Hermès Blind Stamps: The Signs of Greatness

Hermès Blind Stamps

With a lineup of bags that has earned Holy Grail status in the world of accessories, Hermès is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, yet there are many small signifiers on each of its creations that people wouldn’t recognize. These are the markers that indicate the year, skin, and even the craftsperson who put your treasure together. One example? Crocodile bags are identified by two dots stamped next to the logo, alligator by a square, and lizard by a double hyphen. As a collector, I’ve come to recognize various features, but even the most dedicated aficionado can learn more through research. In this post, I’ll be sharing my findings with you, starting with the blind stamps that identify the year a bag is made…

How to Read the Hermès Blind Stamp:
The letter “A” inside of a square denotes a bag from 1997, the first year that letters were encased in squares instead of in circles. My vintage Kelly bag has a “B” stamped in a circle, and it’s from 1972. Bags made after 2014 may or may not have a square around the letter or even a blind stamp at all.

Years 1997-present: Stamped with letters inside of squares

Years 1971-1996: Stamped with letters inside of circles

Years 1945-1970: Stamped with a letter corresponding to the year

2015 T

2014 R

2013 Q

Hermès Blind Stamps

The letter P in a square denotes the year 2012, which is when I acquired my lovely Rose Tyrien crocodile!

2012 P

Hermès Blind Stamps

2011 O

2010 N

2009 M

2008 L

Hermès Blind Stamps

2007 K

2006 J

Hermès Blind Stamps

A 2005 bag with a double ring on the handle, an updated strap, and Ruthenium (gunmetal) hardware

2005 I

2004 H

2003 G

2002 F

2001 E

Hermès Blind Stamp

A bag from the 2000s with a double ring and modern clasp

2000 D

1999 C

1998 B

The letter “A” inside of a square from 1997, the first year that letters were encased in squares instead of circles.

1997 A

1996 Z

1995 Y

1994 X

1993 W

1992 V

1991 U

Hermès Blind Stamp

Strap hardware on a 20cm Kelly from the 1990s

1990 T

1989 S

1988 R

1987 Q

1986 P

Hermès Blind Stamp

An updated clasp on the strap of this mid 1980s bag but note the single ring on handle.

1985 O

Hermes_CircleNBlindStamp

1984 N

1983 M

1982 L

1981 K

1980 J

Hermès Blind Stamp

Claw clasp from the 1970s – early 1980s

1979 I

1978 H

1977 G

1976 F

1975 E

1974 D

1972 B

1971 A – From 1971-1996, letters were stamped inside of circles.

A bag made prior to 1970 is identified with a letter only that has no circle or square stamp around it.

1970 Z

1969 Y

1968 X

1967 W

1966 V

1965 U

1964 T

1963 S

1962 R

1961 Q

1960 P

1959 O

1958 N

1957 M

1956 L

1955 K

1954 J

1953 I

1952 H

1951 G

1950 F

1949 E

1948 D

1947 C

1946 B

1945 A

Hermès Sizing for the More Popular Bags:
Kelly bag: 15cm and 20cm are very rare and have been discontinued since the ’90s. Custom orders are on a case-to-case basis. More common are 25cm/28cm/32cm/35cm/40cm.
Birkin bag: As with the Kelly, barking sized 15cm and 20cm are very rare and have been discontinued since the ’90s. More common are 25cm/30cm/35cm/40cm/50cm.
Constance bag: 10cm/18cm/23cm
Evelyne bag: 18cm, 29cm, 33cm (TPM/PM/GM/TGM)

Fun Facts:
Hermès’ signature orange boxes and bags have come to be associated with the highest form of luxury, but the color was initially chosen for its inexpensive price. Post-WWII, no one wanted the hue for their bags, thinking customers would prefer other colors like black, so there was an abundance of orange dye.

The Sac à dépêches was a saddle holder. After a few changes in design, it was renamed the Kelly bag, as Grace Kelly had popularized it while using the now-beloved style to hide her growing baby bump from the paparazzi.

The HAC (Haut a Courroies) is the original iteration of what we today know as the Birkin. In my opinion, this is highly collectible. Created in 1892 as a horse feeder bag, it was updated in the ’80s and customized for Jane Birkin’s jet set needs after Hermès chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas saw her fumbling to fit her straw bag in the overhead compartment on a flight from Paris to London. They customized the Birkin to be wider and shorter than its predecessor. This year, Birkin requested her name be removed from the crocodile version of the bags due to allegations of abusive practices in obtaining the skins.

Hermès uses the most expensive alligator (American alligator mississippiensis) in the world, the skins don’t have small holes on the scales, as you see with less expensive alternatives. This is slightly more costly than crocodile skin, of which the company prefers the niloticus and porosus species (they don’t fool with Caiman croc or any lesser crocodiles).

