Hi! I'm Linda and my daughter, Emily, and I have been collecting vintage Coach leather bags for a couple of years. Our knowledge has grown greatly with our collections. We did not realize how many bags that we collectively had until we shot the photo above. We had no idea! It didn't seem like we bought that many...
But we did. We each have our favorites. We keep many and we also sell them. We upgrade our collections often and also buy bags that are duplicates of our favorites to offer for sale. We usually restore, condition and clean our bags before we offer them for sale. I will straight up tell you that Emily spends more time and is more meticulous at restoration than I am. I covet patina so you'll find Emily to have pristine bags and mine to be more time worn with patina. Emily is a much more prolific collector than I am and she is the expert.
You can find Emily's bags (for sale) available in her Poshmark store HERE.
My Coach bags (for sale) are located in my vintage purse collection HERE.
This is us with one of our tortie rescue cats. Her name is Quinn Lucia Tortilla. She likes Coach bags, too.
This blog post/guide will be an ever-growing article. We will add to it as time allows. When we discover a rare bag or a new color we will certainly revise this post and add it. We will not, however, cover every bag ever made by Coach. We will focus on the vintage leather bags that we like most. The bags that we will feature will likely not have an interior lining. We love Bonnie Cashin and will try to share as many of them as we can get our hands on...affordably.
This guide will not be in chronological order, alphabetical order, or in any kind of order at all. Just sharing the bags that we love and what we have learned about them. If you wish to leave comments, please do. I cannot answer them easily due to the way that Shopify has our blogs set up. I am looking into installing Disqus on my website so that we can have a running discussion thread. They charge for that service so I will wait until this post has some sizable content.
If you have questions, please post them. Often times I will have to ask Emily to answer because she has the extensive knowledge. She is a college student so sometimes we'll have to wait until she's available to get a good answer.
Since this is a mother/daughter effort, you will notice a difference in writing styles. Emily is much better at it than I am. You'll soon be able to tell who is talking to you in each paragraph. So let's get started!
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR BAG IS VINTAGE
"Vintage" means that an item is 20 years or older (so I guess both my mom and I are vintage, by those standards). Vintage Coach bags have a distinct look and feel that you won't find with newer bags. The vintage bags did not have any sort of fabric lining; instead, the interior is raw suede (with the exception of some of the 1960s/70s Cashin bags, which had a colorful striped lining). This includes the "C" logo print fabric bags; these were made later in the 2000s and are not vintage. The leather on the true vintage bags is full-grain leather, which is the best of the best, so it is very thick and durable. It tends to have natural scars and wrinkles and striations, and "full-grain" means that these "flaws" in the top layer of the leather were not shaven off or removed. The leather in the newer bags (mid-2000s onward) is thinner and smoother to the touch, and is, in my opinion, not as high-quality. There's a reason the vintage bags are still going strong after 5+ decades of wear! Finally, if a bag is made in China, it is not vintage. Coach bags were made in the USA for decades, and some of the 90s vintage bags were made in Hungary, Turkey, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic.
Here is the inside of a 1980s bag. No fabric lining.
👉🏻 THE BAGS 👈🏻
The City Bag was the first vintage Coach style that I collected. It is a classic purse with a flap and a turn lock. There is an exterior slip pocket on the back that I love to keep my keys in. Never get lost! Under the flap is another slip pocket. Inside you'll find a zippered pocket with the creed. No lining as it is with all of the vintage Coach bags that we collect (with the exception of some of the 1960s/70s Bonnie Cashin bags, which are sometimes lined with ticking). The suede interior is actually the back side of the leather.
City bag measures 11 1/4" wide by 8" tall and it is 3 1/2" deep. It has a long cross body strap with a buckle that allows you to adjust the length. I have 9 of them in various colors. It comes in more. Super bag that holds quite a lot and is a comfortable shape that hugs your hip.
STATION BAG #5130
MINI DAYPACK #9960
This is such a versatile bag, and despite it being the mini version, it holds a ton of stuff. I've taken my mini Daypacks on hikes and can fit a water bottle, sunscreen, sunglasses, as well as all of the normal contents of my purse. It's such a useful style . . . that's why I have four of them.
The Willis is one of Coach's most popular and classic styles. In fact, in recent years, Coach has revamped this style of bag and re-released it in their Archive collection (although we are suckers for the full-grain leather of the true vintage bags. Nothing else compares!)
We recently found this rare pristine Red Willis. It's available on my website HERE.
The Winnie is one of the more rare styles of vintage Coach, especially in colors such as red and periwinkle. It is essentially a mini Willis (hence the name...Winnie), and it one of my personal all-time favorite styles. It surprisingly holds a lot more than you would think!
WILLIS CITY BAG #9153
COURT BAG #9870
This is the court bag in camel.
