It’s A Mystery… I’m Seeking It’s History!

It’s A Mystery… I’m Seeking It’s History!

So I got this little mystery for Christmas…

It’s history, I’m sure, is kept under lock and key.

Here is the clasp that goes with it…

And the underside of it, too.

A little rusty, but vintage for sure.

I thought this brass tag might be a clue…

And maybe these brass nail heads, too.

They’re pushed through to a wooden frame on the inside…

That’s clad in an off-white papery fabric.

The exterior has reinforced leather corners…

And the top is fitted with a super heavy-duty leather carrying handle.

Notice the  two brass dots sitting flush with the top?

They’re holding each of these odd clips in place, on the sides and the bottom, too.

And what’s really odd is each pair of clips is mounted with their openings facing the opposite way from one another…

That’s all the sleuthing I was able to do.

Do you have any leads?

I learned all about so many vintage luggage styles…


When I researched this piece I thought maybe it was used by a photographer back in the day. Do you remember how big their cameras were back then?

And then I thought maybe it housed a projector. But the inside seemed too plain with no compartments compared to a projector case.

I learned there were luggage pieces called train cases and vanity cases, but this piece is 18″W x 15.5″D x 15.5″H, so I think it’s too large for either one of these.

I also learned from The Arts & Crafts Home that the history of vintage luggage is closely related to the history of travel, and also the history of hotels…


I learned that…

As time passed from the 19th to 20th Centuries and the use of staff, both personal and professional declined, the need for more personal (and lightweight) luggage arose. This, combined with the advent of air travel and the associated weight restrictions begat a universal reduction in the weight, size and structure of luggage.

There is a lot more information, and if you’re interested in vintage luggage, I would recommend you check out this link to read the rest of what The Arts & Crafts Home has to say. It’s pretty interesting.

Are you’re wondering what I plan to use this vintage treasure for? Well, when I spied it on Used Cowichan way before Christmas, right away I thought it would be perfect for storing my Maria Killam colour boards and assortment of fan decks. Who knew that wish would come true? For now it’s part of our living room decor, and has my most recent magazines hidden inside!

In the end…

I still don’t know anything about my vintage case! Do you? I’d love to know more about it!

Thanks for stopping by!

Signature 100x47 b&w

Photographs by Sheila Zeller; please link and credit if you choose to use!

17 thoughts on “It’s A Mystery… I’m Seeking It’s History!”

    • I thought of you when I wrote this piece, both because of the vintage luggage, but also because of the TCE boards and that common thread! And, hhhhh…., still not much closer to solving the mystery. I am really stumped with this one, because I seriously could not find anything close to it on line, and I looked for a long time! I keep hoping someone will come forward with an insightful piece of info. for me. I just really want to know how old it is, and what it would have typically been used for…

  • Could it have been used to carry an object of some kind for a profession ie., docter, printer or surveyor? Interesting piece and I’m sure you will give it new life and purpose, look forward to it.

    • Happy New Year Linda!
      I love seeing familiar names pop up 🙂
      I wondered about a doctor, but never thought of a printer or surveyor! Thanks for the ideas – I’m going to check them out, because it would make sense for the size of the case. Fingers crossed!!!

      • Happy New Year to you as well. Being invloved with the Stewart Historical Society, I have seen this type of case in our museum. What are your plans for it? Good Luck!!

        • Being involved in the Stewart Historical Society must be really interesting. I bet the history from that area is quite amazing given its location and background. Right now I’m planning to put my colour boards and paint chip fan decks in it – so it’s storage, but the case itself will be out where everyone can see it. I haven’t moved it from my living room yet, so it’s sitting at the end of my couch. I actually really like it there, so who knows if relocating it will actually happen!

  • okay, I don’t know if I can solve the mystery but my parents had almost exactly like this in their basement and it had an old movie projector in it. After they both passed away we sold it at auction…too bad, I wish I had it now,

    • I wondered about a movie projector, and with your comment I’m going to search a little harder on that. The size would make so much sense…
      Isn’t it funny how things come ’round. I keep thinking of so many things my Mom had, but put into garage sales, etc., and now I wish they were here!

  • Cool! That is a really neat piece and I like the fun of imagining what it was used for. What is it lined with? Any hints with the lining perhaps?

    • The lining has the texture of a linen, or very fine grass cloth. It has a little, tiny tear in it, and the fraying around the tear looks like fabric not paper, but it feels like more like paper in the spots that are a bit bubbled. When you push on it, it sounds like paper. So I think you’re right, the lining is definitely a hint, but I still couldn’t unearth much info. Still a mystery that I’m dying to solve!

    • Thank you for stopping by! I so want to shed some light on this piece… and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that eventually someone will know something about it. I’ll keep searching 🙂

  • I stumbled across this purely by accident while searching for a particular case for an ongoing project (and this was not the one). Anyways, perhaps someone else has mentioned the possibility, but I am 95% sure what you have is a top hat box (early 1900s)… I’ve learned ENTIRELY too much about these type of cases over the last couple of years from my own search, and actually wasted a good year missing them on Ebay/Etsy/etc because I searched under ‘luggage’… These rectangular hat boxes don’t usually pop up easily with generic searches and, even if they do, you’ll get traditional round hat boxes that look nothing like this.
    So, if you’d like to see more (and they are still fairly rare), try searching ‘leather top hat box’ (leather gets you the better ones) and you can find many very similar to yours. Have a great day!

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