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[GUIDE] How to Tell If a Vintage Louis Vuitton is Real [50+ Examples]

[GUIDE] How to Tell If a Vintage Louis Vuitton is Real [50+ Examples]

Verifying vintage Louis Vuitton bags is challenging due to many reasons. In this article, we'll discuss how to tell in a vintage Louis Vuitton bag is real or fake.

Generally, to define authenticity you need to look at the consistency of engravings and stamps with the original details. But what do you do if there were multiple stamps on the vintage bags?

Due to the absence of a certain standard, vintage luxury bags are much harder to authenticate. Take any brand - Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior - on vintage items you can find practically all types of leathers and fonts. Moreover, these fonts are not similar to the today's fonts, which make vintage bags look suspicious.

 

Why Buy Vintage Louis Vuitton?

There are a few solid reasons for buying vintage Louis Vuitton bags instead of new ones. Let's see what enthusiasts and collectors have discovered over time. 

Rich history

Louis Vuitton's rich history adds an intangible value to its vintage pieces that strikes a chord with collectors and fashion enthusiasts alike.

The omnipresent French brand has been operating since 1854. That means that some of luggage items released in the beginning of the 20th century can already be considered antique.

Each vintage piece tells a story of its era, encapsulating the spirit of travel and luxury from a bygone age. They're not merely accessories; they are pieces of history that carry the mystique and romance of the past. Owning a vintage Louis Vuitton is like holding a piece of history in your hands, connecting you to the grand narrative of one of the world's most iconic luxury brands.

Better quality

The materials used in older pieces, particularly the canvas and leather, tend to be more robust and develop a rich patina over time, truly embodying the idea that some things get better with age. The meticulous attention to detail in these items is challenging to find in contemporary fast fashion. In a world of mass production, owning a piece of vintage Louis Vuitton is a testament to when luxury goods were made to last a lifetime.

Nice investment

Buying a vintage Louis Vuitton isn't just about style; it's also a smart financial choice. As many modern luxury items are mass-produced, vintage pieces become more rare and desired. Because of this rarity, vintage items often go up in value over time, especially those that are well-kept or have an important history. Owning a vintage Louis Vuitton that you take good care of can end up being more valuable in the future. This means you don't just get a beautiful piece to enjoy, but also a smart investment that could pay off down the line. Essentially, buying vintage Louis Vuitton lets you enjoy both fashion and financial benefits.

 

How to Tell If a Vintage Louis Vuitton is Real?

The first step to verifying vintage Louis Vuitton is identifying the age of the item. It's important to be able to date an item at least approximately, as this serves an important indication 

Vintage Louis Vuitton items from 1930s-1950s

Louis Vuitton did not produce any women's bags until 1930s. During this decade, several iconic handbags were introduced, such as Alma, Noe, Speedy and Keepall. Women's handbags were generally very rare for the brand at that time. Naturally, most items that remain from that era are trunks and other luggage items.

Note that the trunks are using monogram canvas that is different from the modern canvas. All monograms and symbols seem to be painted by hand, they're much less precise than the print on the bags nowadays.

authenticating louis vuitton vintage bags 1930s

 

 

Vintage Louis Vuitton items from 1960s-1980s

To verify the authenticity of vintage Louis Vuitton items from the 1960s to the 1980s, there is a specific series of steps you can follow.

1. Leather aging

Obviously, age is one of the most important characteristics that you need to take into the account when authenticating vintage Louis Vuitton bags.

Considering the aging of an item is crucial when authenticating vintage Louis Vuitton pieces because it helps in verifying the item's consistency with the time period it claims to originate from.

Vintage Louis Vuitton items, produced in different eras, exhibit specific characteristics unique to the time they were made. While we'll get back to those  characteristics later in this blog post, let's review the most important factors.

For instance, the materials used, such as the canvas and leather, age in a particular manner that is consistent with the item's age. Over years, genuine Louis Vuitton leather develops a unique patina, a natural darkening of the material, which is highly regarded and expected in authentic vintage items.