Vintage: An Hermès 20cm Kelly with a shoulder strap, a super rare Hermès Amsterdam bag, an Hermès 20cm Kelly with top handle
Hermès Blind Stamps

A square stamp next to the logo denotes alligator skin. This is a matte malachite alligator; see how perfect its scales are without a single pinhole? It’s truly perfection. 
Hermès Blind Stamps

Rouge Vif lizard with gunmetal hardware
Hermès Blind Stamps

A double hyphen stamp signifies lizard.
Hermès Blind Stamps

A 25cm orange ostrich Birkin. Hermès ostrich quills are hand-pounded.
Hermès Blind Stamp

A 30cm Rouge H matte niloticus crocodile Birkin

Hermès Blind Stamp

Matte crocodile
Hermès Blind Stamps

This identifies the craftsman who made this Birkin bag.
Hermès Blind Stamps

Rose Tyrien shiny, porous crocodile. Hermès uses an agate stone to polish its crocodile and alligator skins to a shine. They don’t glaze their skins as other brands do, so your bag won’t peel or crack as easily. With use, the shine will dull, creating a nice patina.
Hermès Blind Stamps

You can order canvas straps (Bandouliere Supplement) for your Kelly bags. It’s a sportier look and can transform an exotic like my white ostrich into a casual bag. I mix and match my straps. It’s so much more fun!

Hermès Blind Stamps

The 20cm orange Kelly is a Retourne with a soft and supple finish. The others are Sellier with sharp and stiff edges.

Hermes_KellyBag

Hermès Blind Stamp

Dust covers from different eras

Hermès Blind Stamp

Constance bag (18cm Rouge Vif ostrich)

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23 Comments

    • Tina Craig
      August 16, 2015 / 8:42 am

      More to come! There’s so much info I didn’t want to overwhelm… xx Tina

  1. Shannon
    August 14, 2015 / 5:46 pm

    best post ever on this blog!

    • Tina Craig
      August 16, 2015 / 8:42 am

      Thank you ❤️ xx Tina

  2. August 14, 2015 / 7:05 pm

    Love the green and orange bag! Great choices girl.

    XO, Jessi
    mywhiteT.com

    • Tina Craig
      August 16, 2015 / 8:41 am

      ??? Thank you xx Tina

  3. Lysandra
    August 15, 2015 / 10:09 am

    Amazing info… Today I’m better educated on this wonderful piece of art work.

    • Tina Craig
      August 16, 2015 / 8:41 am

      Glad you enjoyed! xx Tina

  4. Joyce Loves Hermes
    August 16, 2015 / 8:38 am

    I’ve been a long time follower on your Instagram and most recently discovered your site. This is a brilliant post for all Hermes lovers, thank you! You’re truly an expert.

    • Tina Craig
      August 16, 2015 / 8:40 am

      Aww, thank you! Hope you enjoyed the article. xx Tina

    • Brooke
      August 31, 2017 / 10:41 am

      Hi I got a plum colour Hermes handbag for sale if your interested it’s got a q in a square so it’s from 2013 please email me if interested littlesaatci@outlook.com

  5. Tamara Jacobsen
    August 16, 2015 / 10:18 am

    Priceless information. I’ve recently discovered your Instagram account and now I follow your blog too on Bloglovin’. This post is one of the best blog posts ever. We can finally decipher more about this coveted item. Thank you, Tina!

    • Tina Craig
      August 16, 2015 / 7:43 pm

      You’re most welcome! I’m so thrilled everyone has taken time to not only read it but appreciate all the info. xx Tina

  6. LaurelH
    August 21, 2015 / 6:34 pm

    Tina, I’ve been fanSnob for many years and always appreciate the care and attention you give to your topics. You drill down, analyze, organize and synthesize the material presenting it in a format useful to your readers … and you make it look so easy! It’s not … your expertise and elegance in delivery are much appreciated.

  7. Suriati
    April 17, 2016 / 9:59 am

    Amazing info! Tell us more ?

  8. Drexell Frederick
    May 30, 2016 / 1:25 pm

    I love this info, but I just recently came across a Kelly bag, and would like to know if it is authentic. Do any of the Kelly bags have material lining on the
    inside with Hermes Paris on it ? I can’t seem to find any stamps on it, and it has gold coverings on back and front of the straps that closes the bag, from
    other pictures I’ve seen the gold coverings are only on the front and the back of it is where the stamp should be, can you help me with this.
    Thank you !

  9. Anonymous
    July 31, 2016 / 5:45 pm

    lol. alligator is more expensive than porosus? get educated!

  10. Jane
    June 11, 2017 / 2:06 am

    Hi just bought an alligator mini Kelly II but it has no worksman stamp, is that correct?

  11. Nho
    June 28, 2017 / 4:35 pm

    Wow! Love all the info, please share more! These bags are to DIE for!!!

  12. July 7, 2017 / 6:59 am

    I’m obsessed with flap & colourful bags. That’s my favourite!!

  13. Alice
    September 25, 2017 / 11:07 am

    I love this post! Thank you for sharing all of your knowledge and beautiful bags with us!!

  14. November 22, 2017 / 2:34 am

    Amazing Post, All bags are very beautiful and awesome.

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