The age of luggage as we know it began with the railways. Before that, travel was either a coach pulled by a team of horses, or on a train of horses, palfreys and mules. Only the very wealthy traveled with their own carriage and baggage train. For a description of this age of travel see the opening chapter of Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe . Roads were so poor that wheeled transport was more trouble that it was worth. It was better to travel by horse with your baggage on mules. Many goods were shipped by mule train if the terrain was difficult, such as in the mountains, or where only mule tracks and not cart tracks existed. International travel consisted of pilgrims visiting the Holy-Land, leaving a well-trodden route behind them, which was punctuated with inns. The 'Via Francigena' from Canterbury in England, via the Grand St Bernard pass, to the Holy Land was one of these routes.
The Dark Ages were not quite as dark as the modern appreciation would have us believe. Many artisans such as ornamental masons and carvers would travel across Europe as their work demanded. There were extensive riverine trade-routes from Scandinavia to the Black Sea and the Varangian Guard of the Byzantine Emperors was manned by Vikings, notorious for their drunken fighting when off duty. They left Runic graffiti in the Hagia Sophia which is still there today.
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After the renaissance came the age of the Grand Tour . Almost exclusively the preserve of wealthy titled Englishmen such as Lord Byron, who had a replica of Napoleon's campaign coach made to take him to Italy. Unlikely to travel without servants, their baggage was extensive and would be loaded onto the carriage which carried the servants.
Not only did railways allow a whole new class of person to travel but combined with steam driven ocean liners enabled inter-continental travel. Rail travel meant that large quantities of luggage could accompany the train in the guard's van, baggage van or Fourgon and thus the array of luggage which includes the steamer trunk, wardrobe trunk and dispatch box was born to us. Labor was still cheap enough that armies of porters were available to trans-ship these trunks at each point of transfer. Liner terminals had their own rail termini and trains which provided a 'met service' where the train was drawn up on the dockside to meet the liner as it arrived. Truly joined-up travel.
Jones Brothers "Bombay" Despatch Box. "Fitted with Tray with Partitions, for pens, pen-holders, inks, stationary and rules, with Brass Lever Lock and Duplicate Key and Strong Leather Strap all round. Japanned Polished. Ebonite and Gold." This is the sort of Despatch Box that those in the military and civil service would have used on the Empire routes. It was the laptop computer of its day.
Sea-going oak chest belonging to Captain Robert Falcon Scott used on the British Antarctic Expedition of 1901-1904
Early 19thC: An automobile trunk. Which is why the trunk on an automobile is called the trunk.
1932: Rolls-Royce saloon license plate GY 6194 with bodywork by Hooper showing extended trunk
The golden age of luxury liner travel was, like its counterpart luxury train travel, from 1900 to the Second World War.
Grand Hotel (1932)
In Grand Hotel (1932) Greta Garbo plays a Diva who is giving performances in Berlin, the »Grand Hotel« in question being the Hôtel Adlon. There are several scenes set in her rooms and in the background you can see a full-height wardrobe trunk. Something of an understatement on the part of the art director and set dresser, since no self-respecting Diva would travel with only one wardrobe-trunk.
A wardrobe trunk used on the set of Grand Hotel (1932) representing part of the luggage train of Greta Garbo . In later frames you can see the trunk when it is open.
Here aboard the SS Normandie at Pier 88 you can see no less then five of Marlene Dietrich's full-height wardrobe trunks. For Marlene, this would be 'travelling light'.
1939-June-14: The SS Normandie at Pier 88 in NYC. Marlene Dietrich travels with five full-height wardrobe trunks, one steamer trunk, and one regular height wardrobe trunk. Eight hat boxes. Her full-height wardrobe trunks were designed to hold long evening gowns with full trains or items such as her gigantic Swan's Down coat. These full-height wardrobe trunks are rare and dealers with a lifetime in the trade will see only a handful of them. They were heavy to move even when empty but necessary for a woman such as Marlene, who relied on her wardrobe at all times. Marlene Dietrich was en route for the Hôtel du Cap Eden Roc , at Cap D'Antibes, one of two summertime vacations she would spend there. Likely she would have joined the train at Le Havre (the home port of SS Normandie) for Paris arriving Gare St Lazare and then to the Gare de Lyon for either the Train Blue or the Mistral , for the French Riviera and Cannes.
In 1956 Ian Fleming was writing to W. Somerset Maugham who lived on the French Riviera at Cap Ferrat. He tells that he will send his wife Ann down by the Blue Train.
TO W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM, ESQ., Villa Mauresque, St. Jean, Cap Ferrat, A.M., France
From The Man with the Golden Typewriter by Fergus Fleming:
A wardrobe trunk opens like a book stood upright on a table top, in contrast to a steamer trunk which is a box with a lid. Note that the wardrobe trunks are domed in order to prevent them being stood upside down. Prior to the age of air travel and the weight limits which eventually came with it, one could carry as much luggage as required, including large dispatch boxes , some the size of a small bureau, complete with all necessary correspondence and books. By the Sixties, the age of mass air travel had truly arrived, and the Great Liners were crossing the Atlantic with more crew than passengers. The age of the Great Liners was only a hundred years, from the fore-noon of steam railways in the Eighteen Eighties to the Nineteen Sixties. For an account of those times see Jeff Cooper's superb book of memoirs Another Country, chapter four The Crossing. Jeff Cooper crossed the Atlantic on Acquitania , Mauretania , Berengaria , Olympic , Majestic , Rex , Conte di Savoia , Bremen , Europa , Île de France , Normandie . For accounts of the travails of less civilized liner travel on the British Empire routes from London across Europe by rail and thence from French and Italian Ports via the Suez Canal to the Middle East, India and the Far East, read Sir Ronald Storrs superb volume of memoirs Orientations.
- Winston Churchill travelled the Empire routes on several occasions: His initial deployment on the Malakand Field Force, then to the Sudan as well as South Africa. Sadly he is not as illustrative of the details of travel via boat train and steamer as Sir Ronald Storrs.