It's worth mentioning though that replicas, especially vintage replicas, might also use real leather that will darken over time.

vintage louis vuitton leather - replica



Thus, considering an item's aging is not merely about looking for signs of wear and tear but understanding and identifying the natural aging process of materials and the evolution of manufacturing techniques over time. Such knowledge is indispensable for accurately authenticating vintage Louis Vuitton items, distinguishing genuine pieces from counterfeits, and ultimately preserving the integrity and value of these luxury collectibles.

2. Typical design elements (Round patches)

Some vintage Louis Vuitton bags produced around the 1970s incorporated round leather patches as part of their design. Mostly, these items were produced in the US and sold by Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and other reputable luxury retailers.

how to tell if a vintage louis vuitton bag is real - 1970s LV Saks

These oval leather patches were primarily designed for hot-stamping the luggage owner's initials. Hot stamping has been a part of the French brand's image for decades, way before the brand established stores that offer hot stamping on luggage tags and handbags. That's why these oval patches were usually free of any stamps or symbols.

how to tell if vintage louis vuitton is real or fake hot stamping

Replicas often overlook the rich history of Louis Vuitton. A common feature of many Louis Vuitton knockoffs is a heat stamp located on an oval patch, which typically includes the brand name. Additionally, this stamp often features the LV monogram, mirroring the pattern found on the canvas.

how to tell if a vintage louis vuitton bag is real - fake

Louis Vuitton never used this type of heat stamp. Thus, whenever you see something like this, it should be regarded as a red flag clear sign that the item was not created by Louis Vuitton.

how to tell if a vintage louis vuitton bag is real - authentic vs fake

 

3. Hardware Brands

Paying attention to the hardware is paramount when authenticating vintage Louis Vuitton pieces, as it serves as one of the most telling indicators of an item's authenticity. Over the years, Louis Vuitton has utilized high-quality metals and specific design details in their hardware that are meticulously crafted and often difficult for counterfeiters to replicate accurately. For example, genuine Louis Vuitton hardware typically showcases consistent coloration, precise engraving, and high-quality finish that remains consistent through years of use. The zippers, locks, and metal plaques found on vintage Louis Vuitton items not only bear the brand’s distinctive insignia but are also known for their durability and unique patina that develops over time.

Over the years, Louis Vuitton has been using a variety of hardware on their items. Depending on the era, a variety of suppliers were used, including Eclair, C&C, Talon any many more. That's also one of the reasons why telling authentic vintage LV bags from replicas is so challenging. 

If you'd want to learn a single trick that would do the thing, there's simply no pattern. 

So how do you authenticate a vintage Louis Vuitton item based on hardware?

When authenticating a vintage Louis Vuitton bag, one detail to examine is the zipper puller. Contrary to what one might expect, vintage bags from this French company did not feature monogrammed hardware. At the time, Louis Vuitton sourced spare parts from external suppliers, and as such, monogrammed zipper pullers were not introduced until the 1980s—only a few years prior to the implementation of date codes. Therefore, if you encounter a bag with a monogrammed zipper puller that purports to be from before the 1980s, this would be cause for skepticism regarding its authenticity.

how to tell if vintage louis vuitton is authentic - fake hardware

Moreover, Louis Vuitton has made subtle changes to its hardware designs over the decades, making it crucial for authenticators to be knowledgeable about these historical variations. For instance, the transition from brass to a golden brass or the introduction of a specific type of lock at a certain time period can offer clues to an item's authenticity and age. Counterfeits may overlook these nuances or use hardware that feels lighter, looks overly shiny or tarnishes easily, betraying the item's lack of authenticity. Therefore, a thorough examination of the hardware can provide invaluable insights when determining the legitimacy of vintage Louis Vuitton merchandise.

At Bagaholic, we have previously created a detailed guide on vintage Louis Vuitton zippers, so you might want to check it out.

 

4. Stitching

Louis Vuitton's more recent bags and small leather goods are characterized by their signature yellow-colored stitching, a unifying detail across the brand's standard range, with exceptions made for limited editions. But what about the vintage bags?

When it comes to vintage Louis Vuitton, consistency in stitching styles is notably absent. The one consistent fact is that the stitching on vintage bags bears no resemblance to that on newer models.

