Hermes bags are nothing short of extraordinary.
In fact, Hermes goes so far as to stamp their (uber exceptional) bags that rank sky-high in the world of ultra-luxury. A stamp of transparency if you will. We’re talking about the most prestige of their prestige offerings, and the status of these pieces is never ever up for debate – with the exception of every inauthentic variety that tries to slip through the cracks.
Since Hermes is one of the most expertly-skilled purveyors of luxury goods and apparel in the world, leathers, and exotic skins to no surprise, still reign supreme if you’re a true collector. Pretty sure Cardi B would agree given her extensive (and continuously growing) collection of exotic Birkins and rare Kelly bags. She totally doesn’t have a problem; she has a collection, of course!
Due to its range of ultra-luxury materials used, the storied French house incorporates unique foil stamps throughout their high-value pieces to help identify the unique material present (and also, sometimes the bag type). These symbols, no doubt, are indicative of Hermes’ vast portfolio of quality-produced and hard-to-find pieces.
From the rarest Birkin to the most sought-after Constance, every stamp tells a story. Not to be confused with date codes, otherwise known as “blind stamps”, which help confirm the year of manufacture (those have their own unique location on the bag – more on that another time). At the end of the day, these seemingly minor but important markings most definitely help confirm the integrity of your bag and justify its value too.
Ok, so what exactly are the symbols, and what does each one represent? Read on to find out more in this (not so secret) guide to Hermes stamp symbols.
Stamp Symbols That Identify Hermes Exotic Textiles
You may have read our post about the myth of exotic skins. Or maybe you stumbled upon our post about what makes the Himalaya Birkin so special? In the case of Hermes (unlike other brands), exotic-skinned bags retain a lot of value even pre-owned. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at auction records for rare pieces like the Himalaya Kelly which scored bids over $400k (that’s for the one without diamonds on the hardware).
Exotics make up a significant portion of luxury bags from Hermes. If you are looking to add an exotic-skinned bag to your collection, getting them secondhand is an ethical and more sustainable way to honor the materials that have already been sourced and used. So how do our authenticators identify the exotic textile type? To start, we look at the stamp, of course. There are several exotic skins that Hermes uses. The following breaks it down for you, so you know exactly what each stamp means.
Square Stamp Symbol
The square symbol indicates Alligator mississippiensis (American alligator). These reptiles come from freshwater farms along the Mississippi River. Their skin is known for being extremely resilient. With proper care, an alligator bag can last lifetimes. Aside from referencing the stamp symbol, you can tell it’s alligator skin by spotting a prominent umbilical scar. Hermes artisans intentionally cut the parts of the bags in such a way that the scar is visible along the center of the bag to show that the item is in fact alligator. Alligators are smaller than crocodiles, so it is more common to see smaller bags and accessories crafted in this particular textile.
Double Dot Stamp Symbol
This symbol indicates Crocodile Niloticus. Crocodiles are larger than alligators and come from saltwater environments. This particular species is sourced from the Nile river and their scales are a bit larger compared to Crocodile Porosus, but with small visible pores.
Caret Stamp Symbol
The caret symbol indicates Crocodile porosus. This is another type of crocodile but this particular species is sourced from parts of Asia and Australia. Their scales are smaller and more defined and have small visible pores where hair follicles used to be. You can find matte and shiny versions (known as a “lisse” finish) of the Crocodile porosus. Both porosus and niloticus crocodile skin types are considered to be the most precious and costly skins you can buy.
Dash Stamp Symbol
This symbol means Varanus niloticus lizard, also known as Nile monitor found in the West African region and along the Nile. This species is one of the largest lizards in the world and the second-largest reptile in the Nile river. Characteristic of tiny and more uniform round scales, the Nile monitor scales absorb dye very well, so you will often find this exotic textile in bright bold hues.
Double Dash Stamp Symbol
This symbol means Varanus Salvator lizard, also known as Ring lizard. It is an Asian water monitor commonly found in northeast India, Sri Lanka, and Indonesian Islands. This skin has distinctive round color patterns within its scales – hence the name, “ring lizard”. An even better example is the bag (pictured right) in this post’s featured image. The scales themselves are small and square-like and become larger and more rectangular as you get towards the belly area
Stamp Symbols That Identify Special Orders
Horseshoe Stamp Symbol
The horseshoe symbol indicates that the bag is a special order (SO) and is often referred to as an HSS (horseshoe stamp) item. To just about every Hermes connoisseur, the rarity and intrigue of these bespoke bags never gets old. Heads up, don’t confuse these with special editions. If you want to learn more about special editions, we have a dedicated post about them. It shares everything there is to know about why special edition Hermes is the epitome of VIP. Spoiler alert: These unique breeds are not distinguished by a stamp per se, but by their fabulous special boxes!
Horseshoe stamp bags, on the other hand, have a horseshoe symbol that lies right next to the Hermes Made In France logo. These are custom designs that only Hermes VIPs have the honor of placing. They come in many different styles and textiles (even unique exotic skins like ostrich, which if you’re wondering does not have its own unique stamp symbol). And most HSS bags have unique color combinations that make them truly special. Explore our ever-growing and ever-changing collection of coveted Horseshoe stamp bags at FASHIONPHILE.
Stamp Symbols That Identify One-of-a-Kind Bags
Shooting Star Stamp Symbol
The shooting star symbol indicates that the bag is a craftsman’s personal product. These items are extremely rare and hard to get your hands on. It’s not every day that we come across one of these, but when we do, we are absolutely psyched. Although we all know it, it can sometimes be overlooked that all these gorgeous Hermes bags are handmade by actual people who are talented artisans and amazing at what they do. They, too, have incredible perks aside from creating and handling all of the world’s most coveted pieces. Every so often, artisans are able to make a bag and keep it for themselves. That’s what these are. Imagine getting your hands on something like that!