Victorian Luggage Packs

Victorian Luggage Packs

Victorians traveled extensively, more and more with each generation. Those Victorians who could afford to travel lived a lifestyle of comfort and glamour. They packed their items heavily and were usually away from home for longer periods of time. Sturdy luggage that could handle all of the many personal items Victorians brought along on their trips was needed to support the desire of Victorian people to “travel in style”, as they felt was befitting of their stature in the community.

Victorians were known for taking their comfort and enjoyment very seriously whenever they traveled, whether long or short-distance. Often accompanied by many, many pieces of luggage, even for weekend trips into the country, the number of pieces of heavy luggage and hand baggage would astound baggage carriers today. Farther trips meant even more luggage was needed to carry clothes, fancy gowns, and many personal items required for a superior Victorian vacation.

It was the custom of the day to travel by ship and by train. Just like women of today carry tote bags filled with personal items, reading materials and so forth on to airplanes, Victorian women did the same when traveling. Therefore, Victorian travel required two types of luggage; hand baggage and heavy luggage.

Heavy luggage was made up of chests, trunks and portmanteaux, or what we might today call small portable closets. Trunks date back to the Middle Ages, when leather covered wooden trunks made an appearance in the 17th century. Trunks were essential for Victorians touring Europe. No matter what the Victorian elite chose to bring on a trip, there was luggage designed to hold it.

Hand baggage, what we might think of as vintage carry-on luggage, included expensive and beautiful silver-topped toiletries, brushes, combs and, in the days before electricity, a candlestick to light up the tiny hand mirror so the lady could gaze upon her face. These handbags could be made from leather or a number of other suitable fabrics.

Another popular piece of luggage was the French carpet bag, made with soft outer fabric sewn over a metal frame. Carpet bags were light and roomy, so they were popular among Victorian ladies and it was common to see Victorian ladies strolling with their carpet bags.

The materials used in making Victorian luggage were considered rare even then. Crocodile, Moroccan leather and various fabrics and laces make these items extremely collectable in today’s antique market.