Specialist Rachel Koffsky reveals what smarter collectors are looking to buy right now, from Micro Minis to handbags in bright colours and limited editions — including some highly desirable pieces in our 18 September auction in New York
1. Mini handbags
When it comes to the handbag market, little packs a big punch.
At times it seems there is an inverse relationship between
size and desirability, with the most miniature iterations
of much-loved models realising top prices on the secondary
The Hermès Micro Minis are legendary among handbag collectors, as these diminutive 15 cm models have been discontinued for many years. When one comes to market in extraordinary condition, it captures the attention of top collectors.
2. Lizard-skin bags
As exotics go, lizard is among the most difficult to find because for many years production ranged from extremely limited to non-existent.
Due to the delicate nature of the rare skin, lizard is most
often utilised for small models and accessories. Ombré is
one of the most sought-after lizard effects, because it retains a beautiful, raindrop-stippled exterior.
Again, this finish is most often seen in small accessories
and the rare, occasional Birkin. When the ombré Kelly 25 pictured above came
to market in 2017, an intense bidding war resulted in a sale price of more than six times the low estimate.
Each season Hermès releases a new palette, sometimes only available for a few short months. Some new releases are immediate favourites, instantaneously in demand on the market. Bright colours — vibrant yellows, saturated blues, and popping pinks — are consistently the most sought-after hues.
Limited-edition iterations of the Birkin, Kelly and Constance have near-mythical status. These special constructions, designs and reimaginings of the house’s most iconic models are the Hermès equivalent of a bucket list. So Black Birkin? Check. Teddy Kelly? Check. Marquetry Constance? Check! When one of these special pieces appears on the auction block, collectors take notice.
5. Custom handbags
A horseshoe bag denotes a one-of-a-kind creation for a top collector. The opportunity to own a bespoke Hermès piece, with contrasting bi- or tri-colour piping, is a privilege.
The rarity of an item is strongly correlated to the uniqueness
of the customisation. For many collectors, a horseshoe exotic
is considered the holy grail.
‘Vintage’ connotes an item that hasn’t been available on the
primary market for many seasons. Often these bags have
spent years tucked away in a private collection. It is truly
a coup to secure a vintage piece in top condition.
7. Handbags with famous owners
The Elizabeth Taylor auctions at Christie’s
are widely considered to have been a watershed moment in the handbag
market. As the exceptional results of that sale proved, a
significant provenance can considerably increase a bag’s
value and desirability.
Pieces from famous collections consistently achieve top prices
at auction, as the seal of approval passes from owner to