Category Archives: History

Luggage Luxury

Packing for a well-deserved holiday can be stressful, depending on the length of the trip and the expected activities. If all you need is a couple swimsuits, shorts, T-shirts, and maybe a long skirt for evening, there’s no problem fitting everything into a carry-on bag. But if the journey requires business casual as well as relaxation wear, it becomes more difficult to cram everything into a suitcase that fits into an overhead bin. Who could blame you if you wished for a more spacious piece of luggage. Perhaps something like this?

It won’t fit in the overhead bin, and you don’t really want to carry it into the airport, but it is a reminder of days gone by when people didn’t carry their own luggage, and traveled in steamships or by train, and luggage came in more luxurious forms.

There was a piece of luggage known as a wardrobe trunk. One model by the Mendel-Decker Company of Cincinnati, Ohio was nicknamed “the Aristocrat of Luggage.” The 1930’s trunk stood upright and opened vertically. It had an enclosed compartment where clothing was packed on hangers, and drawers for shirts, shoes, accessories, and anything else. Sometimes the wardrobe included a side piece for hats. The wardrobe protected its contents with interior dust curtains and sturdy bolts and locks to keep the contents safe from elements and thieves.

Louis Vuitton remains the most famous purveyor of luxury traveling cases. When Vuitton opened his business in 1854, trunks had rounded tops so water would run off the surface, but they couldn’t be stacked.

Vuitton introduced flat topped trunks in 1858. The Trianon flat top trunk had a canvas cover to protect the contents from moisture. And the trunks themselves could be easily stacked.

Not everyone needed, wanted, or could afford, a wardrobe trunk. The trunks were excellent for steamship travel, but a bit bulky for the railway. Entrepreneurs introduced the suitcase design in the late 19th century. They featured an inner sleeve for shirts, but were designed for suits. Exterior surfaces were made from leather, wicker, or a thick cloth that stretched over a solid frame of wood or steel. They weren’t lightweight, but by the 1920s, the suitcase symbolized both mobility and adventure.

Luggage in the 21st century lacks the romance of a wardrobe trunk, but can be managed by one person. And there are waterproof, fully lined, polycarbonate cases that can stand up to airline baggage compartments. Sometimes you have to think outside the luggage bin and pack what you need to take on holiday with you. And if you forget anything, there are probably shops at your destination.



My Cat Takes Over the Suitcase.

Cat Sitting in Antique Luggage

Belber Wardrobe Trunk, 1920

The Customs by Antonio Mancini

Louis Vuitton with Family and Trunks, about 1888


Rimowa Air Salsa

Daniel A. Gross. “The History of the Humble Suitcase.” Smithsonian. May 9, 2014.

Titanic Survivors: The Socialite, The Actress, and The “Unsinkable” Woman

At 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912, RMS Titanic struck an iceberg. At 00.25 a.m. the next morning, the Titanic sent out a distress call. At 2:20 a.m. the ship sank. At 4:00 a.m. the Carpathia began picking up the 710 survivors. This is a story about three women who traveled in first class. One… Continue Reading

Honey – Nectar of the Gods

Spring officially begins on Wednesday, though winter is often slow in leaving. As the earth warms up, flowers begin to peek through, inviting bees to gather pollen. Bees, of course, produce honey from floral nectar and store it in wax honeycombs within their hives. During their six-week lifespan, each worker bee produces half a teaspoon… Continue Reading


I doubt any visitor to St. Petersburg misses St. Isaac’s Square, so it seems fitting that St. Isaac’s Square and its namesake cathedral are the focus of this final visit to the sights of St. Petersburg. Catherine the Great’s grandson Nicolas I who ruled from 1825 to 1855 laid out the square with St. Isaac’s… Continue Reading


The CATHEDRAL OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL was the second church in St. Petersburg. The first church was a wooden building consecrated in 1704. But it was never meant to last. Peter the Great wanted a cathedral to rival any building in Western Europe and brought in architect Domenico Trezzini to build a Baroque structure… Continue Reading


Palanga is on the shore of the Baltic Sea and the busiest summer resort in Lithuania. In addition to seaside activities, Palanga is famous for its Botanical Garden and the Amber Museum located within a Neo-Renaissance palace museum completed in 1897. The garden covers just over 247 acres with forests of pine and fir trees,… Continue Reading

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