Each week, we receive 1 to 5 e-mails asking for a value estimate of a Vuitton trunk.
The following 10 pages file aims at helping you understand the value analysis components for a Vuitton trunk in particular, and, generaly speaking, for any luxury trunk.
Reading this file, as complete as possible but non exhaustive, will enable you to understand the difference between trunk and trunk. Depending on its condition, a Louis Vutton trunk can be worth between 300 euros and xxxx euros.
For non-restored trunks, you can commonly find prices between 1000 and 4500-5000 euros; beyond this is quite uncommon for a simply rectangular trunk.
Reading this file will also enable you not to be surprised by the low value of certain pieces and to understand that a Vuitton label does not necessarily means expensive.
Louis Vuitton, who started in 1853, was, until the 30s, a trunk-maker like the other 150 in Paris.
The aim was to transport objects, not to make a luxury item. Thus, Louis Vuitton, as well as Goyard, Moynat or others like Lavolaille, Walkers, etc., have produced entry-level pieces, with iron bindings, painted coated fabric, and more luxury pieces.
What made luxury were the special orders which raised the range and the image.
For the restoration of these trunks, we use long and expensive processes totally different from an ordinary restoration.
A common restoration easily takes 1 week.
This must be taken into account to understand the value of an object as it is on the one hand, or restored on the other hand.
But what makes the value of a trunk?
Of course, apart from the technical aspects, there is the market, the place and time when the sale takes place, and the possible prestige of the previous owner (with indisputable proofs, photo of the owner WITH the trunk).
I will not talk about these specifics because the market is different whether you are in France, in Germany or in Japan.
Furthermore, it is obvious that a Louis Vuitton trunk which has belonged to Marylin Monroe for instance will not have the same value than my grand-mother's one!
Moreover, there are no fees in a mutual agreement sale, contrary to an auction sale.
1 The canvas
Vuitton has made trunks with very different canvases (monogram, plain, yellow, red, black, beige, etc.)
The best known is the monogrammed one; however you will find (in canvas value order):
1.1 LV monogram stenciled canvas
This canvas is stencil decorated. It is the best known canvas, the most "quoted" worldwide.
From Japan to Russia, everybody knows this canvas, which has become a standard.
In Goyard, you will find a "chevron" canvas which is silk-screen printed on linen.
1.2 Woven monogrammed canvas
The monogram is woven in the canvas.
Less known, this canvas is often less contrasted, it is older.
In Goyard, you will also find a woven canvas, of lower quotation.
1.3 "Modern" monogrammed canvas
It is the currently used canvas on Vuitton products (soft luggage, bags, trunks, suitcases, etc).
It comes in various versions:
The classic monogrammed canvas.
The LV canvas inspired by the Japanese artist Murakami (uncommon on a trunk)
The monogrammed canvas with green or dark glints is much less sought-after.
1.4 The Damier canvas
The damier canvas used by Vuitton comes in several versions.
The best known and most sought-after is a "damier" on which some squares are filled with "Louis Vutton déposé".
The same canvas exists with nothing special.
Lastly, there is a yellow damier canvas which corresponds to the 6th series trunks (entry-level items).
You will find damier canvases in Moynat Au Départ, Lavolaille, Roncati, Georges, etc. Each damier is particular and has its own dimensions.
An LV damier can be easly recognized by the size of each square, the shape of the stitch it is composed of and the used shade.
1.5 Striped canvas
The red one is uncommon.
Brown striped canvas
Brown striped canvas with darker brown shades.
The striped canvas has been used by dozens of trunk-makers in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Striped canvases can be brown, green, bordeaux, etc.
It is easy to put LV handles and label on an unbranded trunk but an expert will not be fooled. Turn to a connoisseur.
1.6 Leather coating
Leather is a luxury coating, but its value depends on its condition.
It must still have its GOLD color (natural cowhide); dark or black colors are important depreciations.
Leather trunks are less sought-after for they have no visible branding (jewelry excepted).
Either orange (the best known), yellow, red (the most unusual) or black (the less sought-after), Vuittonite is always a plain coating.
1.8 Grey Trianon canvas
This grey canvas, first color for Vuitton canvases starting from 1854, is the historic canvas of the brand.
Most often, this canvas goes with flat reinforcing slats which are different.
Wide slats, whichever the canvas, are less sought-after.
1.7 Plain canvases
LV trunk with beige canvas
Plain canvases are the least sought-after.
On an antique trunk with plain coated fabric, the tacks are not Louis Vuitton marked and the locks have no tumbler.
It is thus very hard for a beginner to recognize the genuine from the modified.
1.8 Important depreciations on a canvas
This Louis Vuitton trunk (bindings, leather...) seems beautiful at first sight.
Looking more closely, we can see that:
The monogrammed canvas is systematically cracked in between the slats and a great monogrammed area is missing.
Restoring this will need more than two full-time workdays by a capable restorer.
(loss of value, as is: 25%)
The important restoration costs will lower the value of the trunk.
The same goes for LV trunks with no canvas left... the more canvas is missing, the lower the value is, and an LV trunk with no canvas will have no great value at all.
The interior of this same trunk is totally damaged:
The lining, padding, ribbons have to be remade, the interior is missing, there is no key, no strap, no tray.
Loss of value, as is: 10%
Here, with humidity, it is the whole LV canvas which comes unstuck.
It needs to be glued back, and then the flaws will have to be touched up (loss of value, as is: 30 to 50%)
Above is a LV trunk with woven canvas, completely moldy at the back.
If the canvas is not salvable, this trunk will have no value (loss of value, as is: more than 50%)
Monograms of origin with initials like P.D. or H.L.M. are also depreciation, in France.
