An Hermès dark brown matt crocodile Birkin bag, 2008

Bonhams bags £1/2 million with private collection of iconic Hermès handbags

100% sold after fierce competition in packed sale room

Jewellery Including Fine Hermès Handbags
16 May 2012
London, Knightsbridge
An Hermès dark brown matt crocodile Birkin bag, 2008

A selection of sixty-four iconic Hermès bags in mint condition from a private collection realised a total of £562,750 at the Jewellery sale, that took place today (16th May) at Bonhams, Knightsbridge. Interest from a packed saleroom and bidders both online and on the telephone, meant the majority of the bags far exceeded their estimate and the total realised was over double the presale estimate.

Included in the sale were the renowned 'Kelly', 'Birkin' and smaller 'Constance' bags among a selection of handbags dating from the 1950s – 2008.

The 'Birkin' was named after British actress Jane Birkin, who had a chance meeting with Jean-Louis Dumas ,the chairman of Hermès, and explained to him that it had been difficult to find a leather weekend bag she liked. The bag can still be made to order and the design is one of the most recognised in the fashion industry.

The top lot of the sale was a 2008 Hermès dark brown matt crocodile Birkin bag that sold for £37,250 after much enthusiastic bidding (est. £8,000 – 12,000). A second dark brown matt crocodile Birkin bag from 2003 sold for £30,000 (est. £8,000 – 12,000). Other Birkin bags included a 2003 black patent crocodile bag that sold for £26,250, a 2005 tan leather togo bag that sold for £10,000 and a 2003 orange togo leather bag that also sold for £10,000.

Further highlights of the sale included a selection of Kelly bags. In 1956, a photo of Grace Kelly, who had become the new Princess of Monaco, was pictured carrying the Hermès Sac à dépêches bag to hide her pregnancy. Photographs were sent all over the world and put on the cover of Life magazine. As a result, the bag became known as the 'Kelly' and has been hugely popular ever since. An Hermès black patent crocodile Kelly bag, 1999 sold for £21,250 (est. £4,000 – 6,000), an Hermès dark green patent crocodile Kelly bag, 1998 sold for £18,750 (est. £3,000 – 5,000) and an Hermès light brown patent crocodile Kelly bag, 2003 sold for £16,250 ((est. £3,000 – 5,000).

A number of smaller 'Constance' bags were also offered in the sale, including two Hermès crocodile Constance bags that sold for £21,250 (est. £1,500-2,500) and three Hermès togo leather Constance bags sold for £8,125 (est. £1,200 – 1,800).

Carole Gordon, Head of the Jewellery Department at Knightsbridge comments, "Hermès is renowned for its handmade luggage and handbags and one craftsperson makes a single handbag at a time, hand-stitching individual pieces. It is clear that the level of craftsmanship seen in this collection resulted in a huge amount of interest by clients at an international level who were prepared to pay top prices for these highly coveted items."


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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