A Little Knowledge Can be Dangerous, or “An Easy Way to Tell if That Vintage Chanel Bag is a Fake”

I don’t know whether to call this a sad story, or a tale about one of the times when I thought I knew too much. On this particular day I had more cash in my pocket than I normally have when I go to garage sales, or estate sales, about $900.  My first stop was at a moving sale where the people were moving out of the country and everything was for sale.  I spent close to $300 and the most expensive thing about was $15.  Prices were very good.

My next stop was an estate sale.  Three daughters were handling the estate of their mother who had passed at the ripe old age of 92.  Both parents had been professional dancers and had traveled the world on tour with a dance show.  The first thing that caught my eye was a table full of Coco Chanel purses, handbags, clutches, shoulder bags, wallets etc.  There were about twenty of the Coco Chanel goodies.  Prices ranged from $90 to $800 depending on the age and condition of the item.   My knowledge of Chanel products was very limited and I didn’t feel comfortable spending that kind of money on something that was new to me.  So, I left the sale and went home, just a couple of miles away, to research Coco Chanel Purses and handbags. After spending ten minutes or so on the computer I felt that I knew enough to make an investment in one of the Chanel pieces.  When I got back to the sale all but seven of the bags were gone and two of those were Bottega Veneta brand, something I’d never heard of.  I decide to play if safe and but one of the older, no so expensive Chanel bags.  The bag I had really wanted was gone and what I should have done is leave the sale, or look at other things beside the bags.  Anyway, I picked out a nice $130 off white little clutch that the daughter said her Mom had bought in Paris sometime in the 80’s.  The label in the bag said, made in France so that seemed to check out.  The bag didn’t have the hologram, or serial number that Chanel bags are supposed to have, but I had just read that Chanel didn’t start numbering their bags until 1986.  OK, the bag looked and felt like quality,  like a $2000 bag, and since Mom bought it in Paris in the 80’s it must be one of those that they made before they started with the serial numbers.  I’m going to buy the bag and sell it for six or eight hundred, probably. I called the daughter over and tried to negotiate the price.  I offered $100, she said no, I offered $110, she declined. She said she had to get $130 for it because the three daughters had agreed not to drop the prices on any of her Mom’s clothes, accessories, or jewelry.  I still had a pocket full of cash so I gave her the $130 and went on to the next sale, feeling pretty good about my purchase.

A few weeks later, I decided to list the bag on ebay to make a quick few hundred dollars.  I took some nice photos and listed the bag around 7:00 PM on a Saturday.  Then I went to hang out with some friends.  Sunday morning, when I checked my email, I had an email from ebay saying that they had removed the listing for the Chanel bag because it was a fake.  They said if I re-listed it they would suspend my account.  I’ve sold almost 2,000 things, with no problems, on ebay and I certainly didn’t want my account suspended.  My feedback is 100% positive so I’m not going to test them.  I tried to give the bag to my neighbor, but she said she never goes anywhere to use it.  She said I should give it to my daughter who lives in North Carolina.  I called my daughter and she already had three of the Chanel fakes that she bought at a flea market.  I tried to give it to my Granddaughter but she said she doesn’t carry a purse and if she did that one would be too small.  I came close to putting it in the dumpster behind the ABC Liquor store  across the street, but I didn’t.  I thought about keeping it to remind me of my mistake, but as time passed I felt sure I would never make that mistake again.  I have a shop on ETSY, so I decided to sell it there and just say it’s a fake and tell how you can tell it’s a fake.  Sunday, at about 9:00 PM, I listed the bag on Etsy with a title and a description that both said it was a fake.  I priced it at $35.  In the description I said, “don’t tell your friends it’s a fake and they will probably never know; if one of them says it’s a fake, just say “Yeah, I know, but I only paid $35 for it.”  About 10:00 PM i got an email from ETSY saying the bag sold.  I lost $95 on the deal, but I learned two valuable lessons. Lesson number one is don’t be too anxious to buy something at an estate sale.  I should have done more research before spending $130.  If I had I would have learned how to tell if a Chanel bag is real, or fake.  Lesson number two is how to tell if a Chanel purse, or bag is authentic, genuine, or real.  It’s so simple.  Just look at the zipper pulls.  Genuine Chanel bags have “Chanel” imprinted on one side of the zipper pull and the Coco Chanel logo on the other side.  I had to read through several web sites to find that little bit of information.  Hopefully it might help someone avoid buying a fake Chanel bag.