Specifically, bags produced by the French company in the 1970s often featured white stitches on the handles, marking a distinct contrast from the yellow stitching that has become a hallmark of their more contemporary counterparts.

how to tell if vintage louis vuitton is real or fake white stitching

It's also not surprising to see brown stitching, mainly on the bottom of the bag

 

5. Tags and stamps

To prevent counterfeiters from copying their bags, top luxury bag brands incorporate various intricate details into their products, making them harder to replicate.

These details include specialized hardware and specific tags or stamps that provide information about when and by which company the item was made, as well as its original place of purchase.

As you may have noticed by now, there remains a significant inconsistency among these tags and marks.

Focusing on antique Louis Vuitton trunks from the 1890s to the 1920s, you will find a multitude of stamping styles. The oldest pieces often include stamps indicating the store where the item was purchased, such as Saks Fifth Avenue—an essential detail that adds to their historical authenticity.

antique louis vuitton trunks stamps

A few decades later, Louis Vuitton has made a decision to indicate the addresses of their stores worldwide, which was typical for luxury brands of that time (think Gucci).

how to tell if vintage louis vuitton is real or fake trunks

 

Items from the 1970s were produced by the French Company under a special license from Louis Vuitton. Basically, this company was given the right to manufacture bags with Louis Vuitton brand's characteristics. This was indicated on a special tag inside the bag.

vintage louis vuitton bag french company tag

During that period, various types of identification plates and tags were utilized. Initially, older items featured a laminated white paper tag that stated:

"Louis Vuitton, Partis, France, Manufactured by French Co. USA under a special license"

how to tell if a vintage louis vuitton bag is real - yellow tag French Co 1

After a few years, this approach was altered; the brand switched to using a paper tag that was attached to the inside of the purse. It was a yellow tag that stated: 

"Manufactured in the USA under special license to the French Co. The Vuitton fabric pattern is a registered trademark of Vuitton et Fils"

how to tell if a vintage louis vuitton bag is real - yellow tag French Co

 

For mor information, explore our detailed guide on vintage Louis Vuitton French company heat stamps.

In the late 1970s to early 1980s, Louis Vuitton began introducing leather heat stamps, which bear a resemblance to what is seen on their handbags today. These stamps are colorless and display the inscription "LOUIS VUITTON PARIS made in France."

how to tell if a vintage louis vuitton bag is real - heat stamp 1970s

 

 

 

However, a significant challenge in identifying authentic heat stamps arises from the fact that Louis Vuitton has used various fonts and types of leather over the years, resulting in a lack of visual consistency across different items.

how to tell if a vintage louis vuitton bag is real - heat stamp 1970

Each heat stamp, while authentic, can look distinctly different from others, depending on the era of production and the specific design choices made at the time.

vintage louis vuitton wallet heat stamp

This variability requires a keen eye and in-depth knowledge of the brand's evolving aesthetic and manufacturing choices to accurately authenticate products, highlighting the intricacy and uniqueness embedded in Louis Vuitton's history of craftsmanship.

vintage louis vuitton stamp

 

 

Summary

If you learned something new, share this article!

Need to authenticate a vintage Louis Vuitton item? Take advantage of our 25+years of experience with preloved luxury items and Louis Vuitton brand in particular.

Choose one of the three types of authentication:

Verbal Authentication $10

  • good when you need to know whether the bag is real or fake for yourself (e.g. when you are buying an item)

Certificate of Authenticity $25

  • good when you need a certificate for any reason, either to sell the bag with the peace of mind or to return a fake bag to the seller if you purchased a fake
  • includes a permanent certificate on lvbagaholic.com

Certificate of Authenticity with a thorough explanation $50

  • good when you need a certificate and you need to know why the bag is authentic/not authentic for any reason, either to sell the bag with the peace of mind or return a fake bag to the seller if you purchased a fake.
  • includes a permanent certificate on lvbagaholic.com
  • includes an explanation of why the item is fake (detailed pictures and comparisons with an authentic bag, more than 10 pics included)

PLEASE CHOOSE ONE OF THE OPTIONS BELOW

 

 

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