DUFFLE SAC #9085
The Duffle Sac is hands down one of my most essential bags. I call it my Mary Poppins bag because I swear I could fit a whole horse in one of these things. The Duffle Sac is one of the earliest styles that Coach started making, dating back to the late 1960s. They were in production all the way until the early 2000s, and much like the Willis, there were some remakes of this style in Coach's 2012 Archive collection. The one in the image with the seam down the middle is from the late 60s or early 70s. It was made before Coach used their signature creed and serial numbers, so it only has a tiny "Coach" stamp in it that helps me date it. These are known as "pre-creed" bags. Coach bags like this were made in their factory in New York City up until around 1980, when they expanded their factories to elsewhere in the U.S.
COMPARTMENT CROSSBODY BAG
This bag is my number one favorite Coach bag that I own. I have worn this thing into the ground and it still looks brand new with a little leather conditioner. It is basically a rounded version of the Court bag, but for some reason I like it so much better than the Court. It is also harder to find than the Court bag. It comes in two sizes; mine is the smaller of the two. I picked this up at an antique market about two years ago, and it was one of my first few Coach bags that started my obsession. There is something so classy about this style.
The Courier was made exclusively during the 1970s in the NYC factories, which makes it a very rare style. When one of these pops up online with a reasonable price, it typically sells out in a matter of minutes or even seconds, but it's very hard to find one of these for under $200. The Courier comes in two sizes; I have a "baby Courier" in my personal collection (the one in the honey color shown below) and have come across two of the larger Couriers (shown below) in the past.
Often called the "Slim Tote," the Skinny Tote is my (Linda's) favorite bag. It was made in the 1970s. It was designed by Bonnie Cashin and was a take-off of a bag that she designed before her association with Coach. That bag was called The Cashin Carry. It has the kiss lock coin purse on the outside and a slip in pocket inside. The zipper is one of the highest quality zippers ever made---a Talon zipper in solid brass.
KISSLOCK WATERMELON TOTE
The earlier bags such at the two above have a very high-end, well-made zipper by Talon. My cobbler was so impressed with these zippers.
This is a very rare bag from the 1960s and is a Bonnie Cashin design that is pre-slim tote called the "Cashin Carry." Cute Name! This bag is courtesy of Kim, one of our fellow Coachies.
THE SWINGER DOUBLE KISSLOCK BAG
👉🏻 A side story about Bonnie Cashin.
Not only did Bonnie Cashin design for Coach, she designed for Philip Sills. This was 1960s to about 1974. She did coats, belts and jackets in mostly leather. She used bright and edgy colors such as moss and lime green, persimmon and mustard as well as black and bone.
She used dog leash hooks as latches and Coach turn locks as buttons on her coats and jackets.
She mixed wool with leather and if you are lucky enough to find one, She used a kisslock purse as a pocket on some of her jackets.
These were sold at upscale department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue. The leather is soft and comfortable.
Today,Emily spotted this mustard Bonnie Cashin for Sills mustard leather jacket with turnlock "buttons". How cute is this?
MINI BELT BAG
The Mini Belt Bag is one that I have noticed has become very popular again recently, which is beyond me because it truly doesn't fit more than a bundle of keys and maybe, like, one credit card. But it's cute, so there's that.
The color above is black and below is bone.
I believe this color is "Khaki":
This is the scooter in color "bone"
SLIM EQUESTRIAN BUCKET BAG
Often called "the Taco Bag" Has one interior pocket with the creed. Measures 8 1/2" long by 2 1/2" wide at the base and 6 1/2" tall. The Shoulder strap is 51 1/2" long.
COMPANION FLAP # 9076
Shown in "Bottle Green," which is my favorite color that vintage Coach bags come in. The style of this bag is similar to my beloved Plaza bag, but it is quite significantly smaller and does not have a slip pocket on the back.
CRESCENT SADDLE BAG
Genuine black full-grain leather with solid brass hardware. Adjustable strap. Large pocket inside. 10.25” x 9.5” x 2 7/8”
RAMBLER'S LEGACY #9061
EMMIE # 9018
COMPACT POUCH #9620
This bag has a cool history; it was actually originally part of the United Airlines approved uniform for the flight attendants back in the 1970s. Some of these bags have a United Airlines emblem stamp on them, but I have not yet been lucky enough to come across one like that. If you search "Coach Stewardess United Airlines" online, you can find some cute old pictures of flight attendants with their Stewardess bags.
SMALL LEATHER GOODS
I love the little kisslock coinpurses. When you open them up and look inside, you sometime get a surprise to find a different color leather!
SADDLE POUCH NYC
CHESTER (CANTEEN) #9982
Has two exterior pockets and an interior with brass zipper closure. Interior zippered pocket. Style 9814
Sutton in hunter green with British tan trim.
