place in fashion. Hermès Birkin bags are proof of this. You can carry a Birkin bag any time of the year and still be trendy, regardless of what the fad is at that moment.

The Birkin has long been associated with wealth and prestige. Because it is produced in limited quantities, coupled with its colorful history, the bag is in high demand throughout the year. 

Other than the Birkin, you can also consider investing in the Constance and Kelly handbags. For Chanel, there is the Classic Flap Bag. Other to-die-for handbags include the Shopper Totes and Boy Bag. 

When shopping for classic Louis Vuitton bags as an investment, look for the travel collection and the Vuitton monogram. Functional pieces such as these will always resell well. They can also be passed on to your descendants and be loved just as much as the generations before you loved them.

5. Know when to take a risk

Lastly, consider the material and the color of the bag you plan on buying. Hermès, for instance, is a brand well known for its signature colors. Their line of reds alone has become legendary as the shades can go from bright to deep-rich to fiery.

If you want to take a risk, look for limited edition versions of the classics. One-of-a-kind pieces rarely make it in the stores. Because they come in limited supply, there is a higher demand for such pieces, especially from the secondary market.

Handbags are a form of wearable art. They also make great investments. With these tips, you can find the best pieces that suit your budget and style.