- In 1956, Ian Fleming crossed the Atlantic to New York City on the RMS Queen Elizabeth with his friend Ivar Bryce
- In Islands in the Stream, Hemingway has the protagonist cross the Atlantic via the Ile de France on his journey from Bimini via New York to Biarritz, between the wars.
Le Havre Gare Maritime & the SS Normandie. The station was destroyed around 1974. Calais Gare Maritime survived into the 1990s. Cherbourg's derelict and unused dockside liner terminus survived until 2001 when the drydock was extended into it in order to house a submarine in there. Up until then the rail tracks and the wartime Nazi concrete emplacements were all still there. In the 1970s the Nazi concrete gun emplacements in the hillside above the town were still there but by 1999 they had been camouflaged and painted over to stop them looking so menacing.
Journey's end: Marlene Dietrich at the Hôtel du Cap Eden Roc , at Cap D'Antibes, Provence.
Here you can see some of Marlene's original luggage on display at the Deutsche Kinemathek-Museum Film Museum in Berlin.
Marlene Dietrich's luggage as been monogrammed »M.D.«. The red roundel was added to aid recognition of the luggage during loading and unloading at station platforms and docks. This was a common feature of luggage because of the quantity of luggage and number of times it would have to be trans-shipped. The leather handles look like they could do with being doused with a little leather food. You can see on one suitcase nearest the camera the symbol of the Lloyd Lines operating out of Bremen . The functionality of Marlene's luggage has a beauty of its own. But the knowledge of the life and times it traveled through gives the imagination wings, as if the objects had been suffused with aura of the era.
Marlene Dietrich's full length Swans Down coat. If this creation was a mountain, it would be Mount Everest. The peak of haute-couture. The coat was designed by Jean-Louis and the cloth by Bianchini Ferier , of Lyon , France (Lyon was the center of the World's cloth trade and the largest producer in the world of silk until overtaken by the city of Patterson, NJ). The coat, unique in couture, would have cost as much as a house and would have required an entire full length wardrobe trunk to itself in order to be transported.
Marlene Dietrich wearing her Swan's Down Coat
Marlene Dietrich's Swans Down coat in the Deutsche Kinemathek-Museum Film Museum, Berlin.
Marlene Dietrich on the SS Bremen : This time traveling light
The wardrobe trunk of Princess Margaret , sister of the Queen of England . The trunk was manufactured by an English company called Papworth . The blue and black livery was common on Papworth trunks.
Winston Churchill and his bodyguard cross Horse Guards Parade, with a Despatch Box. Looks like they are heading for the admiralty. Ministerial dispatch boxes are made by Barrow, Hepburn & Gale. One of Winston Churchill's ministerial despatch boxes came up for auction in 2014-DEC and was sold for over GBP100,000.
Parliamentary dispatch box by Barrow Hepburn and Gale circa 1950s. Issued to Martin Redmayne (1910-1983) bearing the cipher stamped in gilt 'ERII'. Eighteen inches wide.
This is the classic ministerial dispatch box which does not have a handle. Presumably the case is carried from the office to parliament by a messenger. The heavy wear visible could be avoided by using a canvas slip case.
The lid is marked 'Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury'
Interior of the lid is marked 'BARROW HEPBURN AND GALE, LTD - GRANGE MILLS, S.E.1.'
During the war the great liners were pressed into service as troop carriers, with their huge capacity and unrivalled speed offering great advantage. The RMS Queen Elizabeth was finished in time for the war and never entered commercial service. On her maiden voyage her captain received sealed orders containing his destination which were only to be opened once at sea. They instructed him to sail to the United States. Their high cruising speeds meant that U-boats found that difficult to attack. The liner would appear over the horizon and be over the opposite horizon before the U-boat could organise its attack, and the great speed meant that the calculation of the lead required to aim a torpedo shot was difficult. Adolf Hitler put a bounty on the head of the two Queens, the RMS Queen Mary and the RMS Queen Elizabeth, offering the Knight's Cross and a hundred thousand dollars to any U-boat captain who sank one. Winston Churchill recorded in his memoirs that at first they ran the liners with their maximum regulation compliment of one passenger for every one place in a lifeboat, but later in the war they ran the liners to capacity, which was over double that number, and just trusted to luck that there would be no great loss of life. The two Queens were so useful as troop transports that the US government order the construction of the SS United States for a similar role. The SS United States was built to naval military standards, which meant internal subdivision and no fittings made from wood or other combustible materials. . An exception had to be made for the piano in the ballroom. The SS United States is presently (2012) moored on the Delaware River. Sadly much of its interiors have been stripped out. There is little chance of it being returned to service partly because of the astronomical cost and partly because liner-service and cruise service require a different type of ship. You will have noticed that the modern cruise liners are all built like barges in order to maximise revenue from cabins providing a view. Furthermore, they have to be propelled by azipod thrusters (instead of props) in order to manoeuvre and dock in harbors whereas liners have fixed propellers and require tugs to manoeuvre them in port. Most of the interior is missing from the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth is at the bottom of Hong-Kong harbor.
In the pre-war era, Pan-Am had operated the giant Boeing Clipper flying boats on trans-oceanic services. This was no ordinary feat and when war broke out it was Pan-Am who had to teach the navy about trans-oceanic over-flight. When war broke out Pan-Am still operated their trans-Atlantic services but via the Azores to neutral Lisbon. In 1941-FEB none other than Ian Fleming, then 2DNI, used the service. On the same flight was Elsa Schiaparelli.
From Ian Fleming's novel Diamonds are Forever (1956):
In the 1960s the end of travel via ocean liner came with the arrival of jet air travel. It was fast, comfortable and safe, unlike the piston-engined propeller driven airliners. To an extent the pre-war Boeing Clipper services had heralded the arrival of luxury air travel but the star of civil aviation did not rise until the invention of the jet airliners such as the Boeing 707 and the DeHaviland Comet. While Pan-Am's clipper service handled the trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic routes, the Empire routes to India, South Africa and Australia and points in between were handled by the Shorts Sunderland flying boat service. It took nearly a week to reach Australia because transportation was maritime and all transportation services began and ended at ports. They flying boat service connected the ports via air. Airfields were short and in remote places, essentially military installations. Traveling by air to places like Aden and Bombay must have been a romantic adventure but it was for those in service or for those who were independently wealthy.
From Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Marilyn Monroe rummages through her wardrobe trunk
Louis Vuitton half height wardrobe trunk . This internal layout, with clothes hangers left and drawers right, is the most common in wardrobe trunks. Most wardrobe trunks open to ninety degrees but some are designed to open to one-hundred and eighty degrees in order that they may be stood flat against the wall.
In the world of antique trunks, Louis Vuitton trunks command prices ten times that of any other make of trunk. Louis Vuitton themselves have to purchase antique Louis Vuitton trunks from dealers to fill their shop displays. If the actual function of a trunk is required then any of the other makers will be satisfactory and will avoid the huge premium on Louis Vuitton trunks. Louis Vuitton has realized that it can access the huge mark-up on its vintage trunks by re-starting manufacture of new ones. The price of old trunks had reached a height where soon it would be economic to forgers to fake them. The most important part of faking antiques is reproducing the wear, tear and accretion of dirt and trunks are the most difficult items in this regard because of the amount of wear and tear they received and the quantity of dirt which lodges in their surface openings. In the antiques trade, fake dirt is added to reproductions using Indian Ink.
Both Louis Vuitton and Goyard will make for you full-height wardrobe trunks but for the price of an automobile. Artisans in the cabinet-making trade will make you a full height wardrobe trunk for one-hundredth of the price.
Hermes made several standard height wardrobe trunks in leather for the Duchess of Windsor . Likely they were made for use in automobile travel. They have been returned to the possession of Hermes. Goyard made wardrobe trunks for the Duke of Windsor.
Louis Vuitton makers label '78 Avenue Mrceau, Paris'
A modern Louis Vuitton bureau trunk.
This superb piece of innovation carries the three most important accompaniments to any voyage: (1) Good quality Arabica coffee, (2) books and writing papers and (3) signals traffic, in these times made through a laptop computer. I do not think I would ever go home. Sadly it is too large and heavy to be transferred into an aircraft hold. Special and costly arrangement would have to be made. Air travel is now so cheap and labor so costly that even routes between poor countries are made using air travel, not steamer. Up until the Eighties there used to be regular steamer services between the Indian subcontinent and the Trucial States in the Arabian Gulf, upon which laborers could make their annual return home, taking large quantity of luggage and newly purchased possessions with them. However, all this, including the freight is handled by aircraft now.
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- The age of mass air travel would arrive at the end of the 1960s and with it, the end of the Liners. 1965 when After the Fox (1966) was being filmed, was one of the last years that one could travel via Liner and train. The character Tony Powell, played by Victor Mature, has traveled to Italy on a trans-Atlantic liner and his wardrobe trunk is his suite at his hôtel.
- Ian Fleming's mother lived in a villa in the grounds of the Hôtel Metropole in Monaco. When Ian visited her in 1962, she would take a daily walk 200 yards downhill but her doctors had forbidden her to walk back up the hill and so her aged Rolls-Royce had to be brought up in order to return her to the hotel. During the journey back to London via Wagon Lit, on which Ian would accompany her, she took fourteen trunks of luggage.
From After the Fox (1966)
Victor Mature is very tall which obscures the great height of the full length wardrobe trunk.
In the background we see a full-length wardrobe trunk. You can see that it is long enough to contain Tony Powell's trench-coats. Even taller wardrobe trunks were made to contain items such as Marlene Dietrich's gowns.
Britt Ekland with Tony Powell's hair coloring all over her face.
A Rimowa half height Wardrobe Trunk made from Aluminum.
Rimowa made their name in luggage during he early days of air travel when weight suddenly became a consideration and aluminum began to be used in the construction of luggage. There were occasions when luggage would have to be ejected from aircraft in mid-ocean due to adverse weather conditions affecting their fuel consumption. The Boeing Clipper service , if facing a head wind, would be able to take only a portion of the passengers and their luggage, depending on how strong the head wind was. On one occasion they could only take a small lady passenger but the headwind increased further and the flight had to be cancelled. You can see the Boeing Clipper service in Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent (1940) .
It was Pan-Am's luxury service which started in the early 1960s which can claim to have supplanted the luxury service of the liners. While the wealthy, celebrities and prominent individuals of the day would cross the continent via the luxury train services like the Chief and the Super-Chief, then travel onwards by liner, now they would travel by Pan-Am's luxury service in their Boeing 707s. Paparazzi photographers no longer loitered at New York's Grand Central Station, but at JFK airport. This era of luxury jet air travel is commemorated in the TV series Pan-Am .
The great age of air travel: Pan-Am stewardesses in the Sixties
To a great extent, the age of luxury air travel would begin and end with Pan-Am's luxury service. It met the same fate as the luxury liners as the age of mass air travel overtook it in the late Seventies and early Eighties.
From The Richard Burton Diaries by Chris Williams, Richard Burton makes an entry for Thursday 1968-SEP-26 in which he describes what must have been one of the last voyages of the RMS Queen Elizabeth in the dwindling twilight of the age of the Great Liners.