Stables strips or initials may be accepted in France and not at all in Japan where a trunk free from such marks is preferred.
1.9 Other depreciations
Leather / canvas
There are some tasks that the restorer cannot do because they would constitute forgery.
For instance, a leather handle can be replaced but the new one cannot, in no way, be marked with a Louis Vuitton logo.
Thus, even restored, the trunk will suffer a loss of value, in comparison with a trunk equipped with its original leather handles.
Moreover, the canvas cannot be replaced. The Vuitton workshops alone could do it but it is unlikely because the difference in patina between a new canvas and an old one is obvious.
So, a trunk with missing canvas on one side is doomed to be cannibalized in order to restore another trunk.
Many trunks from Vuitton, Goyard, etc., have been repaired. You will therefore find pieces the lock or a clasp of which is not of origin.
Replacing these parts is expensive and also leads to a loss of value.
The wood of the trunks (box or slats) is sometimes damaged. Replacing a reinforcing slat means taking off tacks and brackets.
Then you will have to find an adapted old slat, remake the missing piece, find identical and monogrammed tacks and, lastly, cold rivet in the traditional way all the tacks.
Restoration made by a "handyman" with, for instance:
- Paint for ironwork...
- "Miror" which stains the canvas around the brass parts...
- Canvases glued back with UHU glue...
- A cut lock, a changed lock...
Leads to an important depreciation because restoring is much more difficult after that. .
FAKES (see post on forgery)
There are few fakes in Vuitton trunks; however you will find:
- Constant Vuiton (with a single T) branded trunks which are of course not Vuitton's
- Branded trunks mentioning Vuitton in the address, but with a wrong address and the name of someone else
- Trunks with a lock from another brand.
On the above photo, the seller failed to mention that the lock was not of origin.
- Fake or tampered suitcases or mainly vanity cases, with unmarked lozines, tacks not of origin, etc.
Here, the lock is not an LV one, neither are the lozine and corners
- Trunks with some modified parts
- Wardrobe trunks emptied of their content (important depreciation but of course it is not a fake). Some of them are equipped with drawers from other trunks and that have not the same yellow shades
A trunk with an inside Vuitton label and with LV handles does not necessarily mean that the trunk is a Vuitton (it is also true the other way round).
Cutting of labels, photocopies are common.
2 Trunk accessories and jewelry
On a trunk, you will always find:
- 1 or 2 locks
- clasps (brass or steel)
- L-shaped angle brackets (protection of the slats)
- handles (on the sides or on the top, brass, steel or leather)
- bindings (protection of the edges, leather, lozine or metal)
- corners (brass, metal or sometimes leather)
The whole set of these parts is named "jewelry"
Louis Vuitton trunk, stenciled monogram, brass jewelry, leather handles, brown lozine bindings (second best)
Louis Vuitton trunk, stenciled monogram, steel jewelry, metal handles, black lozine bindings (third grade)
Louis Vuitton trunk, stenciled monogram, steel jewelry, metal handles, black metal bindings (fourth choice, the lowest quoted value trunk)
NOTE : Between an up-market trunk and a bottom-of-the-range one, having the same canvas and being in a similar condition, the ratio can be of 1 to 3!!!
Models and dimensions will also affect the value of a trunk.
A rare trunk is more valuable than a common one... A large trunk is generally worth more than a small one (there are exceptions)
The highest valued models are those that can be easily used in decoration.
Common existing models are:
3.1 For trunks
- The cabin trunk (long, rectangular, less than 25cm high)
- The steamer trunk
Rectangular, it exists in various dimensions (for instance : 80 / 110 cm)
- The tall steamer trunk (not shown)
It is higher by around 20cm than a standard steamer trunk, it is generally equipped with 3 trays.
NOTE: Between a cabin trunk and a steamer trunk, with similar canvas, finish and conditions, the ratio is sometimes doubled.
3.2 For wardrobe trunks
The wardrobe trunk was created later. It is certainly the model that enabled the greatest number of different creations.
The best known model: with 6 drawers, hangers on the left, suitcase for shoes. Brass jewelry, lozine bindings.
NOTE : A bad condition will lead to a more important depreciation than for an ordinary trunk.
Indeed, restoration on wardrobe trunks is very hard and expensive.
3.3 Special trunks (non-categorized) (not exhaustive)
Here we classify, generally, special orders (custom-made, for a specific use) or a standard model trunk but made to measure and treated in a special way, like for instance, an ordinary steamer trunk which would be covered with crocodile leather or green epi leather.
We will find here "unlisted" items, the value of which will be determined by their rarity.
The value of a Louis Vuitton trunk depends on its condition and on the possibility to restore it perfectly.
For a Louis Vuitton trunk, restoration costs range from 700 euros, for a thorough cleaning, to more than 3'500 euros for restoring, for instance, a wardrobe trunk the drawers of which need to be remade (between 20 and 80 hours, depending on the condition).
The average margin (between 20% and 30%) of a well-established trunk dealer with a trading license is less than the fees of an auction hall... (it leaves me pensive).
Remember that a badly restored trunk is the worst of all; it will be harder and more expensive to make it good.
Better leave a trunk as is and let the buyer do, rather than depreciate it by trying your hand at restoring.
For a trunk estimate:
1- Always ask for 2 opinions
2- Do not confuse expertise and estimate; you have to pay for an expertise and it is done by an expert appraiser WITH the object; the expert commits himself on the authenticity, not on the value.
An estimate does not commit to anything and can be done from a photo.
3- Take into account the condition of the trunk. The more a trunk is meant for a wealthy clientele, the more it will have to be perfect.