Christie’s Christmas vintage handbag auction

Rare and exceptional finds promise to break records and look fantastic under the tree

Rare Hermès 2010 Niloticus crocodile Birkin 35 with 18ct white-gold and diamond hardware, estimate £100,000-£150,000
Rare Hermès 2010 Niloticus crocodile Birkin 35 with 18ct white-gold and diamond hardware, estimate £100,000-£150,000

The collector market for pre-owned rare handbags is flourishing according to Christie’s expert Rachel Koffsky, and with almost 230 lots, the auction house’s third King Street, St James’s, handbags and accessories sale, on December 12, will be the largest in London so far.

Clockwise from top: Hermès 2006 leather Birkin 42 with palladium hardware, estimate £2,000-£3,000; 2016 leather Constance 24 with gold hardware, estimate £4,000-£5,000; and 1985 lizard micro-mini Kelly 15 with gold hardware, estimate £5,000-£7,000
Clockwise from top: Hermès 2006 leather Birkin 42 with palladium hardware, estimate £2,000-£3,000; 2016 leather Constance 24 with gold hardware, estimate £4,000-£5,000; and 1985 lizard micro-mini Kelly 15 with gold hardware, estimate £5,000-£7,000

Koffsky believes records may be broken at the auction – a rare, matte Himalayan Niloticus crocodile Hermès Birkin with white-gold and diamond hardware could top the £162,000 achieved for a similar bag this year, while a matte-white alligator double flap Chanel bag with white-gold and diamond detailing, estimated at up to £70,000, could set a new high for the brand. Koffsky has also noted a growing interest in lizard – a material discontinued by Hermès for many models – and she says the material is in high demand in micro sizes; the auction includes micro-mini Kelly 15s from 1985 in red or bright green lizard (estimated at £5,000 to £7,000).

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Hermès forms the bulk of the sale. Neutral or dark Kelly or Birkin bags fetch between £4,000 and £6,000, while an alligator equivalent would average around £15,000 – up to £20,000-plus for fashionable bright shades. Simpler designs have significantly lower price tags – a soft orange Birkin designed by Jean Paul Gaultier in 2006 is estimated at £2,000 to £3,000, and a red leather classic Constance from 2016 is expected to fetch between £4,000 and £5,000.

From left: Louis Vuitton 2003 limited edition monogrammed Superflat jewellery box No 39 by Takashi Murakami, estimate £1,500-£2,000; and 2018 leather Epi trunk clutch by Nicolas Ghesquière, estimate £1,000-£1,500
From left: Louis Vuitton 2003 limited edition monogrammed Superflat jewellery box No 39 by Takashi Murakami, estimate £1,500-£2,000; and 2018 leather Epi trunk clutch by Nicolas Ghesquière, estimate £1,000-£1,500

Other creations to watch include quirky, limited edition Chanel evening bags – some in Lucite and gilt – including a 2018 Athenian owl motif and a 2016 gilded-cotton Spool bag referencing Coco Chanel’s childhood in an orphanage, where she learnt to sew (both are estimated at £3,000 to £4,000). And those looking to snap up a bargain can get their hands on a very rare 1991 extra-long East-West clutch for £1,000 to £1,500.

From top left: Chanel 2018 limited edition Lucite and gold Owl evening bag, estimate £3,000-£4,000; 2016 limited edition Lucite and gold Spool evening bag, estimate £3,000-£4,000; and 1991 rare extra-long satin East-West flap clutch with gold hardware, estimate £1,000-£1,500
From top left: Chanel 2018 limited edition Lucite and gold Owl evening bag, estimate £3,000-£4,000; 2016 limited edition Lucite and gold Spool evening bag, estimate £3,000-£4,000; and 1991 rare extra-long satin East-West flap clutch with gold hardware, estimate £1,000-£1,500

Louis Vuitton is also represented, with highlights including a 2003 Murakami-illustrated monogram portable jewellery box (£1,500 to £2,000) and a red Epi leather trunk clutch by Nicolas Ghesquière (£1,000 to £1,500).

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