Thursday 26th, Paris We worked from 7 last night to approx 4 this morning. [...] Elizabeth has gone off to work and test costumes. She should be back before I leave I hope. After 7 or is it 8 years I still miss her if she goes to the bathroom. She starts work on Monday, and after a time we shall be working the same hours, Continental hours, so called, which means from mid-day to 8 at night. Occasionally, as I hopefully continue with this diary I will try and fill in things that happened during the unrecorded days. e.g. We took Kate to NY with us on the Queen Elizabeth. With us also we took Liza and my God-Daughter Sally Baker (Stanley's daughter), Nella, and a nurse named Caroline O'Connor for Elizabeth.11 It was an uneventful crossing, and, having been so often on the big ships, rather sad. [...] There was a general air of run-down gentry, frayed at the edges. [...] I wondered if after many years of travelling that I had become blas. Elizabeth said not, and Sally asked me if the ship had always been as shabby. Some of the life-boats and the great steel arms that presumably lower them into the sea were rusty and a great many of the weather-covers were torn. Sally had never been across the Atlantic before and so presumably had nothing to be blas about. While at dinner one night in the Verandah Grill, which is the same as ever, I was called to the phone to Ethel Kennedy.12 I thought it was some sort of crank, because I'd read in the papers as we left England that Ethel was on Onassis's island in Greece.13 However it later turned out that it was Ethel calling from Hyannis Port to ask me if I would do the narration of a documentary film about Bobby Kennedy. I said yes and did it in Quogue at Aaron's house. It was shown at the end of the disastrous Democratic Convention and was apparently the only thing in those vulgar five days that was well received.14
1969-MAY-13th TUE - We leave for LA tomorrow, spend a day with Sara, then to NY and spend a day with Kate, then to Paris and Versailles to be presented with the Medaille d'Or and spend a night and then to London and the Dorchester and rehearsals. [...] That is not to say that I don't like Europe. I love it with a passion and could never exile myself from it for longer than a few months, but I loathe the means of getting there. Flying must be, to the initiated, the most boring and paradoxically the most nerve-wracking method of transport ever devised by mankind for his own torture. In fact show me a man or woman over the age of 20 who likes being flown, I exclude pilots and private plane-owners, and say that they have no fear, and I will show you a LIAR. In any case I have a great fondness for flying-cowards. [...] Any man who confesses to me that aeroplanes give him the screaming ab-dabs becomes a friend for life. When I first met Debbie Reynolds husband, Harry Karl, and when he confessed to me on the Queen Mary (I mean, of course, the ocean-going ship and not the late Dowager) that in the many hundreds of miles, hundreds of thousands of miles rather, that he is forced to travel in the course of his business, he had yet to get on a plane sober, I practically kissed him firmly on the mouth.96 He showed little taste in marrying Debbie but he obviously has an admirable talent for being craven. [...] Cowards die many times before their death, said the Swan of Avon.97 Include me in, Will. [...]
FromThe Richard Burton Diaries by Chris Williams: Richard Burton describes crossing the Atlantic in August of 1970 on the new Queen Elizabeth II
1970-AUG Friday 7th, Queen Elizabeth [QE2] We sailed yesterday at 5 o'clock. The ship is fine but horribly decorated. The British really have no sense of style, no sense of colour, no sense of line, of proportion, even of simple utilitarian sense. For instance, the door to the bedroom will not close unless you move the bed. The bed is fixed so the door remains permanently open. In both the bathrooms there are three sets of lavatory papers with the fitting fixed into the wall. In a desperate attempt to be with it the decor has only succeeded in looking like 1925 German exhibition. It looks not unlike our little Kalizma before Elizabeth had it re-done. The tables in the Grill room are decorated with lamps about a foot high that look like blocks of box-flats lighted on the inside. The famous Daily Telegraph newspaper is a flimsy couple of sheets without even the virtue of the crossword puzzle which was a feature of the ship's paper on the old Queens. The passengers so far fit the decor nobody seems first-class and we got the impression this morning when we went exploring around the deck at 7 o'clock that we were eternally wandering into the tourist section from the look of the passengers and the way they were dressed. We are still not sure. It may be a classless ship and we must ask and find out. She sails beautifully so far and there isn't a tremor from the engines and E became very nostalgic last night saying how unglamoured the whole thing was compared from her early journeys when First Class contained fabulous film stars and famous writers and crowned heads etc. And the engines really made the ship quiver and shudder. She became quite misty-eyed. I remember of course that the old Queens were pretty horribly decorated too, but at least it was substantial and expensively so. This ship gives the impression of being shoddy. But the rooms are pleasant and there are two little bars with all kinds of cute fittings and two small fridges one in each bathroom.
1972 Sophia Loren and her luggage train
Bond carries his Q-branch issue Swaine Adeney briefcase through arrivals to the taxi rank.
Scene: 00:23:47 At the hôtel.
Location: Pinewood Studios
Bond's briefcase is visible on the top of the dresser
Close-up of the brass catches on Bond's Q-branch issue briefcase. The case is clearly an over-lapping clamshell design.
Comparison of the brass catches used on (left to right) Connery's case from Dr No (1962), Barrow & Hepburn, Tanner Krolle. Connery's case was likely made by Swaine Adeney Brigg, as was the case in From Russia with Love (1963).
In EON's From Russia with Love (1963) , James Bond is issued by Q-branch with a modified briefcase. In Fleming's novel From Russia with Love (1957) we are told that the briefcase was made by »Swaine and Adeny« [sic] which is Swaine, Adeney, Brigg .
From Fleming's novel From Russia with Love (1957) Chapter Eleven
Q Branch had put together this smart-looking bag, ripping out the careful handiwork of Swaine and Adeney to pack fifty rounds of .25 ammunition, in two flat rows, between the leather and the lining of the spine. In each of the innocent sides there was a flat throwing knife, built by Wilkinsons, the sword makers, and the tops of their handles were concealed cleverly by the stitching at the corners. Despite Bond's efforts to laugh them out of it, Q's craftsmen had insisted on building a hidden compartment into the handle of the case, which, by pressure at a certain point, would deliver a cyanide death-pill into the palm of his hand. (Directly he had taken delivery of the case, Bond had washed this pill down the lavatory.) More important was the thick tube of Palmolive shaving cream in the otherwise guileless sponge-bag. The whole top of this unscrewed to reveal the silencer for the Beretta, packed in cotton wool. In case hard cash was needed, the lid of the attaché case contained fifty golden sovereigns. These could be poured out by slipping sideways one ridge of welting.
Scene: (00:20:50) In EON's From Russia with Love (1963) Bond is issued with a Q-branch attaché case. Q, played by Desmond Llewllyn, comes to M's office to brief Bond personally.
Location: Pinewood Studios
Q closes the red leather inner door to M's office.
