In the past owning a real alligator purse and/ or a pair of alligator shoes was something elegant women aspired to. Lately, vintage aficionados have been seeking them out again. I have been a connoisseur of the real deal for a very long time and have managed to acquire a few choice specimens. Therefore, I become passionately enraged when I see reptile skins incorrectly identified. For this reason I have decided to show some examples of real reptile skins and correctly identify them for people who are interested in the real thing so that they can learn what it should look like. If you are looking for an alligator purse or a snakeskin handbag or a pair of real alligator shoes be sure you know what it should look like because one of the places I have seen a profusion of misidentifications is on vintage sellers websites! Yes, people who claim to know what they are selling frequently misidentify different types of reptile skins – calling lizard and python alligator for example.
It is not really difficult to tell the difference once you have seen a few good examples and it is fun to impress people with your knowledge! Plus, it is important to know what is what if you are trying to acquire the real thing. I think the best way to learn identify alligator is to look at a few examples of the real thing. Lets get started with:
A GALLERY OF ALLIGATOR PURSES AND SHOES!
Three Real Vintage Alligator Purses From The Lady Violette Vintage Handbag Collection
Beautiful Petite Black Alligator Bag from Bellestone circa 1960
The backside of the little Black Bellestone Bag: note that the size of the scales differs on each side of the purse. It is is not uniform. This is an indication that this is a real alligator skin.
A label such as this one is a great help in identifying what type of skin this is! Many vintage items are labeled inside because saying they really were alligator helped the seller get a higher price.
These gorgeous Butterscotch shoes from the 1940s are fortunately labeled Genuine Alligator!
Green alligator shoes made in Italy in the 1980s. Again note how the scales change sizes – a sure indication that the skin is real, not calf leather embossed with an alligator looking faux scale!
A beautiful pair of classic brown alligator pumps from the 1950s – these were the ultimate status symbol shoes to own and could be worn with everything – this pair was made by Foot Flairs.
The Ultimate score! A pair of brown Alligator Springolators by Beth & Herbert Levine – 1951
The ultimate 50’s Bag was a Bellestone to wear with your alligator pumps and springolators! You could get your alligator shoes at Henry Bendel’s Shoe Salon for about $1500 and then head over to the Bellestone showroom and find a co-ordinating real skin handbag for $3.000 to wear with them. These bags and shoes were so expensive that women wanted to show them off all the time – thus they could appropriately be used all seasons and worn with everything else in your wardrobe.
This is the Bellestone label which is always stamped discreetly inside the bag on the lining! This company used only real skins for their creations. If they said it was alligator it was. Familiarizing yourself with the names of the designers and manufacturers who made the status goods will help you locate the real thing.