• A Brief History of Luggage

    The history of luggage dates all the way back to the mid-to-late 19th century. Through the years, these carry along essentials have had a total transformation. Many trends have come about, such as double-locking suitcases and sticker covered trunks.

    Historically, it is interesting to see the eras change as we step back in time and watch luggage evolve. It shows a progression of travel from trains, cars, planes, as well as the development of our countries. This progression is also one of technology, as time has brought the need to be constantly connected.

    The Early Days

    During the 19th century, travel was mainly done by steamships and stagecoaches. The trunk was the most popular form of luggage. It was very big and bulky. Some trunks could weigh in at 100 pounds empty. These were the days when the hired hands did all the work. The wealthy  traveler never worried about the weight of the trunk, as they were not the ones who would be carrying it.


    Travelling was tough in these days, so the luggage had to be able to withstand the long journey it was partaking in. Steamer trunks that our top quality were constructed with wood and leather. Some even had an iron base, which was extremely heavy. However, this type of base helped them from sliding around during travel. To help protect the trunk from water, they were covered with canvas or tree sap.

    In the mid 1850s, Louis Vuitton made his debut with the pioneering slat trunk. This trunk was covered in canvas, included exclusive drawers, and a flat top to accommodate the stacking of luggage. Vuitton died in 1892, but his outstanding brand still remains intact today.

    The Turn of the Century for Travel and Luggage

    Late in the 19th century, traveling became more prominent for leisurely reasons. The Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company introduced the first suitcases. This company name later switched to Samsonite.


    Suitcases were actually designed to hold suits. There was a switch in the 1930s, where commercial airplane flights became the preferred way to travel over steamships and trains. Early suitcases were constructed with leather and wood. They were large and bulky, but not near as big as a trunk.

    The 1950s brought the intro to a lighter weight suitcase made of aluminum. These types of cases are still used today. Rimowa was the first to design these suitcases, which is a company based in Germany.

    Rolling Into a New Era


    The 1960s brought even more population to the commercial flight industry. With this, travelers grew tired of carrying luggage that was heavy. Prompting the invention of rollers that could be strapped to your suit case. This was known as wheel trolleys. By 1972 affixed rollers were introduced, and rolling luggage became a hit.

    Trends from 2000 and Beyond


    The design of luggage continued to progress. Events such as 9/11 caused security changes to be made with commercial flights, which also affected luggage. These changes affected baggage weight restrictions and dimensions for carry on bags. It also brought with it a fee for checked-baggage.

    Rimowa introduced the first polycarbonate suitcase. These are a hard-shell case, and are made by most large luggage manufactures. By 2004, the rolling suitcase was improved by Samsonite. They introduced a spinner-style case. It comes equipped with four wheels that can be pulled, pushed and spun in any direction that you wish.

    Luggage continues to improve as time ticks on, but travelers do too. They are more aware of what they need to utilize when it comes to traveling with luggage. The luggage market is so big that you can easily find something to fit all your needs.

    Written by Jennifer Ogden

    Jennifer Ogden

    My passion comes from the words I pour upon a page. Writing is something that has carried me through my life, and it fills me with joy each time a reader hears my voice. My writing obsession started in fourth grade, and it has now become my full time job. I wake each morning overjoyed knowing that I get to share my passion with the world.

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