In our world of delayed trains and budget airlines, it’s easy to forget that travel was once a glamorous business. During the golden age of steam – which dawned towards the end of the 19th century – taking a trip was an event to be savored and looking the part was vital.

Every self-respecting passenger boarding a train or transatlantic steamer had a set of smart luggage in tow. But now days steam has long since evaporated, it’s these vintage treasures luggage, in beaten-up leather with worn chrome catches, which are left to remind us of the past romance.

Photo by Thelma Carrillo. Over the limit.

Almost as soon as the first steamers set sail, houses such as Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Asprey got to work creating luggage fitting for the first class hold. Their cases and trunks, now vintage treasures luggage for us, all exquisitely crafted, were the last word in luxury and fetch high prices today. It didn’t stop at simple suitcases either. There were elaborate picnic luggage sets, fully equipped vanity cases and, maybe the ultimate: steamer trunks. Fitted with tails and drawers these were fully mobile wardrobes for those who refused to pack light. Plenty of other companies made good quality now vintage treasures luggage, if less indulgent, leather vintage luggage of course – collectors should look out for Finnigan, Boswell, Barker, Norris and Harrods.



The earliest luggage was made from tanned leather but makers more adventurous as time went on. Particularly chic were cases crafted from vellum, a milky-white material made from the skin of calves, kids and lambs. Undeniably feminine, vellum luggage recalls the glamour of the roaring 20s and you’ll feel like a film star it swinging on your arm.

vintage treasures luggage

With the advent of air travel, cases also started to be made of aluminium. Sturdy and lightweight, these were ideal companions for pilots and the new jet-setting crowd and still look wonderful contemporary polished up even they are vintage treasure luggage now.

Beware of cases made of brown painted board though, which, at first glance, can pass for leather. These were issued to wartime evacuees in their thousands in 1940s and, although these vintage treasure luggage characterful, have no great value so make sure you don’t pay over the adds.


A selection of original labels from far-flung destinations gives a piece of your vintage treasure luggage that evocative finishing touch. Labels were issued by hotels, airlines and steamship companies as a way of connecting now vintage treasures luggage to its method of transport and finally ti the right hotel However, they soon became fashionable status symbols, a means of showing the world you were well travelled, cultured and wealthy.

Today vintage treasures luggage represent a very popular area of collecting although, being easy to copy, you do need to be careful. Their appeal rests in fabulous designs, which perfectly capture the excitement and luxury of pre-war travel. Hotels, with names such as The Excelsior and The Majestic, UK promised a taste of the exotic, and even today their labels inspire itchy feet and desire for adventure.


Old leather of your vintage treasures luggage has tendency to dry out so will need to be nourished occasionally with good quality wax, either clear or in a dark tan colour. How often you need to reapply will depend on the conditions your vintage treasures luggage is kept in so display it away from direct sources of heat, such as radiators or strong sunlight, which will encourage drying and cracking.


Although vintage luggage can certainly still be used, its main appeal these days is decorative. A stack of vintage suitcases in a study or an old school trunk at the foot of bed will impart the popularity of these items among decorators and designers, vintage luggage specialists Henry Gregory Antiques, UK began making their ‘customised’ trunks – new pieces made from antique leather and fittings and designed specially for use as occasional furniture.

Also beloved by decorators is the hatbox. Although now gone out of use, this once-indispensable luggage item looks fabulous displayed on top of a wardrobe. Collar boxes, too, may be redundant in terms of their original use, but they make stylish storage for cuff links or pocket change.

Storage being the perennial problem for most of us, the popularity of old vintage treasures luggage is due to practicality as much as aesthetic appeal.

The vintage treasures luggage is a novel solution – everyone who buys one opens it up and says, ‘look at all that lovely space’!