Updated: Sep 7, 2022
**When reselling vintage Coach bags, there are some things you can look for to authenticate or date a bag yourself. (Not an official expert here or connected with Coach in anyway.) Head to my Coach Catalogue Resource for pictures of all the vintage Coach bags I have found. If you have one mentioned below, but not in the resource, considered submitting a photo to benefit the community. A lot is not officially known about when in time Coach did or didn't offer certain style and colors, but some reliable information exists and consensus in the vintage Coach community about some points which resellers can use to date and authenticate their bags. I will rely heavily on the known Coach bag catalogues in this post and other sources to try an aggregate known information for resellers to use to ID and authenticate their bags.
Don't be alarmed if your bag has no serial number or one on a glued in lozenge patch or even just a small Coach logo emboss. Very early Coach bags have no creed stamp at all, just a small metal cartouche tag that says 'Coach'. This first creed stamp (aka story patch) example is one of my oldest, I think mid/late 70s. It's from a Zippered Clutch bag which later is called a Basic Bag. In the beginning of the brand developing, around the 60s/ 70s Bonnie Cashin era, you could register your bag with the brand. That is why this example doesn't have any serial numbers. Your serial number was glued in after you registered the bag. These bags were handmade made in the New York City factory and that is stamped under the creed verbiage. You can already start getting an idea of your bag's age just by what type of logo or creed it has or doesn't have!
Another important point to make here is that based on the catalogues Coach released, they had a very limited bag assortment until the 1980's. You could not even know what colors they offered the bags in from them, so it is difficult to use colorways to rule out fakes, unless they are outlandish and known to have only been introduced in a certain era. Available styles in the 1976 catalogue for example were the Skinny Tote, Large Courier Pouch, Duffle Sac, Classic Pouch, Crescent, Handle Clutch, Watermelon Tote, Zippered Clutch, Suspender Bag. By 1979, only 3 new styles appeared: the Shopping Bag Large, Buckled Pouch Small, & Convertible Clutch. So if your bag isn't one of these styles, it is most likely not from the 70's, but I can't be sure other styles were not being sold in stores.
What To Note & Compare:
1) The copyright symbol next the word Coach in the first line of the creed. Coach started copyrighting its logo on the stamp in the late 60's.
2) The space around the Coach logo cartouche is embossed. By the mid 80s, the logo is embossed in the cartouche.
3) The font
4) Bags from this time period will have metal teeth zippers on any interior zip pockets.
5) Bag styles from this era seem limited so use the style to date & authenticate the bag.
6) Confirmed colors from the 1981 catalogue are Saddle, Navy, Mocha, Red, British Tan, Putty, Sage, Burgundy, Black & Tabac so probably these were also offered in the late 70s.
This creed stamp is from a #9539 Saddlery bag. I'm using this example because this bag appears first in the 1986 catalogue and seems to die off by the 1990's (at least in the catalogues). Coach continues to reissue old styles to this day, but from what I can tell, the Saddlery bag has not been one since the mid 80s. Note the copyright symbol is gone from the word Coach in the first line of the creed. Also, the serial number still doesn't include the bags style number, 9593. The serial number format is xxx-xxxx. Even though Coach was assigning bag styles since the 70s in their catalogues, the serial numbers didn’t indicate the style number.
This creed stamp in red is from a Chester Canteen crossbody bag #9982. Note serial number format xxxx-xxx and the numbers still don't mean anything in terms of style number. We also see a good example of the Coach logo embossed with the space around it, in the cartouche, not embossed. Made in the United States takes the place of made in New York City. When authenticating yourself, be sure to check for any deviation from the standard creed verbiage or spelling errors. These can indicate fakes.
During the early 80's they were starting to add to their assortment, again, at least in their catalogues. Coach's 1981 bag catalogue was still using black and white sketches & photos with just one page of color showing the hangtags in all available colors. In 1982 they used some colored photography mixed in. More and more small leather goods were starting to appear such as small pouches, coin purses, wallets, and portfolios. By 1983, they were starting to add more bag styles and by 1985, we see an explosion of styles added along with more color photographs. Again we don't know if these styles were already being offered in stores and just not represented in the catalogue; I think it is safe to guess some where, since printing was an expense, Coach most likely only featured their best sellers. Could have been too, that they just didn't have a significant marketing budget until the mid eighties, so only some styles were featured, but more were offered in stores. Driving gloves, leather day planners, and belts are added. A small capsule Twill Collection is shown in the 1986 summer catalogue. We do see some styles fade away by the start of the 90s like the Watermelon Tote, the Suspender Bag, & Classic Pouch.
By the end of the decade Coach was starting to sell silk printed scarves too.Two tone leather bags were shown in the 1989 fall catalog and were probably already sold in stores. The color names change and it's not clear of they are the same colors with different names or not. We get more colors like 'Blue', 'Wine', 'White', 'Honey', etc. For example did 'Burgundy' become 'Wine'? In 1987 there was a 'Flannel Grey' color. However, just one year earlier in 1986, the catalogue shows a 'Grey' and a 'Putty' color in the colorway assortment. Did 'Putty' become 'Taupe'? It can get confusing! The takeaway here is that certain colors were available in some eras and not others and that can be a valuable authentication point for resale. For example any vintage Coach Original style bag in 'Yellow' would most likely be from the 1990s renaissance of them, when the color was first introduced. But If you found a vintage Watermelon Tote in yellow- that would probably be a fake. Most vintage bags we see today date from the 80s simply because they were not styles available before but also because bags from earlier eras have probably been discarded if they have not been well maintained and outlived their usefulness.
What To Note & Compare:
1) The copyright symbol next the word Coach in the first line of the creed is gone.
2) Interior pocket zippers are still metal teeth.
3) Most vintage bags date from mid 80s on when Coach added a ton more to their style assortment.
4) The font.
5) Serial number formats can be xxxx-xxx or xxx-xxxx but should not have any letters.
6) Confirmed colors from the 1981 catalogue are Saddle, Navy, Mocha, Red, British Tan, Putty, Sage, Burgundy, Black & Tabac but begin to change and grow by the end of the decade, including two toned color options.