When you’re looking to buy a secondhand Chanel handbag, or even sell or consign your own, understanding how Chanel authenticates its handbags is crucial. Authentic Chanel serial numbers and date stamps follow a unique identifying system which can be used to establish if the bag is a true Chanel.
Below we uncover the history behind Chanel’s serial numbers, how to correctly identify a bag, and also how Chanel has recently updated their authenticating system. So whether you’re looking to buy or sell, this guide can help you understand how Chanel’s serial numbers work.
Why does Chanel use serial numbers?
It’s all about countering the counterfeits. As the Chanel brand grew into the iconic French powerhouse it is today, the number of fake bags and counterfeiters also rose.
As such an iconic brand, the number of counterfeited bags began to have a noticeable effect on the reputation and exclusivity of the brand. So an authentication system was needed.
The original Chanel serial numbers
In 1986, Chanel introduced its first set of authenticating serial number stickers and cards.
Within the interior of each bag, there is a unique 7-8 digit code (occasionally 6 digits on older bags) on a sticker that’s fixed to the lining, flap or a leather tag. This code identifies the bag itself (not the style or model) and also the year in which the bag was created.
The year is usually represented with the first two digits, then the remaining numbers are a unique combination code that is unique to that single bag or item.
In 1986, the serial codes began with a zero, followed by 6 additional numbers — for example, “0XXXXXX”. As another example, bag codes created between 2008 – 2009 would use “12XXXXXX”
These stickers were also paired with an authenticity card, which presented a matching, embossed serial code. Together they would provide the authenticity of the handbag.
The authenticity card is usually a black plastic card with contrasting white text and a gold line border.
When dating a Chanel bag, this coding system is useful in being able to pinpoint the year the bag was created. This helps when determining whether a bag can be officially classed as vintage.
Updating the serial number system
Over the last few decades, the official authenticating system has been consistently tweaked and improved. This can make the process of identifying a Chanel bag reasonably complicated, as each year or two the appearance of the serial code alters slightly.
Although complex, by updating the date code system, and also applying stylistic changes to the date code label itself, it became much more difficult for counterfeiters to replicate original bags with a copycat serial number.
Generally, the main difference is the change in the first two digits of the serial number, which will reflect the year the bag was created. Another significant change came in 2005 when serial numbers moved from 7 digits to 8.
A list of the Chanel serial numbers 1986-2020
Below we’ve created a table which outlines the Chanel serial number changes, from 1986 until 2021, when the new Chanel authentication plaques were introduced.
|Manufacturing Year||Serial Number (Date Code)||Identifying sticker and/or card features|
|1986 – 1988||0XXXXXX (or 1XXXXX, 2XXXXX)||Larger than the following serial number stickers.|
|1989 – 1991||1XXXXXX||White sticker with CC logo in a repeat pattern. Opaque film.|
|1991 – 1994||2XXXXXX||The number 1’s are in a serif font (with serifs and ‘feet’).|
|1994 – 1996||3XXXXXX||The number 1’s are in a san-serif font (without serifs or ‘feet’).|
|1996 – 1997||4XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 1994 – 1996.|
|1997 – 1999||5XXXXXX||The later serial numbers (beginning with 57, 58 and 59) have a serif font on the 1’s. The transparent tape covering the sticker features the Chanel logo vertically on the right-hand side and a dark vertical line on the left-hand side.|
|2000 – 2002||6XXXXXX||The sticker features a small X which makes removal of the sticker impossible without damage. The number is printed below the CC logo on a white sticker and covered with transparent tape flecked with iridescent gold. Each zero has a slash through it.|
|2002 – 2003||7XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2003 – 2004||8XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2004 – 2005||9XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2005 – 2006||10XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2006 – 2008||11XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2008 – 2009||12XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2009 – 2010||13XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2010 – 2011||14XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2011||15XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2012||16XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2012 – 2013||17XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2013 – 2014||18XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2014||19XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2014 – 2015||20XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2015 – 2016||21XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2016 – 2017||22XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2017||23XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2017 – 2018||24XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2018||25XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2018 – 2019||26XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2019||27XXXXXX, 28XXXXXX, 29XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
|2020||30XXXXXX||Similar characteristics to 2000-2002.|
Every single handbag, wallet or purse has its own unique, 7 (or 8) digit combination code.
The new Chanel authentication plaques
Over the years, counterfeit factories have been able to match the handbags and authenticity cards with such detail, that Chanel needed a new approach. So in 2021, Chanel furthered their attempts to limit counterfeiters by adding a small, microchip identification plaque to all new handbags.
Instead of an identifying date code, each bag will now feature its own Chanel plaque and unique alphanumeric code, consisting of 8 letters and numbers. Coin purses, card holders and other smaller leather items, however, will continue using the serial number and authenticity card system.
Knowing how to spot a fake Chanel bag is crucial when browsing physical secondhand shops or online marketplaces with individual sellers. To ensure your new Chanel bag is genuine, we recommend purchasing a secondhand Chanel bag from a reputable online pre-loved seller with an authenticity guarantee.