Classic skin bags are gorgeous, luxurious, precious, and tough. Yet they must be treated with care and stored properly to ensure maximum protection and safety.
While researching for the book, I came across a funny story on one of the purse blogs by an unidentified contributor: "In 1958, when I left for college, my father presented me with an elegant black alligator box purse. I felt so sophisticated and loved to open it as the lining was bright red leather. Years later when alligators became endangered, I put the purse away… And there it stayed until the afternoon I found it in the toilet bowl. The result of my efforts to potty-train my young son? The bottom of the purse had turned white. But to my considerable surprise, it cleaned easily. Forty years have passed and my alligator purse is still elegant on my closet shelf."
Good for her! She managed to rescue her treasure from the toilet, just in time. But if you personally do not want to take any risk with your precious collectibles, follow our useful tips on how to take care of them properly.
For details on how to protect your investment and take a great care of your vintage exotic skin handbags, check out our other tips and chapters. There you can find helpful information about the Four Cs (Condition, Craftsmanship, Circa and Color), and how to clean and care for your vintage finds.
If you keep your collection at home, consider including it in your homeowner’s insurance. Determine the replacement value and take pictures to document items in detail.
When displaying your collection in curio cabinets, use low-wattage bulbs to avoid heat damage. Remove the bags before you clean the display glass with a product such as Windex, to avoid spotting. Wait until the cabinet airs out before you put the bags back.
Store your bags flat, in strong two-piece boxes, wrapped in clean flannel dust bags or acid free tissue. Do not bend the handles! Let them lie flat, fully extended. Slightly stuff the bags with clean, acid-free tissue to preserve the shape. Keep the boxes with bags away from heat, moisture, freezing temperature, direct sunlight, and dust. Do not use plastic bags for storage. Like furs, skins need air space. Deprived of oxygen, they might go through color change.
It is important to dust your bags regularly and wipe off oily fingerprints after use. Dry rot—leather cancer—occurs when greasy dust clogs up the skin pores and traps bacteria and moisture inside, enabling mildew or rot to grow and cause deterioration of the skin. On colored skins, it shows in the form of darker, brittle spots. On black ones, it is virtually invisible. But don’t get fooled by its “innocent” appearance. A contact with moisture or an impact can cause it to break and leave ugly tears and cracks, which cannot be mended. Once the bag is damaged by dry rot, it’s gone. That is why it is so crucial to inspect every bag before purchasing. You can easily detect brittle, damaged areas by touching and flexing the skin.