How To Value Vintage Bags

Vintage fashion can provide a thrill for fashionistas, history lovers, and niche collectors alike, so it is no wonder that today the area enjoys such a lucrative market amongst enthusiasts.

Vintage Bags

Chanel clothes, jewellery and bags of a private collection of an Italian Fashion Aficonado amased over a lifetime are displayed during on line bidding of Sotheby's at Palazzo Serbelloni on December 3, 2019 in Milan, Italy. Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images

Boasting timelessness, superiority of quality, insight into another time, and sheer aesthetic beauty, people across the world enjoy what the world of vintage clothing and accessories has to offer. While vintage bags are only a subcategory of this genre, their charm is no less alluring. Would you like to know how much your grandmother’s Louis Vuitton bag is? Did you inherit your Aunt’s closet of old bags? Perhaps you believe you may have found a hidden treasure at the secondhand store? The following guidelines will be able to assist you in your valuation quest!

Brand & Model

First and foremost, it is important to determine the brand and model of your bag when attempting to ascertain an accurate value. As with brand new bags, there are certain brands and designers that will be worth much more due to the intrinsic market value of their name. Among the most sought after brands are Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermés, Goyard, Gucci, Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney and more. Brands like these have the potential to retain up to 70% of their original retail value.

Check the Latest Vintage Handbag Auctions at Barnebys Here!

woman holding blue leather bag

Woman holding blue leather bag. Image: Public Domain

Chanel Bags

Owning a classic Chanel padded flap bag is like owning a piece of a fashion history. A story of an iconic 2.55 model started already in the 1920's, when Coco Chanel became tired of carrying her handbags in her arms and wanted to design a bag that would free up women hands. The inspiration for the longer and thinner strap came from the military equipment. First flap bags were already available on the market in 1929. in 1955 Chanel updated her design, which also gave the bag its name: 2.55

Today, every owner of an iconic Chanel padded clutch will agree that only this one accessory can easily lift the whole outfit up adding a classic elegant touch to it. 2.55 is not the only iconic model comic from Chanel. Karl Lagerfeld also introduced few models of the bag that were inspired by the iconic flap. Thanks to him we can now enjoy the models in various sizes with the classy padded leather pattern and a double C logo on the clasp.

Related: Learn about Chanel

Chanel padded flap bag, handbag in creme leather

Revived model of an iconic leather Chanel flap. Image: Wen Cheng Liu / License: CC BY-SA 2.0

"...the difference between a leather bag and a non-leather bag of the same brand and model can be up to thousands of dollars."

Hermès Bags

Hermès produces one of the most famous and also most expensive bag models in the world. Their Birkins and Kelly models are the favourites among the Hollywood stars, praised for their durability, functionality and elegance. the Birkin bag was introduced in 1984 and is named after actress and a singer Jane Birkin. It is a tote bag, big and spacious but to get one one has to be on the waiting lists. It is a very exclusive and expensive item, and the price can be rocket high depending on the type of the leather and the finish of the bag. In 2020 prices for brand new Birkin started at US$11,000 for regular leather and have reached up to US$380,000. Birkins are popular among the collectors, and they are often available on the second hand market for much lower than their initial price tags.

Hermès Ostrich Birkin bag, with matching leather-covered lock and key lanyard, displayed with a plaid bow

Hermès Ostrich Birkin bag, with matching leather-covered lock and key lanyard, displayed with a plaid bow. Image: Wen Cheng Liu / License: CC BY-SA 2.0

Kelly Bag is another iconic model sold by Hermès. It was designed in 1935 and was its original name was Sac à dépêches. It was not until 1955, when actress Grace Kelly wore the bag on the set of Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief and made it widely popular. She reportedly fell in love with a bag and was photographed with it multiple times when she became a princess of Monaco.

Hermès Ostrich Kelly Bag

Hermès Ostrich Kelly Bag. Image: Wen Cheng Liu / License: CC BY-SA 2.0

Most Expensive Handbags Ever Sold

During yearly Christie's Handbag Sales, the most luxurious and most expensive bags were sold at breaking records. The mostr expensive Chanel bag sold at this auction was the Métiers D'Art Paris-Shanghai Black Lucite Matryoshka Evening Bag with Gold Hardware, sold in June 2018 for $32,500. However, for years now, the most expensive bags in the worlds are the one designed by Hermès. The most expensive bag ever auctioned at Christie's was a Matte White Niloticus Crocodile Himalaya Birkin 30 with Diamond Hardware sold on November 2017 for $384,285.

Condition of the bag

While assessing what is your bag worth you have to inspect the material it is made of, because it will also play a significant role in effecting its value. The most valuable material is exotic leather, followed by regular leather. Exotic leathers are either made from relatively rare animal species or from skin parts of animals that are rarely processed into leather. Some exotic leathers are protected by the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora). Crocodile or snake skin leathers are commonly addressed as leather. But this does not mean that if your bag is made out of fabric or synthetic leather it will be worthless, however the difference between a leather bag and a non-leather bag of the same brand and model can be up to thousands of dollars. A bag is also more valuable if it still includes its original accessories, such as leather name tags, dust bags, padlock and keys, pochettes, and so on.

Fakes and Counterfeit Handbags

It is also very important to check if your bag is not a fake. If You still have an document of purchase from authorised store, the box and the protective pouch that your handbag came came with, it is probably safe to say you own an original item. But if your handbag was a second hand find or you got it at estate sale it would be good to have it professionally examined. Usually the authenticity card should follow containing the information like serial number. Before it was easy to spot a counterfeit as the quality of the leather, faux leather or fabric, stitching and finishes was low and did not match the execution of original bags, which often are handmade. Today some counterfeits are almost unrecognizable and although there are checklist for each luxury brand stating what exactly to look for to spot the fake, only a trained eye can tell a difference.

In case of purchasing a bag that you think it is a counterfeit or you got it confirmed, you should always report to the Police and damage and dispose of the item. Counterfeits are damaging the market.


Undoubtedly the most important step in determining an estimate for the value of your bag is to seek professional appraisal. This is the only way to attain a truly accurate estimation for the worth of your item, as a trained professional will be able to take all the measures needed to decrease the margin for error as much as possible. Luckily there are valuation experts in the field here at Value My Stuff that are ready to help you in finding an accurate value for your vintage bag!

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