You may have an HERMES scarf that has been forgotten in a drawer for years or you may have been given one as a gift that is just not “your thing”. In any case, you have an Hermès scarf and you wonder what is it worth?
Well, the simple answer is, whatever a buyer is willing and able to pay for your scarf at any given time. Oh, you want a real value, I see…
So, here are some guidelines. Some very obvious and some perhaps not so much.
Let’s have a look…
The Équipements Civils et Militaires carre is from 1948. That’s a 70 year old scarf!!! There are not that many scarves around that are that old, let alone in excellent condition. Naturally the older, or more vintage your scarf is, typically the higher the value. For our discussion, the term vintage describes scarves from when Hermes first introduced the carre (1937) to 1998 (20 years before present day).
In addition to its age, your scarf’s condition plays a big role in determining its value. An unworn scarf with the care tag (if applicable) still attached in its original box or tote will for obvious reasons fetch much more than one with color runs, a hole and several pulled threads – common sense.
Condition and age are logical, but what about other factors, perhaps less obvious ones, that may also influence a scarf’s desirability and ultimately its value.
A certain colorway may be more rare or more sought after. The year of issue can also play a big role. Lets use one of my favorites, The Le Bois de Boulogne designed by Hugo Grygkar in 1957, as an example.
The same design was re-issued in the early 1980s in darker colors without the black background behind the swans resulting in a less dynamic scarf.
In this example, an original issue Bois de Bologne in inferior condition may be priced/valued equally or even higher than a reissue in better condition, simply because of its esthetic appearance (better colorway and black behind swans).
Another factor that may affect value is location – geography. Some scarves are more sought after in different parts of the world than others.
Kermit Oliver’s scarves depicting the American West are very popular in the US. His Texas Wildlife, for example has only recently gained the same momentum in Europe as it has enjoyed here in the US.
Timing is another factor than can influence perhaps not the value per se, but what someone might be willing to pay for your Texas Wildlife. Leading up to Thanksgiving this design attracts a lot of potential buyers. More buyers = higher demand = higher price tag. This is true for other seasonal scarves, such as the Noel au 24 Faubourg, Joies d’Hiver, Neige d’Antan and Plumes et Grelots for example.
It must be mentioned, that there are certain scarves that are simply more “coveted” than their sisters and cousins. Many times you will hear the word Grail to describe a scarf, such as the Hommage a l’Explorateur Sir Ernest Shackleton for example, designed by Zoe Pauwels and issued in 2005.
Very difficult to find, the “Shackleton” is definitely a modern Grail carre. Although there is a consensus on a number of scarves that are in the Grail category, like the Shackleton for example, this Grail list can, however, be subjective. What one collector may consider a Grail, another may not. I personally try to be very careful not to overuse this label. This includes describing a scarf “rare” or “very rare” can be somewhat subjective as well and again, I try to use them cautiously in my descriptions.
What scarves are on your GRAIL list, I wonder?
This post would not be complete, if I did not mention the role the artist/designer can have on the value or popularity of a scarf. Annie Faivre for example has a very large and loyal following around the globe. Kermit Oliver whose scarves celebrate the American West, are not necessarily all considered rare, but are quite popular and in demand.
Another highly sought after artist is Xavier de Poret, whose scarves are considered very rare. Famous for his pencil drawings, 5 of his carres (Les Levriers or Greyhounds and Mesanges to name just two), out of a group of nearly 30, are widely considered as the “rarest” of Hermes scarves.
I should also mention the Jacquards, which Hermes stopped producing in 2001 due to high production costs and only last year, 2017, began to issue jacquards in limited quantities, now called Tattoos. A separate post on that coming soon.
A jacquard scarf will typically either sell faster or for more than its twill cousin or possibly both. But just like the twills, the Jacquards as a group range in value based on the same criteria already mentioned.
Some top sellers in this category are Napoleon and La Cle de Champs and lets not forget the seasonal favorites (Joies d’Hiver, Neige d’Antan and Plumes et Grelots).
Last but not least, HERMES periodically issues scarves as a Special Issue (slight variation on an existing design) or a Limited Issue (limited quantities produced), both of course can heavily influence the desirability, availability and ultimately the value of that particular scarf.
In closing, it is important to keep in mind that any given value will fluctuate over time. Remember when way back in the 80s a brand new carre was somewhere around $140? Today the retail price for a 90cm twill carre is $395 US.
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