• Vintage Coach Bags – Review, Shopping & Care / Cleaning Tips

    Today’s review is on a bag that has been a much-loved addition to my small purse collection. Coach was the first designer brand I spent my teenage earnings on, but I only had eyes for their canvas logo print at the time. I have since sold all of those bags, but have discovered a new-found love for the brand through their beautiful leather pieces from the past.

    Coach Court Bag – Review
    I first saw a pre-owned version of this Coach Court bag on a similar-sized friend (thanks, Ali!) and was quickly sold on the quality and versatility. For reference, I am 5 feet tall and this bag is a very proportional size for cross-body wear. Below are some of the measurements and features:

    coachcourtbag

    circa 1998 navy blue Court bag purchased via eBay (around $45)

    The overall look and features are very similar to the J.Crew Edie bag (currently an extra 40% off plus free shipping with code STYLE40, see my review), except it is less structured. I considered several vintage Coach options before buying my Edie, but was deterred by the raw leather lining, as well as the high going prices of the red versions. Both are great as everyday bags if you don’t carry much, but the Edie’s boxier structure makes it more dressy (as worn here to a wedding), and the Court bag’s soft shape and cross-body strap make it more casual.
    coachcourtbag2

    Vintage Coach Bags – Other Popular Styles
    After I added this bag to my collection, I couldn’t resist learning more about the other styles and colors available. Some of the most common styles I saw while combing the second-hand market (several of which are still offered in Coach’s current line, with slight changes) are:
    coachcourtbag1

    Image sources: my own, Google images, and here

    These also were the most popular colors that I came across in my search – British tan (the caramel brown), navy, red, hunter green (love it), black, and dark chocolate brown (not pictured above)…

    Personally, I prefer buying such bags on the second-hand market for greater color and style selection, plus added character. The older leathers also feel different from those in-stores now even for the same styles – I don’t know what the difference is exactly, but it feels less treated/coated. Lastly, there’s no better testament to item quality and longevity than finding an old bag in excellent condition.

    Re-sizing Straps – I received this question from readers and figured it is widely applicable for several styles of bags. If strap length is usually an issue for you, make sure to look for styles that have adjustable straps with buckles (some Coach straps are not adjustable, as shown above). My adjustable strap was still too long for me at the shortest hole, but no biggie….
    coach court bag1
    If you don’t have a leather hole puncher by now, then you’ve been seriously missing out. It’s great for both men (my Dad makes special requests for me to bring mine home) and women for adding extra sizes to belts, handbag straps, and even leather ankle shoe straps. Since the extra length of the strap on my bag was so long, I looped it around as shown above, and securely tucked the end through the small holder loop.

    Vintage Coach Bags – Shopping Tips
    – If looking on eBay with a specific budget, be patient with your search because there are tons of new options listed every week for pre-owned Coach. I recommend using the filters on the side for “leather” only, narrowing it down to the color(s) you want, then filtering from price low to high. I don’t recommend including any style names or numbers in the search box, as many listings are not labeled with such.

    – Be sure to read the listings carefully for measurements (or ask) as several styles may look similar, but could be very different in size. I was watching several bags that looked just like small crossbodys, but upon receiving the measurements they turned out to be large messenger bags that could even fit a laptop.

    – I could not find great guides on signs of authentic vs. counterfeit Coach leather bags, but general guidance is to inspect leather quality and bag craftsmanship for any non-symmetrical sides, crooked or non-even stitching, peeling material that looks like cardboard, etc.

    – Make sure you see a photo of the creed tag containing a serial number (implemented only in 1994 +) and “made in” information. Carefully compare details of the creed tag to make sure that 1) the style # matches the actual style of the bag, 2) the style of the creed tag is appropriate for the time period that the date code implies, and 3) the numbers, letters, and stitching (if applicable, since tags from some time periods are not stitched on) on it are even. For example, my bag has the following creed tag:

    coachcourtb ag3

    Overall, looking at the tag alone doesn’t really gauge authenticity, but does inform you about the bag. My evaluation based on the above steps, using this handy resource as a guide:

    1) Style # is 9870 per the guide, which corresponds to “Court bag.” I searched images of “Court bags” online which looks right.

    2) The creed tag here is not a separate tag stitched on – it is embossed directly on the interior. According to the guide, this is common for bags made in 1990s-2000s. Per the guide, “The first letter is the month, in order from A for January, all the way through M for December, skipping I for clarity because I was too easy to mistake for 1. The second number is the year the bag was made, 4 for 1994, 3 for 2003, and 04 for 2004, with double numbers being used for every year after 2004. The third or fourth number in the creed is the factory designation number. I don’t think Coach has ever released a list of these numbers and what they stand for to the public.

