Vintage de­signer hand­bags not only look great they can be a good in­vest­ment too

Hertfordshire Life - - CONTENTS - WORDS: Julie Lu­cas

Ac­cord­ing to the De­sign Mu­seum book 50 Bags That Changed The World the hand­bag is a snap­shot of a woman’s life – com­pan­ion, re­cep­ta­cle of secrets, a sta­tus ob­ject and means of self-dis­play. It has be­come a key item in fash­ion cul­ture.

Christie’s auc­tion house sold its first hand­bag in 1978, part of Coco Chanel’s col­lec­tion. But the vintage and sec­ondary mar­ket for hand­bags re­ally emerged af­ter the re­ces­sion a decade ago, ac­cord­ing to Rachel Koff­sky, Christie’s hand­bags and ac­ces­sories spe­cial­ist. It was at this time that in­vestors be­gan see­ing hand­bags as a se­ri­ous item.

French maker Her­mès is king in this world, says Rachel. ‘The Kelly bag was de­signed al­most 100 years ago, with vir­tu­ally no change to the model since. Sim­i­larly, the Con­stance was de­signed 50 years ago and the Birkin launched 30 years ago. These three mod­els are the most de­sir­able be­cause they are the high­est qual­ity hand­bags, ex­pertly crafted in an ate­lier (artist’s work­shop), in a time­less de­sign.’

Last year, Christie’s sold what is con­sid­ered to be the holy grail of bags, a matte white Hi­malaya Birkin

(right) made of Nile crocodile with an 18-carat white gold and diamond lock for £292,188, a world record price. A sim­i­lar piece in Lon­don fetched £162,500, the record price for a hand­bag in Europe.

Chanel is an­other cov­eted brand. A Time­less bag de­signed by Karl Lager­feld with its dis­tinc­tive CC clasp fetches pre­mium prices, and a rare run­way piece, a Chanel Paris Bom­bay Ma­tryoshka Doll Min­audière (left) was sold through Christie’s last year for £16,500.

So how is the value cal­cu­lated? ‘We will usu­ally es­ti­mate the sell­ing price at around a third of the re­tail price,’ ex­plains Pru­dence Hop­kins, head of ac­ces­sories at Hertford-based Sworders Fine Art Auc­tion­eers. But some vintage hand­bags are now much more valu­able than when they were first pur­chased. Cat­walk pieces by Alexan­der McQueen, ex­otic skin Birkins or Chanel’s iconic 2.55 hand­bags (the style was in­tro­duced in Fe­bru­ary 1955) all com­mand a pre­mium. ‘Con­di­tion, prove­nance and orig­i­nal re­ceipts all add to the value of your hand­bag,’ Pru­dence says. She adds that buy­ers like the his­tory of clas­sic pieces while newer pieces that would have cost sev­eral thou­sand pounds in a shop years ago can be found for a frac­tion of the price.

‘I think a lot are bought for an in­vest­ment but get light wear,’ says Sarah White of Ten­nants Auc­tion­eers. ‘Some wear is okay, but they want to be in the best con­di­tion pos­si­ble. If there is a card of au­then­tic­ity, then even bet­ter. Check the han­dle is not cracked and check the cor­ners as of­ten they wear.’ Sarah be­lieves the rise in pop­u­lar­ity of hand­bags is celebrity driven. ‘They are pho­tographed ev­ery­day car­ry­ing the lat­est bag – and peo­ple want a piece of that.’

Sworders is hold­ing an Ob­jects of De­sire sale on Oc­to­ber 3, visit for de­tails.

‘The holy grail of hand­bags, a matte white Hi­malaya Birkin by Her­mès, sold for £292,188’

Sworders sold this Cartier clutch for £2,200

BE­LOW: Her­mès’ record-break­ing crocodile diamond Birkin and Chanel’s iconic black caviar leather 2.55

ABOVE: Rare Chanel Paris Bom­bay Ma­tryoshka Doll Min­audière

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