What to Look for When Evaluating the Best Handbags to Collect

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The market for vintage handbags is growing and Kovels' new handbag report helps collectors in their hunt for bargains. The Kovels list 5 top timeless handbags to look for.

kovels, antiques, collectibles, vintage handbags

Kovels' Collectors Guide to Handbags

Wise investors, collectors and people who just love handbags are discovering that the market for designer handbags is hot. Kovels’ new, just-published special report, Kovels’ Collectors Guide to Handbags, helps buyers know the best bags to look for and what to pay for them. With pictures, prices, histories and marks, Kovels’ new report is the must-have accessory to help identify “collectible” bags that might be found as bargains at garage sales and thrift stores. The Kovels' list 5 top vintage bags to look for:

1. Chanel classic Flap bag. An icon of 20th-century fashion, Chanel’s quilted leather Flap bag is the most popular and sought-after bag on the resale market. A timeless shape copied by many other companies, look for a burgundy lining; quality stitching of the diamond pattern; and a gold clasp, not a silver magnet.

2. Louis Vuitton Speedy bag. The Speedy was introduced as a smaller version of Louis Vuitton’s 1930 Keepall bag, and it’s the first bag the brand sold for everyday use. While the size and material of the bag has been re-imagined over the years, the classic shape remains the same. Buyers should beware of fakes and knock-offs that have flooded the market, but authentic Vuittons can still be found mixed in with fakes at flea markets. Look for meticulous stitching. Make sure the monogram pattern is symmetric and that all of the LV logos are complete. And examine the tag to make sure the font is correct—for example, that the O’s are perfectly round, the T’s don’t touch.

3. Judith Leiber minaudieres. Among the most recognizable purses on the market, Judith Leiber’s minaudieres are little works of art almost completely covered with colored crystals. The small clutch purses are made in animal shapes like butterflies, dogs, cats, frogs, snakes, peacocks, and elephants; flowers like roses and pansies; cakes and cupcakes; and festively-wrapped gift boxes. The list goes on and on. Again, beware of knock-offs. Genuine Leiber bags do not have embossed serial numbers and are lined in leather, not fabric.

4. Coach. Commonly found on racks with other affordable leather bags, Coach bags are timeless, functional and durable. Look for an authentic label, leather in good condition and original hardware.

5. Vera Bradley. Vera Bradley’s colorful quilted cotton duffels, totes, shoulder bags and backpacks have become favorites. New prints, colors and shapes come out each season. Some fans look for the newest patterns; others favor “retired” designs which are listed in a timeline on the company’s website. Check zippers, look for the Vera Bradley signature worked into the print, and open the bag to make sure there is a stitched pattern on the inside of the bag.

Kovels’ Collectors Guide to Handbags is available only from KovelsOnlineStore.com. A free supplement listing of over 200 current vintage handbag prices is included.

About Kovels.com
Kovels.com, created by Terry Kovel and Kim Kovel, provides collectors and researchers with up-to-date and accurate information on antiques and collectibles. The company was founded in 1953 by Terry Kovel and her late husband, Ralph. Since then, the Kovels have written some of America’s most popular books and articles about antiques, including the best-selling Kovels’ Antiques and Collectibles Price Guide 2016. The website, Kovels.com, online since 1998, offers more than a million free prices, and includes a free weekly email, “Kovels Komments.” It gives readers a bird’s-eye view of the market through the latest news, auction reports, a Marks Dictionary, readers’ questions and answers and much more.

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Liz Lillis

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