    Based on this info, my bag was made in October of 1998 in Costa Rica. There’s different standards as to what can be considered “vintage” (I always thought 10-15 years), so this could be designated as just “pre-owned.”

    3) The numbers and letters look uniform and very similar to an authentic tag from 1997 posted by the guide.

    Vintage Coach Bags – Cleaning and Care
    Disinfecting – As with all pre-owned items, I recommend a thorough cleaning for sanitation purposes. I used bleach (ie. Lysol) wipes thoroughly on the inside and outside to disinfect my bag, but don’t necessary recommend this in case it might stain leathers (so please do so at your own risk). For old smells, baking soda is supposed to absorb odors, so you can try putting an Arm & Hammer packet or small open baking soda box into the interior of the bag, and letting it sit inside for a day.

    Washing – Via this site, I read an interesting “how to care for your Coach bag” pamphlet issued by Coach in 1982, which offered specific instructions on washing and re-shaping a leather bag:

    My bag did not come with any visible stains, so I simply used the bleach wipes and did not attempt a bag bath. However, while browsing The Purse Forum, I read about many members who did and were happy with the results. Please keep in mind that the nature of Coach leathers have changed over the decades, and the natural- glove-tanned leather of the past feels very different from those in the retail stores today. Based on whether the leathers were treated or coated, they may react differently to being washed.
    coachcourtbag3
    As previously mentioned, the interior of older Coach bags (and maybe today’s – not sure) has a suede-like texture. Upon looking it up, this is just an un-lined interior, or “raw” side of the leather. It’s the one aspect I don’t love about the bag because I feel like it’s harder to sanitize, but the TPF members linked above mentioned using a toothbrush to give it a good scrub while washing.

    Restoring Color – My bag also did not have any faded or missing color, but I spoke with my cobbler in the past about that scenario. He suggested leather finish dye (examples) or polish which is less opaque (examples). The TPF member above also suggested using acrylic paint for small touch-ups.

    Gentle Cleaning and Conditioning – After reading Kelly’s post, I purchased some Cadillac Boot & Shoe Care leather conditioner per her suggestion. This cream supposedly “cleans, polishes, protects, and conditions” for all colors of leather. I have not conditioned this Court bag yet, but I hope it will help buff away some of the scratches. However, I did condition a vintage Station bag purchased for SewPetiteGal, and it seemed to add some luster and softness to the leather after fully drying. I do not believe this can remove any significant stains, but it may help lighten up mild ones.

    Readers – Do you have an old Coach bag that you still love, or have you also recently discovered (or re-discovered) their leather products? I would love to hear any of your own shopping or care tips for older leather bags!

     

    72 thoughts on “Vintage Coach Bags – Review, Shopping & Care / Cleaning Tips

    • PetiteAsianGirl February 20, 2013 at 2:15 am

      Such a great tip! I had no idea they did that. Now if only they'll sell replacement straps for free too (looks like several ppl are in need of one for old bags!). Happy to hear that you're happy with your purchases. The doctor speedy is a classic too – have you seen it on the blog inthecitywithcrystalin?

    • PetiteAsianGirl February 20, 2013 at 2:16 am

      Hi there – I got mine for about $40-$45 including shipping, I believe, but going prices will differ depending on condition and color.

    • PetiteAsianGirl February 20, 2013 at 2:17 am

      I sold them all via eBay – they don't command too much these days and selling fees are up to 9%, but eBay is the biggest market.

    • Julie February 20, 2013 at 9:31 am

      I LOVE the scarf you are wearing in the photo with your green jacket – did you share the source beofore and I missed it? Love your blog!

    • Anonymous February 20, 2013 at 9:52 am

      That's so odd. I checked out the creed using the info in yr post and mine was made in the same year as yours but in May 🙂 The seller told me it's supposed to be a dark navy. In any case, I still love the bag! Thanks for sharing with us 🙂

    • Anonymous February 20, 2013 at 9:54 am

      Just wanted to add that I just voted for you on ASOS! Good luck! 🙂

    • SewPetiteGal February 20, 2013 at 11:06 am

      Such an informative post! I love how you not only buy something, but you really research it and the options available AND share it with us. And with me, you did more than share 🙂 Thank you for the beautiful bag! Did you know it helped prevent a pickpocket? After stopping by a busy store in the city, I found that someone had unlatched my purse. Thankfully, the depth and width of the purse prevented them from lifting my wallet!!

    • Kellyinthecity February 20, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      This was an amazing post! I've been thinking about getting a vintage court for a while now, and this inspired me to really start looking. Thanks for all the research! 🙂

      http://www.kellyinthecity.com

    • Anonymous February 22, 2013 at 9:01 am

      What do u think abt clarisonic mia? Is it worth it?

