Vintage Coach Station Bag Authentication Guide
I recently went to rehab some station bags I have and was incredulous when I noticed that each bag had the creed stamp in a different location. Immediately I took to the internet to see if the location of the stamp had ever changed and maybe I just had two Station bags from two different eras? In the end, it didn't matter because there were many other discrepancies that started to pop out to me and I knew I had a fake on my hands.
The disturbing part of all of this is that I am not sure I would have noticed the fake if I had not also had the authentic one that day to compare to. I like to tell people that most fakes are easily discovered with a preliminary bag inspection and I do stand by that still. However, this is one of the better fakes I have encountered and I wouldn't blame anyone for not knowing. Its made of real leather, it looks like a Station bag design, and even all the hardware is pretty close. I made this guide so other collectors & resellers can reference it, learn, and of course avoid reselling a fake bag.
Let me break down how I knew one of my Station bags was a fake!
There is some debate as to whether or not the location of the creed stamp in this bag can denote a fake or not. We don't know if a factory decided to change the placement at one point or not, for example. It is usually found on the inside back wall of the front pocket. Inside the main compartment, you should see a plain slip pocket.
If the creed stamp is on the slip
pocket inside the main
compartment, it does not automatically mean it's a fake. I would then look at other points of authenticity and judge from there. However, if you see a zipper pocket instead of a slip pocket on the interior back wall of the main compartment, then yes, it's probably a fake! I don't think at the time of this writing that Station bags every had an interior zipper pocket inside the main compartment.
If we look at the creed stamps themselves, one glaring difference is the quality of the leather. The fake is made from an inferior leather. I can tell from my years of experience and of course handling the actual bags, but you can see it in the photos too. The emboss on the fake is sort of thick and sloppy, even if the verbiage is right. Yet we can barely see the serial number. Since the two bags I'm comparing are from different eras, we can't judge authenticity based off of the logo cartouche style here. Either way, it doesn't look wrong on the fake, just not as neatly embossed as the real bag's emboss.
Look closely at the anchor tabs on the sides of the bags. These have a carefully designed shape. Once I compared mine, I saw they where not the same! The thickness of the D-rings were also different. This is just a hard one to know from memory, so if you have a real Station bag, take pictures of these details, so you can compare them to any future ones you may find. You can also reference the photos in this blog post (but do not repost without permission! Thanks!).
Same goes for the top handle anchor tabs. These were also different! The real bag has a much more uniform tab shape and neater stitching job. I didn't point this out in the photo, but look at the end of the handle that connects to the square ring: the real bag has a beautiful stitching job, the binding comes close to touching, but never does. The fake has the binding coming right together, much faster and easier to stitch, but not as nice as the real bag!
This is another one that is hard to know just by looking at a bag, but these front tabs are different. The real bag has much more refined and smooth shape. Also the stitching is neat and small. The fake has a rougher tab shape and the stitching isn't as small. Have reference photos to compare to, because this different is hard to see. The turnlock hardware looks the same to me here and it very well could be. Vintage Coach bags didn't have proprietary hardware lock designs (yet).
Handbag brands with iconic styles have a specific way the bag is cut and constructed. Especially classic Coach bags aka Coach original styles. These bags are patterned in such a way that you don't need a lining or edge paint. The number of seams are all accounted for. So when I compared the bags, I saw the bottom construction was all wrong on one of the bags. I also looked at the over all bag size/scale and the fake was about 15% smaller than the real one.
The cover of the flap corners and shapes were different. The fake has much rounder flap corners. The back of the flap on the fake has a seam (for the zipper pocket inside, which it shouldn't have!) and the real one has one continuous panel of leather from back panel to front flap. These small differences may seem trivial, but I can tell you as a bag designer who was asked to dupe other popular bag designs, these are the type of details we changed to get away with make a similar, but different style bag. This bag is clearly a fake, however, because it's trying to trick the user with an authentic looking creed stamp and mimicking all the major design details.
I have never encountered a Vintage Coach bag that so closely resembled an authentic one, and I still think this will seldom occur. Most fakes are easy to spot with basic knowledge. This Station bag took me for a spin, but I know what to look for now.
If you are still not sure about your bag after reading this post, you can post images of your bag over on my FB group for free community help or for $2 you can have me personally look at photos and give an opinion. There are also professional authentication services you can google.