Handbags and Accessories

6 Insider Tips to Buying Hermes Bags at Auction

By Lucy Bishop
Shop Hermes Bags for Immediate Shipping or BID on Hermes Bags at Auction

Insider's Guide to Buying Hermès Bags at Auction

If you are new to purchasing Hermès bags at auction, our Handbag Specialists have provided their top six insider tips. Sotheby's is a leading seller of pristine and excellent condition Hermès bags. Buyers can purchase via auctions in Hong Kong, New York, Paris or Geneva. Expect to find both store fresh condition bags from the past 12 months to incredibly rare vintage Hermès bags. Each sale has a unique selection of Hermès bags so make sure to mark your calendars for our upcoming sales. You can expect to find a great assortment of Birkins and Kelly bags and other classic Hermès bags like the Constance, Evelyne, Picotin, Lindy and more. Most sales are open for two weeks and you can find the entire selection online. You can always contact a Handbag Specialist to learn more about a specific bag or request additional images. All sales also have an exhibit where you can arrange to view a bag.

Birkin 25 Alligator Vert D'Eau

1. Want more than Two Quota Bags per Year

While we highly encourage building a relationship with an Hermès SA to purchase Birkin and Kelly bags from the boutique, many collectors want more than two quota bags (Birkin or Kelly bags) per year. It can also be difficult to get a basic neutral leather bag in your preferred size, color, hardware and material. It can also be very challenging to get offered a bag in one of Hermès' newest colors or styles when you want a very specific bag that is either very popular or rare. Buying an Hermès bag at Auction allows you to buy more than two quota bags per year. You also have the opportunity to select the exact color, material, hardware and size versus just accepting the bag offered by your SA.

Hermès Mini Kelly II 20 Gris Tourterelle and Mauve Pale Chèvre Mysore HSS Permabrass Hardware, 2024

2. Skip the Line

If you can't wait for your Hermès SA due to an upcoming gifting event, buying at auction is a great option. While a store fresh Birkin or Kelly bag at Sotheby's is likely to sell for a premium relative to the boutique price, there is a possibility the premium will be less than the fixed Buy Now prices. In general, auction reserves start below the full market value and depending on the bag, color, style etc, the prices at auction can vary relative to Buy Now. In some cases, the price for a bag can be much higher due to demand for that bag in that market or the bag is not available on any fixed price channel. Buying at auction is a great alternative if can't wait for your Hermès SA.

Limited Edition Hermès Midas Kelly 25 Sellier Black Box 18K Yellow Gold Hardware, 2023

3. Access to Newest Limited Edition Hermès Bag

The Fringe Birkin or the Sac Birkin Sellier Anate were introduced as part of Hermès F/W 2023 collection. Sotheby's handbag auctions are often the first place you will see the latest Hermès limited edition bags available after the runway. Our global seller network are often the first to purchase these bags from Hermès so you will often find them at Sotheby's soon after they reach top buyers.

Hermès Mini Kelly 20 I Black Shiny Porosus Crocodile 18K Yellow Gold and Diamond Hardware, 1990s

4. Rare Vintage Hermès Bag

Most Sotheby's auctions have a selection of rare vintage Hermès bags that are either discontinued or have aged with a patina that can't be matched by a new bag. Some Hermès materials like Box leather are especially collectible due to the aging of the leather that ends up creating a unique patina that many collectors adore. The patina also makes each bag a one of one. The vintage mini Kelly shoulder is an example of a discontinued style that has gained in popularity in the last few years as collectors want more mini Hermès bags. Collectors looking for larger Birkin and Kelly bags should also seek out vintage Hermès bags if they are looking for a lower entry price point that is closer to current retail and in some cases priced below current retail.

Hermès 18K Rose Gold and Diamonds Collier de Chien Bracelet

5. Don't Miss No Reserve Hermès

Sotheby's Handbag Auctions always feature collectible Hermès accessories and bags priced at No Reserve. All bidding starts at $1 for these items. While an Hermès item has never sold for $1, there are often highly collectible home accessories, jewelry and other collectibles that are fun to browse and discover. These items are often new or in pristine condition. Sotheby's auctions are a great place to discover the range of Hermès products and potentially be the winning bidder at a great value.

Hermès Blanc Matte Niloticus Himalaya Crocodile Kelly 25 Retourné 18 K White Gold Paved Diamond Hardware, 2022

6. Hermès Price Discovery

If you are new to handbag auctions, reviewing prior auction results is a good way to understand secondary market pricing and the difference between auction versus fixed price. You can also contact a Handbag Specialist if you have questions about pricing or looking for a specific Hermès bag.

Need an Hermès Bag Right Now

Sotheby's also sells Hermès bags for immediate purchase online and at our Salons in New York, London and Bucherer in Zurich. The assortment changes regularly but there is always a selection of Birkins, Kelly Bags and other popular styles like the Constance, Evelyne or Picotin. If you have an immediate gifting occasion or prefer not to wait, Sotheby's Buy Now selection includes store fresh bags from 2024 and 2023 along with older bags that are still in excellent condition. You can also arrange to see a bag at the salon with an appointment.

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