From the script of From Russia with Love (1963):
Equipment Officer: An ordinary black leather case with rounds of ammunition, here and here. If you take the top off, you'll find the ammunition inside. In the side here, flat throwing knife. Press that button there, and out she comes. Inside the case, you'll find an AR folding sniper's rifle. .22 calibre, with an infrared telescopic sight. If you pull out these straps, inside are gold sovereigns in either side. Now, watch very carefully. An ordinary tin of talcum powder. Inside, a tear-gas cartridge. That goes in the case against the side here, like that. It's magnetised, so it won't fall. Shut the case. Normally, to open a case like that, you move the catches to the side. If you do, the cartridge will explode... in your face. To stop the cartridge exploding, turn the catches horizontally. Like that. Then... open normally. Now you try it. - Turn the catches... like that. - That's right. And open ordinarily. - You got it?
Bond: - Yes, I think so.
Equipment Officer: - Is that all, sir?
M: - Yes, thanks very much.
Bond: That's a nasty little Christmas present. But I shouldn't think I'll need it on this assignment.
M: All the same, take it with you. Good luck, .
Bond: Thank you, sir.
Q demonstrates the concealed ammunition.
A good look at the profile of the case. The section of the case has a rounded top side. The locks are solid brass. They are the same brass locks which are fitted to all of the cases of the best-London makers. Cinema Retro report that case was designed by Syd Cain.
The concealed throwing knife appears. Yes there really was no baggage screening until the first PLO hi-jackings around 1968. You can see the era of airline security screening ushered in during the first horrifying minutes of Midnight Express (1970)
The red leather interior, together with the folding AR7 Explorer .
The gold sovereigns are pulled from their concealment.
The tear gas canister.
The tear gas canister is held by the magnets
A look at the top face of the case. Not the handle is a thick section of sewn leather and is secured to the case by the rings. This type of handle is fitted to all of the best-London makers of cases and it is the easiest way to identify a case quickly. The handle is made from successive layers of leather and during use it gradually moulds itself to the shape of your hand.
The handle and fixings in profile. Note that at frame left, the top half of the briefcase appears to over-lap the bottom half.
A view of the side of the case.
A view of the profile of the case which Bond as parked on Moneypenny's in-tray.
Scene: Bond and Grant fight to the death on the Orient Express 01:26:20
Location: Pinewood Studios
In the above frame we see the end of the briefcase.
Red Grant shows Bond the incriminating 8mm Ciné reel. That yellow clip on the reel olds the end of the film within the reel.
In the above frame we see the underside and end of the briefcase. The shadow seems to indicate that the top half of the briefcase is larger than the bottom half and that the briefcase shuts with an overlap.
The the frame above and below it appears that the top half of the briefcase is larger than the bottom half.
London was blessed with excellent makers of leather cases as well as excellent saddlers. The three leading makers of cases are:
- Barrow, Hepburn & Gale , thence Barrow & Hepburn, now Barrow & Gale., who make the purses the Queen of England hands out on Maundy Thursday as well as the ministerial "Red Box"
- Tanner Krolle , who are are company founded by a German, Herr Krolle
- Swaine Adeney Brigg , who hold the royal warrant to supply the royal family with a number of leather items related to equestrianism.
Barrow, Hepburn & Gale, established in 1780, were one of a large group of tanners based in Bermondsey, on the south bank of the river in London, who formed the Guild of Tanners . The tanning industry had been based there since there was a tanning industry.
Barrow, Hepburn & Gale, make the famous ministerial red dispatch cases used by ministers in the British government. The most famous of these cases is used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The cases are designed with the carrying handle and the locks on the spine of the case. This is to prevent the case being picked up without it being locked. If it is not locked then when the case is picked up by the handle the lid falls open and all the papers fall out. Some cases are lined with lead slabs so that if the bearer is on a ship, the case will sink if it is thrown overboard. Presumably these cases are issued to the Foreign Office. Lead makes airport scanners go wild but if these cases travel abroad they will travel as diplomatic bags. Intelligence officers (MI6) manning foreign outposts used to store papers in filing cabinets interspersed with sheets of non-safety film. Non-safety film was unstable and highly flammable. When you put a match to it, it would conflagrate quickly and forcefully, destroying the papers in seconds. History does not record whether the papers in the briefcases were transported between sheets of non-safety film. I loathe to think that these magnificently theatrical mechanisms for transporting secret papers may be replaced with soul-less digital devices. The recent theft of the CIA's information by a defecting operative may put and end to this transition. Markus Wolf, head of the Stasi for most of the Cold War refused to allow their records to be computerized to prevent exactly this kind of theft. His position has been vindicated.
Barrow, Hepburn & Gale also repair the wear and tear on the ministerial red cases. The corners on the cases are smooth and have neither the reinforcements nor the special join most frequently seen on attaché cases, where the leather side terminates at the corner and is stitched-through on the flat, leaving the two ends of the leather sticking out. This design means that the wear is focused on the ends of the leather, which are bonded and hardened, rather than the surface of the leather. The British government could save themselves a lot of expenditure by having canvas slip-cases made to protect the the cases during transport.
Chancellor Kohl so admired that red leather dispatch case of Prime Minister John Major that John Major had Barrow & Hepburn make for Chancellor Kohl a red leather dispatch case embossed with the Bundesadler . The dispatch cases of the royal family were all made by Barrow, Hepburn & Gale. The cases the Queen uses for her personal papers made from leather in the color imperial purple. The cases of the Prince of Wales are green. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother had her own dispatch cases of a different color.
In the late Eighties, Barrow, Hepburn & Gale, now trading as Barrow & Hepburn, opened a retail shop at 25 Bury Street, just off Jermyn Street in London, which together with Saville Row, is the center of men's outfitting in London. Barrow & Hepburn's range of cases became available to the general public.
Barrow & Hepburn beeswax
Barrow & Hepburn maker's panel
Sometime in the early 2000s the shop on Bury Street closed and the name Barrow & Hepburn, always discrete, seemed to disappear. Up to then the Barrow, Hepburn & Gale name had only been mentioned in the press once and such was their preference for being discrete, they seemed to disappear entirely.
