When a handbag collector buys vintage purses, she wants a valuable accessory from the past, not a fabulous fake. While each season unscrupulous purse vendors create replica handbags for consumers on a budget, you’ll need expert tips to purchase a high-quality vintage purse. For vintage purse collectors, identifying a vintage bag requires a meticulous examination of the purse’s outer skin, stitching and lining.
Visit the public library and look for books about vintage purse history. Search for pictures of past and current handbag designs. You’ll uncover information about vintage purse collections and the various themes and bag shapes produced by various design houses.
Look for imperfections in the handbag lining. The condition of a vintage purse’s lining is an important indicator of the bag’s overall quality. Most vintage purses use fabric lining that lays flat along the bag's interior. The purse’s lining will use the finest faille, cotton or silk instead of suede or leather. An authentic vintage handbag’s lining never feels rough or gathers at the seams.
Examine the purse for fake leather. Vintage purses have a strong leather smell to show the bag’s authenticity. A vintage purse in excellent condition will never have frayed edges or seams that have tiny rips due to old age.
Study the seams and the stitching. High-quality vintage purses have straight seams that are even. Jagged or irregular seams—around the zippers, handles or outer corners of a vintage purse—indicate poor workmanship.
Look at the inside labels. Purse designs of famous design houses such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton or Chanel may contain labels with the designer’s logo embossed or stamped inside. A vintage Chanel handbag has a silver or gold logo inside its lining.
Visit the retail store or website of your favorite handbag designer. View past and current collections. Search for styles and design themes to help you identify vintage purses.
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Mimi Abney is a lifestyle writer specializing in online content for women. Her work has appeared in NewsOK.com and "Keepsake Magazine," among other publications. With over 15 years of writing and editing experience for the web and print, Abney is also a contributor to online health, beauty and fashion publications. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Spelman College.