Made in the USA in the 1980s. Genuine full-grain leather with solid brass hardware. Adjustable crossbody strap. In excellent condition, very minor scuffing on the corners. Unlined suede interior. Super sturdy bag that will last a lifetime. 9.5” x 9.5” x 2 3/4”
Usually Made in New York City, USA in the 1970 through the 1990s. Genuine full-grain leather in British Tan with solid brass hardware. Adjustable strap.
This style came in two sizes.
The larger measures: 10.5” x 8.5” x 2.5”
The Smaller measures: 9” long x 6.5” tall x 2.75” deep
GEOMETRIC CONVERTIBLE CLUTCH #9044
Authentic Vintage Coach Geometric Convertible Clutch Crossbody Bag no. 9044. Genuine black full-grain leather with solid brass hardware. Original hangtag attached. Crossbody strap snaps on on the inside of the flap and is detachable. Approx. 10.25” x 5.25” x 2” with a 20” strap drop.
TRAIL BAG #9965
AVENUE SHOULDER BAG
(Still on my wishlist, so photos are *hopefully* to come)
This style was made in the 1970s and was thought up by Bonnie Cashin, who had an obsession with normalizing making women's bags more "masculine," durable, and functional. The Musette is a large briefcase-style bag and is one of the most coveted and hard-to-find styles. This exact bag is for sale on my Poshmark now.
1970s Wristlet Clutch in bone:
1970s Roll Bag in Black
The beautiful pastels of Coach!
How to Read the Serial Number
In the 1970s, Coach serial numbers were 7 numbers in the format XXX-XXXX. The numbers didn't mean anything, but the bags did come with mail-in papers that you could write your bag's serial number on and mail in to register the bag.
From around 1980-1994, the serial number still consisted entirely of numbers, but was now in the format XXXX-XXX. It is more difficult to pinpoint the exact date of bags with this kind of serial number since it spans a wider time period.
From 1994 onward through the 2000s, Coach serial numbers became more structured and meaningful. They now consisted of both numbers and letters in the format YXY-XXXX. The first 3 characters provide information about the bag's manufacturing. The first letter indicates the month during which the bag was made. Coach used letters A through M (excluding letter I) to represent the months (so a bag with letter A was made in January, letter B was February, letter C was March, and so on). The second character was a number that indicated the year of manufacture. The number corresponds with the last number in the year, so a bag made in 1998 for example would have an 8 as its second character. Finally, the third character indicates where the bag was made. Coach made bags primarily in the US, but also in Turkey, Hungary, and Costa Rica.
The last 4 numbers in the serial number are the style number. These are the 4 numbers you will need to search to find the name of your Coach bag.
How to Spot a Fake
It took me a long time and a lot of research to spot fake Coach bags. Some things are dead giveaways: for example, zipper pulls/hardware marked "Coach," a serial with only 5 digits, or a creed with misspellings or that reads "made in Korea" always indicate a fake. It takes a well-trained eye to spot some of the more realistic fakes. Sometimes, the creed may read the same as a real creed and the serial number may be in the correct format, but the bag is still fake. A good starting place if you are unsure of authenticity is to Google search the last 4 numbers in the serial number (if the bag was made after 1994) to see if the serial number is valid. Pay close attention to the quality of the stamping; if the stamp appears very faint, it is not always fake, but it is a possibility. Additionally, pay attention to the font style. It may be helpful to compare the creed to one that is certainly real.
Maintain Your Leather
These bags are very durable and are made of thick leather, so for the most part, your bag shouldn't need much more than a good conditioning every now and then. We love using Chamberlain's Leather Milk and also Blackrock Leather Conditioner. I like to condition my bags each time that I switch out of them (every 3 weeks or so) to ensure that the leather does not dry out or appear scuffed. The conditioner may darken the leather, but it should return to its normal color in a day or two. Avoid using things like coconut oil or olive oil to condition your bags; these are not meant to be used on bags and will start to go rancid, plus they may cause permanent darkening of the leather.
It is safe to dunk full-grain leather vintage Coach bags in water; if a bag is particularly dirty or misshapen when I get it, I will gently bathe it in a sink full of warm water and a little Dawn dish soap, stuff it with a small towel to help it dry in its proper shape, and allow it to dry in the sun for a day or so.
These bags can take a beating, but whatever you do, pleeeease resist the urge to use acrylic leather paint or shoe polish on these bags. It ruins the leather and is a very lengthy process to try to remove it. When the leather is coated in paint or polish, it tends to dry out and crack, as the leather itself has no contact with moisture. In most cases, color fading can be fixed with leather conditioner and some patience. It may take several coats of conditioner, but it can be done.
A Brief History