Luggage through the ages

June 18, 2011
A time to pack

Bags have been around since the days of the B.C. man purse. Since then, they’ve moved from waists to shoulders, finally sprouting wheels (but not wings, yet). Herewith, some significant milestones in baggage history. Luggage, this is your life.

Ancient Egypt

Based on hieroglyphics, Egyptian men wore a hybrid fanny pack and man purse or, as we’d call it today, the manny packurse.

1854

Louis Vuitton establishes his company, making it fashionable to trot around the world with trunks, suitcases and duffels covered in somebody else’s initials.

1917

Poet e.e. cummings ostensibly coins the term “duffel bag” in a letter written while he was serving as an ambulance driver in France during World War I.

1965

The Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Co. (est. 1910) becomes the Samsonite Corp. (after the biblical strongman), purveyor of indestructible suitcases. In the 1920s, the company had been the first to make the three-piece matching set of luggage.

1989

Robert Plath, a Northwest Airlines pilot, earns his wings by inventing the Rollaboard. In response, millions of travelers set down their bags and start pulling.

1992

Don Ku of Flushing, N.Y., earns a patent for his wheeled suitcase with collapsible handle.

2010

According to the Department of Transportation, airlines collected $3.4 billion in baggage fees last year. Perhaps we should travel more like the ancient Egyptians.

Compiled from reports

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