{take me away № 04 | vintage & antique luggage}


There is something significantly special about vintage and antique luggage pieces. Unlike the compact pieces that are created out of convenience and necessity today: suitable for planes, trains, ships, and automobile travel—the type of luggage needed from years past is quite different.


For instance, baby strollers today are easy to clean and maintain, can carry a number of children at time, and can fold into a fraction of their size, not unlike an origami piece; whereas in the past, more scalable prams were standard, designed with large, more industrial strength metal parts, and were produced with fine materials
some even included beautiful paintings and special storage compartments, and were often decorative and treasured for many, many years.


The same is with luggage; today, we seek quite different conveniences and scales, and yet can appreciate and enjoy the beauty of pieces from a bygone era.


Proficiently and arduously, “constructed by hand from metal, timber, leather and brass, these trunks were highly sought after and favoured by royal families and international high society alike.”


Traveling in style was considered as important as where one would travel. It’s lovely to imagine the sorts of journeys these pieces went on—exotic trips to Africa, trains through Europe, new homes and lands, discovered . . .


[continue reading sarah‘s tips for purchasing vintage and antique travel cases below . . .] x

{before modern luggage}

Even before suitcases, there were traveling trunks; made in a large variety of shapes and sizes and from many materials that, in fact, date back to pre-medieval times. Because they were built to endure long journeys and last for years upon years, they are rather sturdy. Not only were there proper trunks for journeys, but also proper ways in which to pack such trunks. Even in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, there were lines with mention of proper packing.

Note : for modern-day packing tips, refer to the previous post, {perfectly packed}


A trunk may have contained a number of things: it might have carried a lady’s month worth of necessities while she was traveling to stay with family in another city or country; gifts, solely shoes, or even a bed in some of the most unique of cases. Some trunks were personalized, made to specific standards, and with carefully chosen materials; there were many styles, with differences of shape, country of origin and purpose.


{before purchasing}

There are many possibilities for sourcing luggage from the days gone by: estate sales, antique shops and even specialty décor stores may stock vintage and antique pieces. There are also specialty luggage shops all over the world that source quality designer pieces.


Whether you are looking for a vintage suitcase or an antique trunk, it is important to determine your purpose for the piece. Do you intend to use your new-found hatbox or simple enjoy it as décor? Moreover, if you favour a specific designer brand and are looking to purchase, it is wise to do a little extra research, as each brand is quite different. You should look into telltale signs that it is authentic, first and foremost, before purchasing, and be certain that you are paying for the true worth of the piece.

Note: If you intend you use your antique or vintage luggage, be sure to select the use carefully as rough handling of your piece[s] may occur while en route, particularly on an airplane.


{authentic vs. counterfeit}

If you are looking to purchase a designer piece, here are a few key things to look for:

First, be certain that the shop that you are purchasing from is legitimate; one that seems less upfront [i.e. in an alley] is probably not going to offer the highest quality and/or authentic goods.

Second, if you come across a piece that you are interested in, you may ask for a certificate of authenticity; some shops may not have one on file, which does not necessarily mean that the item in question is not authentic.

Thirdly, be aware of the price. True designer pieces (especially those that are more rare, vintage or antique) are generally far more expensive; low prices often signify a fake immediately.


h e l p f u l h i n t s :

01 Scale : Often a series of luggage designed will have particular [i.e. standard] sizes set for each piece. Beyond the overall scale, look at the scale of details such as zippers, tags, branding, handles, etc.

02 Branding : Designer bags are often branded in a number of places. Each designer has their own guidelines on particular areas in which their logo, symbol or a combination ought to appear. Beware of large mistakes that may appear in the spelling of the brand and the logo representation.

03 Exterior Material : The material should look, smell and feel authentic and high quality. Though the piece is vintage/antique and there may be wearing, the bag should look nicely worn, not tattered, especially in highly handled areas such as the handles; there may be some fading, depending on the age and use of the bag, but a difference in color is quite a problem.

04 Interior Material : In many cases, a custom fabric has been designed for the lining of the luggage. Whether the fabric showcases the logo, a brand pattern, or a significant color, be sure to look closely.


05 Interior Tags : Many tags have the brand either hand stitched or stamped. Most often, a knockoff will not imitate this detail. Some may include a serial number as well, helping to signify an authentic bag.

06 Stitching : Look at the stitching throughout the entire bag – a true designer bag is known for not only the design, but for the quality of fabrication. An authentic bag will have impeccable stitching, in even the tiniest and tight of areas. Steel away from frayed stitching or loose ends that will often appear on handles of imitations.

07 Zippers & Pulls : Designers are just as concerned with the hardware, fasteners, zippers, etc. as they are the main material of the piece. Take a close look at the zipper pull some are branded and others are surprisingly not [such as Louis Vuitton] – a counterfeit will often miss this significant detail.


{handle with care}

If the piece contains a bagged lining [loose from the body] check for any holes, rips or tears. If the lining is in a bad state, and you wish to replace it, it is best to contact a furniture upholster company to re-line.

{look closely}

Look for flaws; scratches and dents may have occurred, especially with great use, that may compromise the functionality of the locks and latches. Be sure to make note if there is missing hardware, damaged straps, etc. If you still decide to purchase the piece, any damage will affect the value, and you may wish to have aspects replaced.


{a quick clean}

Some believe that a well-kept piece needs little more than a good clean to revive it. If you wish do so, great precaution should be taken. As each piece [and its needs] is different, as with restoration, seeking a professional is often best. If you do not wish to do so, begin by airing out your piece. Depending on how long it was in storage, it may need refreshing.

For leather, you may then follow with a suitable cream leather cleaner from a shoe store and apply with a soft cloth. However, if there are stains/tough spots, a professional dry cleaner is needed, as goes for the lining; follow with a leather conditioner to replace the leather’s natural oils. For suede, brush gently with a specifically suede brush to remove dirt. For plastic, gentle soapy water clean on the exterior should do the trick.


{professional restoration}

It is not advisable to restore luggage and/or trunks yourself. Often preserving the value of the pieces requires a keen eye and knowledge. Some prefer to give a new life to their luggage by painting it all one color and converting it into a piece of furniture; others prefer to restore it to its authentic, intended beauty and extend its life.


Before setting off to restore, it is important to receive a few appraisals, suggestions and quotes from different professionals. Some professionals would prefer to lovingly restore each piece without the addition of any other gadgets, and will polish the brass, restore aspects of the body, and perhaps replace the leather, or equivalent; it is up to your preferences.


i d e a s f o r d e c o r a t i n g

With a little imagination, while your vintage or antique luggage is not in travel use, whether now or ever, there are a number of possibilities, from creating a table to stowing away a beloved gown and memories, a few of which are below:

01 in a smaller piece, tuck in your favorite letters, cards and meaningful notes

02 store your handbags inside and place in a closet or elsewhere

03 a wedding keepsake, containing your gown, albums and special memories

04 line the interior [to protect] and place vases of beautiful flowers inside, opened

05 in a guest room, place lovely things, such as magazines, stationery & snacks inside

06 for fun, hide your telephone inside as Audrey did in Breakfast at Tiffany’s!


{images : one // two // three // four // five // six // seven // eight // nine // ten // eleven // twelve // thirteen // fourteen // fifteen // sixteen // monogrammed linens, french garden house via sarah‘s pinterest}

[additional credits: quote from vintage luggage company; research from a number of sources, some spoken and others: ehow and wikihow, with further citations and sources]