Sunday, May 9, 2010

Vintage Condition Chart

When shopping for vintage and retro purses, or any other vintage and retro items for that matter, I strive to find items in excellent to near mint vintage condition. While I know what that means, does the average buyer know what that means? And if so, do they know that I strive to only offer items in this condition? After all, I’ve failed many times to note the condition of items in my posting descriptions. I guess I’ve just always assumed the photos speak for themselves.
How does one define the condition of vintage items? Well, for what it’s worth, here’s my definition of Vintage Conditions, along with examples from my online boutique Better Than Naked and my private collection. I’ve used purses as examples, but this Chart can be applied to any collectibles.
I follow a 6 tier Vintage Condition Chart, made up by myself and confirmed through observation of many other vintage sale and auction sites. Similar to Car conditions, Vintage Conditions include: Mint, Near Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good and Fair.
1) MINT: this means that despite being 20 years old, or (hopefully) older...this item appears to be just like new. JUST LIKE NEW. if it just came out of the factory and you are the first owner. This item has NO flaws and ZERO visible wear. Quite honestly, it doesn’t appear to have ever been worn. EVER. The only example I’ve ever seen and had the pleasure to photograph is this 1960s Satin and Beaded Evening Bag, by Gucci.

It appears that this purse has never been worn since its creation about 55+ years ago. With only one owner, this designer handbag has been safely stored throughout the years. It’s valued at $1,000 and is currently for sale.
2) NEAR MINT: these items, if used, have been used minimally; as in 2-3 times max. They appear to be in new condition, despite their age, and worse case scenario there may be a light scratch or wear on the hardware...or a tiny mark on the interior lining. I think my Gold Mesh Purse by WHITING AND DAVIS makes the cut.
whiting and davis mesh bag by you.
Not a mesh link is missing, every stone is in place, the satin interior is bright and super clean, not a scratch appears on the hardware, and it’s fully functioning. The last 50 years have not affected this beauty!
3) EXCELLENT: you may be able to tell these items have been worn, but they are without major flaws and have no damage or flaws to its architectural structure. They may contain a blemish or two, but they are very minor and in no way deter from their beauty. For example, this White Satin & Beaded Evening Clutch by GANSON.

First of all, surprise! Ganson made evening bags...I had no clue. Secondly, it’s beautiful! It’s shape and hand beaded design has not been sacrificed, and it only has a couple small marks on the interior and exterior back; and its architecture is without a flaw.
4) VERY GOOD: similar to excellent, you may be able to tell these items have been worn, and their age can be shown through minor blemishes, acquired through the years. While they may not be perfect, they are classic; timeless. They are also fully functioning and totally wearable, such as this Electric Blue SATIN CLUTCH.

Its architecture is without flaw, the satin blue exterior in very good condition; its bow showing a minor bend. A gold kiss clasp closure and gold lining in near mint condition makes this a classic clutch!
5) GOOD: just like ‘very good,’ these items show their age with small blemishes or marks to either the exterior, interior, or both. They are, again, fully functioning and wearable in their current condition, and are undeniably in their own right, classics. Like this 1960s NAVY BLUE & RED HANDBAG.

Its only flaw is a minor discoloration to the exterior right side. It’s classic architecture and navy blue and red color combo makes it simply irresistible!
6) FAIR: I don’t believe in fair items. They have numerous, notable flaws...and many times are not in usable condition. I can show many examples, but none of them are from me, so I don’t want to be a jerk. Many items in fair condition have architectural damage as well as major interior and exterior flaws, and are better off to be laid to rest. This includes broken straps, ripped skins, tears, missing stones, non-functioning clasps, etc.