Following on from Part 1 here.
I must point out that I’m a long time vintage fan, of clothes, accessories and furniture so it was completely natural for me to seek out vintage Kelly’s at the start. All the things that attract me to vintage clothes etc.. apply to a vintage Kelly. I believe the materials and craftsmanship are superior to the modern versions and I prefer the unique look they have. My newest Kelly is from 2010, my oldest from 1968.
This is not an exhaustive list and is purely based on my own personal (mainly with box leathers at that) experiences of the past few years (but not about authenticating, ok):
- research, research, research and research some more …. into what you’d like, as I said in Part 1, there are 2 main styles and many different leathers, textures and colours with different hardware and finishes as starters. thepurseforum has a wealth of free information
- the days of scoring a relatively inexpensive vintage Kelly that’s in reasonable condition or will be with a bit of basic tlc are pretty much over so mistakes will be costly
- be honest about why and how a Kelly fits in with your style and lifestyle (including the climate/s you live in), whether you are prepared to maintain the bag yourself or rely on Hermès to ‘spa’
- the places to look at are basically all over: the corners, the base, the sides (especially where the leather folds), the straps all the way round, the flap, the handle (top and underside), handle bases, the turnlock and of course everywhere inside since there could be cracks, loose stitching, tears, stains etc that can’t be seen from the outside but may matter a lot
- the leather itself is important since there is a lot between a leather that simply needs a once over maintenance home treatment and one that’s dry to the point of falling apart (dry rot) in the case of box leathers. Some other leather are naturally more moist or at least less prone to drying out
- the stitching is just as important all the way through, sometimes it’s pretty obvious where a repair has been attempted. The vintage Kelly will typically have smaller stitches throughout and remember they are done by hand by a single Artisan
- more about stitching: I have a thing about contrast stitching and some colours/leather combinations have it eg Brique which is a reddish brown and of course as you learn more, this feature will help identify certain colours and leathers
- if you are looking at one in real life you may wish to discreetly scratch the base of the bag to see if there’s a coating on the surface or indeed if the colour comes away – quelle horreur! I mention it out of experience due to the poor bag having been entirely painted over and the paint peeled off not unlike from a wall …. You will be alerted by the lack of a lovely leather scent so by all means use all your senses plus intuition! It’s much more difficult if looking online of course but you will get used to ‘reading’ photos and seeing how real colours and leathers look
- accessories such as the keys and lock aren’t important to me since I rarely use them anyway but for some they are the essential part of the whole package. That said, a matching strap for my 28 sizes is very much appreciated since I do always use them
- don’t assume Hermès will be able to repair and spa a bag – in fact assume the opposite and go from there – yes they do fabulous tricks but they’re not miracle workers and besides the time and cost could be prohibitive – just move on and find one in a better condition!
- the occasional treasure does appear but you have to be quick, very quick indeed so all the more reason to be prepared and ready to jump on it
- don’t be put off by the nature of box leather: easily scratched, scuffed, blisters in the rain and can look very glossy. It is one of the leathers that can last decades, nay, generations when well looked after either at home or by Hermès and can be made rain proof. Over time, scratches and scuffs merge becoming less noticeable as the leather ages and gains a patina which is the natural glossiness it’s earned
- the same could be said about a variation of box called Swift (formerly called Gulliver), that’s more matte than box and more moist – if I could change anything about my collection, I would include more Swift/Gulliver in a heartbeat!
- more about variation, a given colour may look quite different in different leathers and in different production years eg the classic burgundy Rouge H that is a cherry red for the older vintage bags in box leathers and rather brown in the newer leathers which is something that can help identify the age of a bag
- hardware is usually gold tone and worth considering carefully in the sense of variations again since some leather colours appear different with palladium hardware and you may prefer it to the gold tone eg I feel that black box leather looks deeper with golden hardware but seems softer with palladium
- you may notice that some online sellers price a Kelly strictly on how old it is and not based on the actually condition, this is a plus!I do hope sharing my experiences has helped. If you have any questions at all – fire away – I’m more than happy to answer!
Thanks for reading!