Condition ​

Vintage bag's value always depends on its condition: best condition yileds highest price. Mint condition is quite rare, and that is the reason why it took me literally a decade to sift through over 5,000 pieces in order to select 500 best examples for this status collection. Only very few unused vintage handbags can be qualified as mint: the ones that are truly flawless, coming in their original packaging and showing virtually no traces of use, repair, or restoration. Most vintage handbags have survived with some flaws, and it is important to know how to assess their condition properly in order to evaluate their importance as a collectible and establish the right market price.

Not long ago, the supply of fine vintage was limited to live auctions, estate sales, antique stores, and vintage boutiques run by experts. Today, buying opportunities are endless, including online purchases. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to rely on the opinion of online sellers when it comes to value and condition, because very few specialize in upscale vintage exotics. Whether you’re a serious collector, a fashionista looking for a funky piece, or a dealer searching for good inventory at affordable prices, what you need is a buying strategy—and, simple safety tips: 


  1. Preferably buy brand-name bags to avoid imitations. See our list of Top 20 mid-century designer brands for the best makers. 

  2. Inspect the bag for authenticity to make sure it is genuine skin, and not embossing.

  3. Inspect it for flaws to assure best possible condition, which determines the price.  





Needless to say, it is much safer to buy vintage in person. Online auctions and sales are usually non-refundable. Thus, it is almost impossible to correct a judgment mistake after the fact. Since people see things differently, it is unlikely that an online dealer has the same standards as you do. To avoid disappointment and to match your expectations, be prepared to ask a lot of questions.


Popular collectibles are often over forty years old; therefore, it is unrealistic to expect the bags that are advertised as ‘mint’ or ‘excellent’ to look “like new.” Thus, it is very important to know the condition criteria and the inspection tips, in order to make the correct buying decision. 


  1. MINT: very rare; no signs of use or age, no repair; no odor; original packaging or tags

  2. NEAR MINT: quite rare; flawless; no repair; minor clean-up; pristine, intact; odor-free 

  3. EXCELLENT: no noticeable wear or flaws; if any, very minor; refurbished; clean, no odor

  4. VERY GOOD: minor wear; no cracks/dryness/rips/tears/odor; clean interior; minor flaws

  5. GOOD: some wear; few minor flaws that have been mended; interior may have marks

  6. FAIR: wearable with flaws; may have mended or replaced parts; cleanable; faint odor

  7. POOR: dry rot, tear, significant wear, broken parts, odor; beyond repair.

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