Sunday, August 19, 2012

How to Date Vintage Bags + Sneak Peek

Dating vintage pieces can be a tricky affair. I'll share a few helpful tips and tricks I've learned. Then, I'll put them to work to show you how I determined the age of some vintage handbags. Each of these purses will soon be available for purchase in my shop!

Tips & Tricks for Dating Vintage Items:
  • Is there a brand label? How about a trademark (™) or registered mark (®)? The following sources are great for researching these identifiers.
    • Vintage Fashion Guild Label Resource - Fairly comprehensive list of vintage designers and brand labels. Each designer or brand has its own page that tells the history and lists examples of labels from different eras. This website has many other useful pages that are chock full of information.
    • Trademarkia - Just type the mark into the search bar. As long as a registration has been applied for at some point, you should be able to find what you are looking for. The thing I love about this resource is that you are able to see when the particular mark was first used commercially. For example, even if a registration wasn't applied for until 1980, you can still see that the trademark was first used in 1968. They also list if/when the registration expired. Say it expired in 1990. You now know that your item had to have been made between 1968 and 1990!
    • US Patent and Trademark Office Search (I've found this to be a bit more difficult to use than Trademarkia, but it has also been more informative at times.)
  • How is the piece constructed? Does it have pinked or serged seams? What type of zippers are present? I've only mentioned two of the many ways that the construction of a piece can help to identify the era in which it was produced. Here are a few amazing guides by other bloggers. I reference these often!

Estimated Era: 60s/70s
Label: Bags by Patricia
First use of TM: 1968 [Bags by Patricia on Trademarkia]
TM Expired: 1992
Other details to note: Metal zipper, vivid colors, cursive script on logo

We know this bag was made pre-1992, so it is definitely vintage. The use of the metal zipper, the typeface of the logo, and the vivid colors all suggest 1960s. However, this could have been early 1970s.
Estimated Era: 1960s/1970s
Label: John Romain
First use of TM: 1959 [John Romain on Trademarkia]
Registered: 1987
TM Expired: 2008
Other details to note: No ™ or ® present. Woven raffia/straw.

John Romain bags of this style were popular in the 1960s and 1970s. The lack of a trademark symbol indicates this bag was made pre-1987.
Estimated Era: 80s
Label: The Original T. Cappelli Plano, Texas
First use of TM: 1986 [T. Capelli on Trademarkia]
TM Expired: January 1993
Other details to note: Bright colors, southwestern flair

Since the TM expired at the beginning of 1993, it is safe to say this is a vintage bag. The color scheme and theme of this bag are suggestive of 1980s trends.

I hope this helps someone at least a little. :) If you have any questions or sources to share, please place them in a comment below!


  1. This is great! I think I'm going to try this on that Dior overcoat I found at Goodwill.

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    Thank you,

    Ali =)

  3. Found you from the VWAV team! Great advice. Love your blog!