A Mini Kelly mania has overtaken Hermès collectors around the world. The highly sought-after 20cm mini-Kelly II, which was first seen in 2016, has been breaking records at auction season after season. That said, this isn’t the first 20cm Kelly that Hermès has produced. Starting around 1980, the already decades old top-handle design was adapted into its smallest iteration yet. The Sellier Kelly 20 was produced with a round bracelet-like top handle, or with a strap in its place. Around 1990, Hermès introduced the Retourne Kelly 20, which was made exclusively with the top-handle. These bags came in every imaginable material and color, with rare examples featuring printed leather or plisse silk bodies. In 2006, the 20cm Kelly was discontinued after over 25 years and countless variations, though the size would not stay gone forever. After a decade-long hiatus, Hermès brought back the 20cm Kelly, redesigned for the 21st century. The round top-handle was scaled down and the body was made slimmer for more comfortable cross-body use.
Vintage Sellier Kelly 20: The Hermès Original
Surprisingly, the original Kelly 20 was not much of a hit during its debut era. Though beloved by fashion-forward icons like Elizabeth Taylor – who had 3 in her collection – the 20cm size was generally too small for most women, especially in a time when big bags reigned supreme. Generally considered a novelty, these bags could easily be had for under $10,000 in leather, and exotic versions did not command much more. That is, up until 2018, when the new mini-Kelly 20 first came to auction. Since then, values for these highly collectible vintage bags have galloped along to keep pace with their new mini cousins. Their presence on the market has notably declined, with the average number sold at auction annually plummeting to less than two over the last three years. Today, vintage 20cm Kellys are extremely hard to find even in regular leather, and it is expected their value will continue to grow in tandem with the new mini-Kelly II for years to come.
Retourne Kelly 20: The Most Mythical Bag On The Market
While vintage 20cm Sellier Kellys are becoming increasingly scarce on the market, their Retourne sisters have become undeniably mythical. Only six regular leather versions of this style have come to auction in the last seven years, making the 20cm Retourne Kelly one of the rarest Hermès bags in existence. The last example of a regular leather 20cm Retourne Kelly to sell at auction was in 2019, and the value of one at auction today would likely be right in line with other coveted Sellier 20cm Kellys.
Mini Kelly II: The Modern Must-Have Handbag
In the six years since the mini-Kelly II was released, it’s auction prices have only gone up. This bag sells for $8,000 in Epsom and $8,500 in Chèvre, but is now selling for multiples of this value on the secondary market. This exciting new rendition of a timeless bag has proven to be a runaway success and smash hit with both experienced and young collectors. During the first years that these bags appeared at auction they averaged over $15,000, eclipsing the value of vintage 20cm Kellys from the start. Since then, prices for all 20cm Kellys have risen dramatically, with the average auction price in 2021 nearing $29,000. Each season a new record for this style is set and the trend shows no signs of abating. Exotic 20cm Kellys, though, have not experienced such a clear elevation season over season, with average auction prices varying between $32,000 and $48,000 for ostrich and lizard examples, and between $37,000 and $57,000 for alligator versions. Exotic mini-Kellys are far rarer than leather ones, and this tremendous scarcity will likely translate into record-breaking auction results in future seasons.