When I made enquiries along Jermyn Street one particular dealer in luggage (and sometime manufacturer) made a claim to have inherited the Barrow & Hepburn name and business. As well as telling that lie, they tried to charge me a fortune for repairing a Barrow & Hepburn case. The name of their business is not mentioned here.
Only recently, by making enquiries via "one of Barrow, Hepburn & Gale's largest customers" did I discover that the company was now trading as Barrow & Gale and all was business as usual.
Ian Fleming would not have heard of Barrow & Hepburn because they did not open their shop on Bury Street until the early 1990s. They seemed to supply their customers directly. Fleming would have heard of Tanner Krolle but Herr Krolle was German, which would make his manufactures unsuitable for issue to James Bond. Swaine Adeney Brigg had a shop around Piccadilly or Bond Street (which has moved many times) and thus Fleming would be familiar with them. This is why he had Q-branch issue a Swaine Adeney Brigg briefcase to James Bond.
The case used in From Russia with Love (1963) was made up by props man Bob Luxford at Pinewood.
The best cases can be identified by:
+ Handle made from layers of leather laminated and stitched. The handle gradually molds to the shape of your hand.
+ A lack of brass corners. Do not ask me why. Partly because they might wear the equally fine Connolly hide which forms the seating in Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce and Bentleys. Oddly, the opposite is true of rifle and shotgun cases, which nearly all have brass corners. It is likely that these cases will take some hard knocks on the inside of shooting brakes and Land-Rovers.
Scene: 00:38:26 Bond helps Tilly Masterson move her luggage from her wrecked Ford Mustang to his Aston Martin
Tilly Masterson's rifle case on the rear shelf of Bond's Aston Martin
In Goldfinger (1964) at 00:38:26 Bond runs Tilly Masterson's Mustang off the road on the descent of the Furkapass. When he offers to give her a lift he helps her move her luggage from her car to the Aston Martin. When they are on the road, Bond looks back through his rear view mirror at Tilly's rifle case, which is on the rear shelf of the Aston Martin.
BOND AND TILLY
She glances back.
CLOSE SHOT - HER CASE
The initials on it are very visible.
INTERCUT - BOND AND TILLY
In the days of videotape I had imagine that this was a leather rifle case but on DVD it seems to be a wooden case. From the appearance, it is likely that this case was made by the studio props department.
The »Best London« gunmakers (Purdey , Holland and Holland , Boss , Westley Richards as well as rifle makers like Gibbs and Wilkes ) used to supply their shotguns and rifles with equally fine wooden framed leather cases. My understanding is that they used one maker but I do not know who it was. The problem with this area of artisanship is that no new craftsmen have come into the trade and makers tend to fold with the death of their last artisan. For example, all of the best English bootmakers used the same artisan to make the wooden trees for their riding boots. Only one man was left making them and when he retired there would be no more. This was in the mid-1990s.
Outside of the London makers, FN Herstal used to have the cases for the top end shotguns made by small workshops in what was then (late Seventies) Communist Poland.
London makers are very expensive compared to the same product (if a comparable product may be found) to Stateside makers, which can be less than half the price. Partly because the cost of raw materials and labor is lower in the US but also because mark-ups in the UK are higher. (Adobe charge more for Adobe Creative Suite in the UK than they do in the US, even though it is the same package and downloaded from the same server; Various makers of GPS systems charge more for the European maps for no particular reason other than they can charge more in Europe).
English manufacturerers of luggage, Globe-Trotter , have made a replica of the rifle case they made for Skyfall (2012)
From their newspage:
For SKYFALL, the production team required a rifle case and Globe-Trotter were called on board to produce a bespoke piece to the specification of the rifle used in the film. Working closely with the film's armorer, Globe-Trotter developed something truly unique, inspired by Bond gadgetry of the past. Months were spent perfecting the design and finer details, which included developing a bespoke telescopic sight for the rifle. The traditional case was transformed into something truly unique that had never been produced by Globe-Trotter before
There is also a special edition range of luggage hand crafted from Globe-Trotter's signature vulcanised fibreboard. In a range of sizes, from Slim Attaché to Extra Deep Suitcase with Wheels, the series is formed from Black vulcanised fibreboard with Black Box Grain leather trim and chrome locks. Inside, each case is beautifully lined with a jacquard weave featuring the iconic Bond gun barrel design, and finished with unique 007 serial number plaque
Globetrotter have quietly manufactured good quality hard luggage from vulcanized fiberboard for the last hundred years.
- Robert Falcon Scott took Globetrotter luggage on his Antarctic expedition
- Winston Churchill used a Globetrotter attatché case during his tenure as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924
- HM Queen Elizabeth, Queen of England, chose Globetrotter luggage for her honeymoon in 1947
- Sir Edmund Hilary used Globetrotter luggage to reach base camp on the Everest expedition of 1953.
Globerotter but have recently expanded into small leather goods and opened an extra workshop to do so. Small leather goods have a high margin, hence the expansion of companies like Mont Blanc, the maker of fountain pens, and Smythson the stationer, into ladies handbags, the area with the highest margin. Globetrotter may achieve 'brand' 'greatness' which may mean an increase in prices so you may wish to purchase your luggage now . Update: As of 2014 I think I might be right. Zero Halliburton started as a maker of solid practical luggage in the 1930s and slowly progressed to a higher-margin upscale brand.
The manufacturers of leather luggage who have been in the industry for a hundred years have their own workshops but the recent arrivals use other manufacturers. Smythson, for instance, uses the Spanish manufacturer Hermepiel .
(1) Delicate optical equipment has to go in hard luggage of sufficient structural integrity you can stand on top of it, like Peli Products .
(2) Transit to a yacht (anything under a hundred feet, for the sake of argument) requires soft luggage like tubular army kitbags, so that it can be stowed on board, which hard luggage cannot.