    • Laura February 23, 2013 at 4:27 pm

      Hi! First time commenter 🙂 I just wanted to say I was also inspired to get a vintage Coach bag after your post, and I'm so happy with it! (I bought the Regina in black from eBay, around $40 total, and it's in perfect condition)

      A while back this column had a lot of Q&A; about caring for Coach bags, so it might be helpful for anyone looking on ways to clean or fixed stained items 🙂 http://thehairpin.com/2012/04/ask-a-clean-person-dude-wheres-my-coach

    • Anonymous February 23, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      Hi Jean, Thanks so much for this review! I started looking up the pocket purse after seeing how lovely vintage Coach pieces are and came across this re. the 3rd number in the creed code:

      "EXAMPLE : D9C-9966 means 'D (4th letter of alphabet, 4th month = APRIL) the 9 represents the year ( 1999 ) and C is United States. So you know by this, that the bag was made in April of 1999 in the USA. The country of origin letters vary. D is US also C and several other letters all mean US; P is Costa Rica, and so on."
      http://reviews.ebay.com/Tips-on-researching-amp-identifying-authentic-Coach-bags?ugid=10000000013774963

      So it looks like you're on the right track as the P designation for Costa Rica matches the tag. Hope that might be helpful in authenticating future bags!

    • Luen Song February 24, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      Thanks so much for this review! I absolutely love vintage Coach bags, and I currently own 2 Court bags. I find them to be the perfect size for me since I'm 5'2". You've got me lusting after the Regina and Station bag too now :p

    • Vivian February 26, 2013 at 12:54 am

      Thanks Trisha! (=
      Do you also recommend giving it a bath?
      I've thought about washing it to remove dirt, but I'm afraid since it's leather.

    • Jessica Borel February 28, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      They did have a dark navy that almost looks black.

    • Jessica Borel February 28, 2013 at 10:51 pm

      Vivian, I am one of the ones on the purse forum who gives my old leather Coach bags a bath. I probably own well over 30 vintage Coach bags and have washed dozens. Smoke smell is hard. Washing helps (smell will seem stronger while bag is wet) but honestly time, patience, and some charcoal pellets worked for me. I tried several things, including making a couple of sachets from old stockings. Fill with the type of charcoal pellets sold at pet/fish stores. Put the bag along with the sachet into a sealed sterilite type container and literally put it away for a couple of weeks minimum but it works best if repeated over a long period of time, unfortunately, depending the severity of the smoke. You could toss a box of baking soda in for good measure if you want. If you can later air the bag outside (not in direct sun) that helps too. Keep repeating variations of the above. It will help.

    • Jessica Borel February 28, 2013 at 11:00 pm

      eeek! go here first. Youll be amazed at all the helpful Coach cleaning tips. http://forum.purseblog.com/coach/coach-rehab-and-rescue-club-624452.html p.s. shoe polish as a fix will rub off on your clothes!!

    • Melissa Huynh March 11, 2013 at 8:51 am

      I was actually browsing through my mom's bag collection a little before Coach remade their signature leather line and came across this really old bag (small and rectangular, black leather, zipped opening) that she had passed down to me when I was in middle school and it became my very first purse. I was honestly surprised it was still living (lol) and while inspecting it, I thought that it was still in INCREDIBLE condition (considering that I treated it like crap when I owned it). Immediately after, I went searching for some vintage Coach leather bags on eBay and spontaneously purchased a Willis in hunter green for about $80 (actually more on the expensive side for vintage Coach, but alas, apparently green is an uncommon color). Anyway, it is my *favorite* go-to bag! (It also conveniently fits an iPad perfectly!) I was so happy when, recently, my sister made a comment about how she's been reading about a "comeback" for Coach leather goods on several fashion blogs that she follows. Now I fear prices might hike up on eBay, hahaha.

    • Anonymous May 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      Wait you didn't literally use bleach right? Wouldn't that take the color off?

    • Maria D. Dials July 18, 2013 at 6:54 am

      This is a wonderful and detailed guide! Anyway, it is my favorite go-to bag.I could definitely use if I ever buy vintage Coach.
      sound healing

    • Anna Ferguson August 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm

      …It was then that I realized I had been on this blog for an hour, and should probably stop writing down things I either wanted or had learned from this. Oops. Good use of the afternoon! But this was the post that brought me in – it was particularly helpful, as I just bought two vintage coach bags last week and didn't know how to properly care for them.

    • Jual Tas Branded September 12, 2013 at 5:30 am

      I LOVE the scarf you are wearing in the photo with your green jacket
      did you share the source before and I missed it?
      Love your blog!

    Comments are closed.