Posted by Editor on 15/02/2017
Time to book your next trip,maybe for half term, its mountains and snow for us but wherever you go enjoy the break.
When you need a suitcase you pull it down from the top of the wardrobe or from the back of your closet. You don’t think much about it. They’re all pretty much the same really, the same uniform shape and design, wheels, handle, all attached to a rectangular shaped box with a zip. Yes, you get them in different colours, but suitcases aren’t what they used to be. On a functional level they’re far more practical and easier on the back when carrying all your holiday gear to your favourite holiday location, but that’s all.
Suitcases aren’t like they used to be, the square suitcase made out of all kinds of curious materials with their special locks and matching handles. There seems something almost clandestine about a traditional old fashioned suitcase, closing those brass locks and loading the car, as if you’re going somewhere secret, somewhere no one must know about.
The wheelie suitcase on the other hand does not give off this vibe at all, there’s nothing remotely attractive or sexy about a rectangular wheelie suitcase that you pull along behind you. There’s nothing more remotely unattractive than those fabric or even worse, plastic, rectangular cases that remind you of the shopping trolley with it wheels and tartan fabric lid.
The story of the suitcase
The suitcase didn’t really become popular until the end of the 19th century and they were mostly used for the storing of suits, (hats came with their own boxes). In the early part of the 20th there were many different styles of suitcase from which to choose because by that time, they’d really caught on in a big way. Suitcases were an imaginative travelling wardrobe for the adventurous traveller. The history of travel and of humans thinking beyond their local habitat is what we have with the evolving suitcase.
Suitcases weren’t just for the rich, they were also for the poor, and migration was big business with everyone being encouraged to pack their worldly goods away in a case before travelling. So whether you were travelling out of necessity or whether you were travelling for leisure for that longed for holiday, you needed a case of some sort.
The trunk quickly became the suitcase and was made from a variety of materials including rubber, leather and occasionally wicker. They could be waterproof and were lighter than the wardrobe trunks that had gone before, although naturally, they were nowhere near as light as they are today. The cultural significance of the suitcase started to have a secretive and mysterious reputation with books and films using the suitcase as a prop to illustrate a character’s murderous intentions, or a means of quick getaway.
It would take many years before the suitcase looks the way it does today, its materials changed to make it lighter changing to cardboard and plastic materials that were convenient and made luggage much easier to carry.
Luggage would become heavily influenced by aviation and with airline restrictions to consider - suitcases had to change with the times in terms of weight. However, ironically, suitcases have now started to resemble their forebears, the trunk. The beloved suitcase has come full circle.
If you’re a keen collector of suitcases, then look no further than www.antiques.co.uk where you will find a large versatile range of suitcases, from single ones to sets. There’s an interesting set of blue leather suitcases dating back to the 1970s, to a small leather suitcases dating from the 1920s. Perhaps you like the idea of a 19th century leather suitcase, the “Gladstone” bag - it’s beautifully made from leather. But there’s another, older suitcase, that although isn’t as attractive, still has its own beauty and air of mystery. This suitcase is from the 1920s-30s and made from wood and canvas, it comes with its own working catches and locks and it’s just the sort of suitcase you’d need if you were a character in an Agatha Christie murder mystery.