(3) Putting expensive equipment into checked luggage in an age when baggage handlers have X-ray machinery poses a significant risk of theft. Items such as firearms, rock climbing racks, Scuba gear (especially rebreathers) are best stowed in luggage which is unobtrusive and cheap-looking, such as the injection molded clamshell luggage made by Samsonite or Delsey. The kit should then be locked onto a cable which is bolted onto a plate which is bolted to the case. I have many stories of expensive equipment being stolen by baggage handlers, very few of these stories have a happy ending.
LUGGAGE HANDLING AT AIRPORTS:
Those scuffmarks you see on the edges of softluggage are result of the luggage being loaded incorrectly on luggage transfer belts. As the luggage travels along the conveyer, it drags on the boards at either side and wears through remarkably quickly. To a certain extent you can stop this by ensuring that nothing hard or rigid within the softluggage sticks out causing a bulge. Skis should always travel in a hard tube because of the danger of damage to the bindings by luggage handlers. I like to think that there is a special place in Hell reserved for baggage-handlers, right next to the TSA.
If you have ever seen luggage handlers moving luggage from the baggage trolleys into the aircraft hold it will change your opinion of how much protection hard luggage gives. When the narrow gauge luggage trolleys are loaded to the top they are at head height. Luggage handlers will re-arrange or transfer luggage from the trolleys by throwing them from head height onto the ground. Other luggage just lands on top. I was once treated to about twenty minutes of this at a mid-Western airport and wished video cameras had been invented. Thus, when you consign checked luggage to luggage handlers, you need to pack the luggage and treat it in such a way as if you were sending it as a parcel through the mail. Like a crate being shipped via rail and ship back in the days when you could. This is the fundamental problem with 'fancy' luggage : It looks fancy while your valet is carrying it into the departure lounge but once it is handed over to the luggage handlers its fancy surface will be degraded in the above manner. Tough and tough-looking are the best qualities to aim for.
Makers of sports cars will sometimes appoint a maker of luggage to manufacture cases which are fitted exactly to the interior of their automobiles. Swaine Aideney Brigg make custom luggage sets for Aston Martin. Schedoni make custom luggage for Scuderia Ferrari.
I have seen Ferrari owners with purpose made canvas soft luggage, with little more structure than a laundry bag, which was both light and made the most of what space was available.This is the best way to fill a sports car with luggage because every space including the space behind the seats can be filled with fitted luggage. Each bag can be fitted with straps which hold it in position within the car to stop it flying around under hard g loading.
There are other unofficial makers of fitted luggage for sports cars:
- http://www.carryology.com/ on custom automobile luggage
Fitted luggage for the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
- Zero Halliburton : Zero Halliburton started as a division of Halliburton the oilfield services company. The owner of the company found that when he used leather briefcases for traveling around the hot, dusty roads of the Texas oilfields leather briefcases wore out and filled with the dust. At the time aircraft industry was beginning to work with sheet aluminum and he asked a fabricator to make a briefcase from aluminum which was air-tight. The method used was to forge/deep draw two thick aluminum sheets into the two halves of the briefcase, then mate each of the rims with a bead. This design proved greatly superior and the Halliburton case was born. To an extent, the original function of the Halliburton briefcase, to survive harsh conditions, has been usurped by the Peli case, which oilfield engineers and surveyors use to carry their measurement equipment.
Laughing Waters: Ursula Andress and her husband John Derek. John Derek's camera case is by Zero Halliburton
Zero Halliburton cigar cases. Securing the cigars in a Zero Halliburton, Peli or Otterbox cigar case ensure that the goods arrive at the event undamaged.
- While the President may have a staffer follow him around twenty-four hours per day carrying the 'nuclear football' case, which is said to contain all the nuclear launch codes, if I were President, it would be one of the above cases, loaded with my favorite Montecristos, the cigar cutter and some of the large size Davidoff matches. If I was going to launch global nuclear conflagration I would want to do so while enjoying a decent smoke.
Custom aluminum flight cases for prime lenses.
+ LAST REQUEST KIT
- There are small cigar cases made of silver or pewter which hold two cigars side-by-side. A variation on this container is where one of the barrels does not contain a cigar but instead a vial of spirits, with a screw-cap top. They are intened to be used at lunchtime during driven game shooting, in order that the gun in question may enjoy a cigar and a nip of brandy. They are, however, excellent as a 'last request kit'. It has been some time since we have been in a war like the Great War where spies are shot in a gentlemanly kind of way, and asked, while in front of the firing squad, if they have any last requests, which according to the conventions of fiction, was always a cigarette. The Mitteleuropa Q-branch issue 'last request kit' would also contain a sheaf of rice paper wrapped around the cigar, upon which was printed, in fifteen languages, a hail of insults to be hurled at one's captors, followed by vows of loyalty to 'the revolution', 'Führer and Fatherland', 'Queen and Country', Marlene Dietrich's underwear, et cetera, et cetera, as appropriate.
- There was a genuine 'last request kit' in the shape of a cyanide container issued to ranking SS officers and SS men who might face capture. The brass vial was about the size of the case body of a 7.92mm cartridge but machined with thicker walls and fitted with a knurled screw-cap. Within it were two cyanide capsules, which the Germans had captured a large shipment of in the early part of the war. The game really as up when you needed this last request kit. Göring used his while awaiting the hang-man. Himmler used his while being examined by Allied doctors.
- Peli cases The water-tight Peli cases are excellent for protecting Scuba equipment, optics, firearms and portable computers. I have seen instances of the Peli cases being converted to hold equipment which needs to be kept under pressurized inert gas.
- Otterbox Otterbox make a range of small watertight boxes which can be used to protect items like mobile telephones or cameras.
- Alutech of München. Alutech make large aluminum trunks which are stackable. They are useful for stowing and transporting camera equipment, tools and for sending equipment via air cargo. They are similar size to the steel air-tight containers which were used to pack WWII German parachutes, which GIs prized for sending back loot state-side. For smaller loads I use .50BMG ammunition canisters, or 20mm canisters. Containers for tank ammunition can be used for similar volumes but the containers are usually elongated rather than cuboid. Alu-tech are air-tight when new but because they are large and lightweight, they can be damaged out of tolerance by loadmasters parking stacker trucks on top of them and similar ape-like activity, which means they no longer seal.
