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Four Cs to Remember: Circa, Condition, Craftsmanship, and Color.

Do you know why some vintage exotic skin handbags cost more than others? It is because of the Four Cs that determine their value: circa (age), condition, craftsmanship and color. The first C to note is the age of the item—or its circa—that plays an especially important role for serious collectors. For example, older pieces from a desirable era, such as 19th-century luggage or ornate Art Deco envelopes from the 1920s, are quite valuable as collectibles. If you are looking for a strong, casual vintage alligator bag to wear, you need to get a trendy purse from the 1960s—they are truly ultimate for everyday use. Funky, colorful skins from the 1940s are the best conversation pieces, while dramatic novelties from the 1950s are simply the best for special occasions. The confirmed circa, as well as its documented provenance, significantly adds to the value of a collectible.


Imagine you came across a good-looking vintage alligator bag. How do you know it is a great find? First, confirm its authenticity using our simple Authenticity Test to be sure it is genuine and not fake. Then, inspect its condition by following the steps outlined in the Condition Guide. As you might know, in real estate it is all about ‘location, location and location’. But in vintage, it is all about ‘condition, condition and condition’. If the handbag is in a miserable state and literally falling apart, you definitely don’t want it. The second C—condition—is the most important factor influencing the price of vintage. Pristine pieces in immaculate, un-restored original condition always cost more—several times more, to be exact. Damage, flaws, repair, alteration and additions decrease their value dramatically.


How well the bag is made—its craftsmanship—is the third C to always keep in mind. Workmanship is very important. Craftsmen, like artists, took incredible pride in their craft that took a lifetime to master. The level of craftsmanship, as well as the quality of its design, can be established by inspecting the specific features of the bag outlined in the Quality Guide. The quality of skins also matters. They came in various grades rated based on their flexibility and elasticity, symmetry and pattern. Some species were much more valuable than others. You wouldn’t pay as much for a KIA as you would for a Bentley, correct? Then why to pay more for an inexpensive Argentinean caiman bag if you can get a precious Crocodile Porosus or an American Alligator handbag for the same price?


The fourth C to remember is the color. Usually the trendy colors popular at the moment would be more desirable, thus expensive. The size of the bag made from a whole skin also matters in setting a price: larger are more expensive. To put it short, remember the Four Cs and you will always be able to find the best deal. 

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