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."