Dita von Teese arrives at LAX with luggage by Globe-Trotter and Louis Vuitton
- Moynat Moynat is one of the big-four French luggage makers and specialized in making the trunks which were fitted to the outside of pre-war automobiles.
- Au Départ - One of the big-four French luggage makers.
- Louis Vuitton Louis Vuitton have managed to occupy ten times the media footprint that each of the three other French makers have occupied. The other makers are nearly invisible by comparison, and this is reflected by the fact that vintage Louis Vuitton trunks go for much higher prices at auction.
Veruschka - Self portrait smoking cigarette wearing a suite seated upon Louis Vuitton luggage
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor used Goyard luggage: - www.tdclassicist.blogspot.co.uk
One of the Duke of Windsor's Goyard trunks. Notice that the Windsor's have chosen a red and yellow stripe as the mark for all their luggage. This was to aid visibility when the luggage was being unloaded and collected.
The Duchess of Windsor's Goyard trunks and hat-box.
Karl Lagerfeld's Goyard luggage being portered into his hotel. With this magnificent peformance Karl Lagerfeld carries the torch which dropped from Marlene Dietrich's hand.
Trunk by Alfredo Beretta of Milano 1947.
+ AIRLINE TRAVEL, CHECKED LUGGAGE AND THEFT BY THE TSA
- Airline baggage handlers are one of the lowest forms of life in this particular spiral arm of the galaxy. Theft by airline terminal baggage handlers from or of checked luggage prior to 9-11 was occasional. After 9-11 X-ray baggage scanners were installed and suddenly baggage handlers could see inside the checked luggage. This enabled them to remove valuables, such as laptops. This was particularly easy because airlines required checked luggage to remain unlocked. There was no longer even a need for the baggage handlers to break into the luggage, they could just open it and remove the valuables. The companies which operate airline terminals either in their entireity or within individual functions, such as baggage handling, are often heavily unionised, which means that they do their best to avoid management oversight and activly resist measures such as security cameras overlooking their work area, or anything which would impinge upon their ability to steal. The main resistance from the unions to the advent of containerisation in sea transport was not the hundred-fold reduction in labor which it brought but the fact that for hundreds of years theft of cargo by stevedores was seen as a perk of the job. Containerisation all but eliminated this, although I have encountered ship's crews who would as a matter of policy always break into one container during the voyage.
-- Anti-Theft measures
As a matter of policy, valuables should travel in hand-luggage. Problems are presented when it comes to some sports equipment, such as SCUBA rebreathers and firearms. As a matter of policy it is a good idea to use luggage which blends in with the crowd. The type of luggage which is not mentioned on these pages, usually the injection-molded clam-shell type luggage of the kind manufactured by Samsonite or Delsey. This type of case is strong and anonymous. With the advent of TSA luggage scanners, it matters less because the baggage handlers can see directly inside.
--- A friend of mine developed a system for carrying pistols which consisted of a metal plate riveted to one side of the clamshell. A loop of steel hawser was bolted to the plate and ran right across the case to the other side. The loop was run through the barrel and out of the ejection port. The loop was locked with a padlock. This worked well except on one occasion he found that the case had been slit open down the side right next to the pistol. The thief had been unable to extract the pistol because it was secured to the other side of the case.
--- A friend of mine had a SCUBA rebreather stolen from checked luggage. They usually cost under ten thousand dollars. Gone is gone and there was not much hope but it turned up on www.eBay.com. The owner of the rebreather purchased it in the auction and then met the thief to make the exchange. They arranged for plain clothes cops to be present. The thief claimed that he "bought it off a man in the bar" and kicked up a fuss. They told him he had the choice of either handing back the goods or leaving with the cops, who were already working on rounding up this particular ring of TSA thieves.
--- Laptops and similar electronic items can be fitted with tracking devices which show you where they are. This gives you a better chance of locating them. I have heard some exciting stories of the stolen item being tracked on an iPhone while the stolen item was still transmitting its position and the victims of the crime were chasing its position in a taxi. Ideally designers should go one better and install not only a GPS tracker and transmitter but a remote command demolition charge about the size of a toe-popper mine.
Briefly, during his invasion of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein looked like he might put the makers of trunks back on the map. Fear of airline terrorism meant that tourists were not flying and there was much talk of reverting to ocean liners and train travel. Sadly this was all talk because tourists just stayed home in the United States, partly because of poor geography: Many of them imagined that Iraq was somewhere close to Europe. With high-spending tourists staying on the Continental US, a lot of the big hotels in European capitals started to lose money and much damage was done to the luxury hôtel trade. And it was not only the hôtel trade which suffered but the entire tourist industry, right down to sandwich shops. There was half-joking talk within the hôtel trade that every one needed to put some money into the hat to pay for a Mafia hit on Saddam Hussein, because it was either the hôtel trade which was going to be killed, or him. The World Trade Center atrocity on 9-11 and subsequent Gulf War II just deepened the effect of Americans staying at home and the prospect of seeing the Queen Mary (presently at Long Beach) and the SS United States (presently on the Delaware River) once more under steam, receded back into fantasy.
There are some people who still use trunks even though they travel by air: Orchestras not only have all the instruments to ship but the music and other pheriphera of musical travel in one or sometimes two wardrobe trunks. Karl Lagerfeld travels with a full set of Goyard trunks and Dita von Teese carries some of her stage apparel in trunks.
Lady Moran 129 Harley Street London W1, wife of Lord Moran, physician to Winston Churchill
+ EXTERNAL LINKS
- Lost Liners website
- Ships at Trains-Worldwideexpresses
- Liners at SS Maritime
- a Good history of trunk manufacture: http://www.legacytrunks.com/
- Lists of makers of trunks http://www.achome.co.uk/ , http://www.brettunsvillage.com/
- Louis Vuitton - Volez Voguez Voyages published by Assouline www.assouline.com - Many photographs of period Louis Vuitton trunks including special commissions such as trunks for transporting paintings.
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