Everything You Wanted to Know About Hermès Date Stamps but Were Too Afraid to Ask
Whether you are a confirmed Hermès collector or are eager to buy your very first Hermès bag, you likely will have heard of Hermès date stamps or Hermès date codes. But how do you read Hermès date stamps? And where are the Hermès date stamps located? We get many questions on this topic, so we have created the following Hermès date stamp guide.
What Are Hermès Date Stamps?
Every genuine Hermès bag produced receives an embossed stamp signifying the year of its manufacture and another identifying the artisan or team of artisans who created it. The Hermès date stamp, naturally, is the one that specifies the year of its manufacture. This stamp is also referred to as the Hermès date code. Because the date stamp together with the artisan stamp are designed to blend into the leather and are well hidden, they are also sometimes referred to as Hermès blind stamps.
Although the presence of an Hermès date stamp is not sufficient to deem a bag genuine, no authentic Hermès bag manufactured after 1945 lacks this mark. But you may have to hunt for it. Since 2016, the Hermès stamp on Birkin and Kelly bags has been added to the left side of the interior, close to the back flap. On earlier Birkin and Kelly bags and other Hermès styles, look under the bag tab and on the underside of the strap for the stamp.
Why Are Hermès Date Stamps Important?
Hermès date stamps are vital to all Hermès buyers because they can be used to authenticate Hermès bags. This is essential for people who buy luxury handbags as investments, but we all want to know that our bags are genuine. Many first-time buyers will see Hermès date codes as a sign of authenticity, but the stamps can be faked or altered. This is one reason you should always purchase an Hermès bag from the boutique directly or a trusted and reseller like Madison Avenue Couture.
Hermès date stamps also help collectors and dealers identify or validate specific colors. Certain Hermès colors look quite similar. However, the atelier “rests” or temporarily retires certain colors after a while, taking them out of production. So, the Hermès stamp indicating the year of production can lend a critical clue to the color's name. For example, the Candy Series Limited Edition bags were released in 2011-2012. One of the colors in the collection was Bleu Celeste, a vivid summer sky blue, which is similar to the color Bleu Aztec. The existence of an “O Square” or “P Square” Hermès date stamp allows us to verify that the color is indeed Bleu Celeste and not a similar shade of blue.
What do Hermès Date Stamps Look Like?
Hermès date stamps are small and discreet. Unlike Chanel, who uses alphanumeric codes, Hermès date codes have used single letters in alphabetical order since 1945. As the bags have been manufactured for far more than 26 years, they started surrounding individual letters with either a circle or a square in 1971 until 2015, when the codes became more random. We’ll see how to crack the code in just a bit. Additionally, Hermès date codes are accompanied by one more stamp: that of the expert artisan who handcrafted the bag.
Hermès Date Stamp Chart: How to Read the Hermès Blind Stamp
Since 1945, Hermès date codes have comprised a single capital letter, with or without a surrounding shape. Before that time, no date stamp was used. Use our Hermès Date Stamp Chart to accurately identify the date your beloved handbag was brought into the world:
Hermès Date Stamp Chart
* There have been a few anomalies in the Hermès date stamps over the years. In 2011, several authentic Hermès bags were released with the O in the square of the date stamp combined with the J of the craftsman stamp, so the J O is circumscribed by a rectangle. And, in 2014, it would seem that some artisans jumped the gun on dropping the square. Although a 2014 bag should have an Hermès stamp with an R in a square, many in the year’s later months were produced with an R and no square.
What Are Hermès Blind Stamps?
The blind stamp is the date stamp combined with the artisan code. Since 2016, the blind stamp on Birkins and Kellys typically is a row consisting of the date stamp plus a combination of five letters and numbers with two letters underneath. There are two exceptions. On the Kelly 25cm, the blind stamp is vertical on the side toward the back and on the Kelly 20cm, the blind stamp is also vertical but on the rear pocket. In rare situations, Hermès has produced with only the first row and bags with no blind stamp.
Older Birkins and Kellys had their blind stamps on the underside of the left sangle (strap). The blind stamp was a combination of numbers, letters and symbols and was placed in varying locations near the front of the sangle. It was sometimes next to the date stamp, sometimes on the other side of the toggle hole from the date stamp, sometimes in one row and sometimes in two rows. The length of the stamp was shorter, especially on vintage bags when handbag production was much less.
With the exception of the date stamp, no one except Hermès knows which artisan or artisan team is reflected in the blind stamp.
Blind stamps are unique to the bag so it is advised to keep a record of your blind stamp(s), as this is the best way to identify your Hermès handbag should it ever get stolen.
Extra Hermès Stamps to Identify Exotic Leathers
Hermès uses additional stamps to mark various exotic leather handbags, like crocodile, alligator, and lizard, as well as Special Order bags, employee sales, etc. Although not strictly part of the date code, our Hermès date stamp guide would not be complete without listing these marks that identify some of the most coveted bags. These Hermès stamps comprise a single discrete symbol next to the branded “Hermès, Paris, Made in France.”
- Dash (-): This Hermès stamp identifies a bag crafted from Varanus Niloticus Lizard.
- Double Dots (..): This symbol marks a bag made of Crocodile Niloticus.
- Equal Sign (=): Bags made from Varanus Salvator Lizard bear this mark.
- Square (☐): This mark is used to identify the leather of an Alligator Mississippiensis.
- Employee Stamp (S): This symbol indicates the bag was purchased with an employee discount. This symbol varies a bit.
- Horseshoe: This symbol is used for the bespoke Hermès bags customized for brand VIPs.
- Shooting Star: This Hermès stamp is reserved for a bag created for the artisan’s personal use.
Hermès bags made from ostrich do not have an identifying symbol.
Hermès Date Codes for Authenticity and Value
Our Hermès date stamp guide will help you determine the date of manufacture. However, as we alluded earlier, the presence of a date stamp or a blind stamp does not verify authenticity. Counterfeiters have long been placing blind stamps inside their bags, sometimes copying blind stamps from authentic bags. That is the reason Hermès bags should be purchased only from a respected reseller (if you can’t get the bag at the boutique) like Madison Avenue Couture. We have a three-step authentication process that includes a review by our in-house experts as well as one of the top independent authenticators of Hermés handbags. This process goes beyond consideration of the stamp and examines in-depth all facets of the bag to verify its authenticity.