Vintage Luggage - Buyers Guide

Vintage Luggage from LoveAntiques

Vintage Luggage - Buyers Guide

A Buyers Guide to Antique and Vintage Luggage

Below, you will find all you need to know when considering purchasing Antique Luggage, with some advice from one of our Antique Dealers and some handy tips to consider from our resident Interior Designer.

Antique Leather Luggage


Expert Guide to Antique and Vintage Luggage

Our antiques expert, Chris Watts, from Salisbury Antiques suggests considering the following when buying antique luggage.

1. Originality - Pay attention to the handles on antique luggage, they have often been replaced, which will ultimately affect their value. Ensure that the handles are correct and actually match the piece of luggage. Locks are also another feature of note that may have been replaced. It is more often than not fairly easy to spot replica antique luggage, but beware, as some are more authentic than others.

2. The Lining - It is possible to purchase antique luggage with its original lining, this too will impact upon the value, especially if the lining is in exemplary condition. Again the lining of antique lining may have been replaced over the years due to usage and wear and tear.

3. Names - An antique suitcase or item of luggage with a well-known and reputable name will be of added value. Famed names such as Louis Vuitton have been making antique luggage since the 19th C and he is a perfect example of someone whose luggage is sought after by collectors and fashion fans. If you are looking for an investment piece you cannot go wrong with an item of antique luggage made by very reputable names.

4. Rarity - Some items of antique luggage are scarcer than others and should be appreciated for their rarity. Steamer Trunks are an item of antique luggage that are now notably hard to find, therefore are a coveted item of antique luggage. A nice steamer trunk made from canvas with metal corners makes for a lovely item of luggage.

5. Leather Suitcases - There are plenty of attractive leather suitcases on the market, many of which are in good quality condition. Look out for the quality and colour of the patina when searching for a leather suitcase as some may be more worn than others. It is possible to get suitcases with a lovely colour patina that has aged beautifully over the years. A set of three leather suitcases is also a nice fine for an antique luggage collection.

Antique Suitcase


Interior Designers Guide to Buying Antique and Vintage Luggage

Our resident interior designer, Lizzie Greenaway, has complied five points below to consider when purchasing antique or vintage luggage.

1. Display it

Antique and Vintage luggage is wasted hidden away in your wardrobe or storage cupboard; sometimes they are too attractive to hide away. Why not display them in the corner of a room; stacked upon one another they can become a feature in their own right.

2. Diversify

Antique and Vintage luggage can be converted into writing surfaces, side tables, and even a stand for a lamp; this item has been diversified by many interior designers, adding a quirky element to a rooms interior and making for a unique piece within the home.

3. Storage

Antique and Vintage luggage need not be used for their original purpose, why not use them as an attractive way in which to store your favourite books, important paperwork or photos. An antique trunk makes for the perfect toy box or blanket box.

4. Mix and Match

What type of antique or vintage luggage are you looking for? Be aware there is a great deal of variety from suitcases, to holdalls, to work bags, travel trunks, carpet bags, grooming kits, vanity cases and briefcases. Luggage needs to be fit for purpose but remember to also purchase something you like; you can buy an antique case that not only fits all your belongings for a trip but also looks stylish. Don’t be afraid to mix and match styles and sizes.

5. Fashion

Bags and luggage are very much a part of fashion, for decades designers have made beautiful items of luggage, from Louis Vuitton to Prada to Chanel. Start a beautiful collection of these pieces in your home; they need not be for practical use but just to admire, a collection of beauty in their own right.

Extra Considerations when Buying Antique and Vintage Luggage


Of course even antique and vintage luggage of exceptional quality will be expected to have some signs of wear, there may be minor scuffs or the shape may have been compromised slightly, but there is a difference between signs of usage and luggage that has been very poorly cared for. Vintage luggage was often personalised so it is more than likely it will feature the initials or name of its previous owner embossed on it. In some cases the lining of the luggage may need replacing, it is important to use a professional to do so as not to damage the luggage interior or exterior.

Environmentally Friendly

By purchasing antique or vintage luggage you are in turn minimising your environmental impact. By purchasing antiques it reduces the need to manufacture products, it is a green alternative to buying new luggage, by reusing pieces from the past you in turn protect the future of the planet and reduce your carbon footprint.

Valuing Antique and Vintage Luggage

A great deal of information regarding the value of the item of luggage can be determined by the name of the maker and retailer. Pay attention to the quality of the leather hide and stitching and the condition of the luggage item, these will all affect the value of the piece. The wood used in the construction of some antique and vintage luggage will also determine its value; pine was a more affordable wood, whereas walnut and oak was of higher value.

The lining, the hinges and clasps will also impact the value of the luggage, those on the more expensive end may be lined with silk or velvet, whereas a more affordable case would have been lined with paper or canvas. Antique or vintage luggage that has all its original features in tact will also be of more value than those that have had elements replaced, such as the locks of handles.


It is important that your antique or vintage luggage is packed securely, ensure it is wrapped in bubble wrap or boxed securely to avoid damage in transit. When transporting items of value it is always essential to use a reputable, secure delivery service. There are delivery services in the UK that directly deal with the packing and sending of valuable antiques, such as luggage, artwork and furniture. Insuring any items of value before shipping will ensure that if in the event the item is sadly damaged you can still be compensated accordingly.


During the 1930’s it was often a woman’s role to take care of the luggage, to make sure it was cleaned, waxed and polished. Some antique and vintage luggage has been well maintained but others may need extra care and attention. When cleaning leather luggage it is possible to use cream leather cleaner, which you can gently rub the case with on a soft cloth. If you are cleaning leather, remember to use a leather condition afterwards to replace the natural oils in the leather that may have been lost. In terms of treating suede luggage, use a gentle suede brush to remove any dirt or grease.  


Vintage and antique luggage represents a passion for travel, for adventure, for a journey once taken, reminiscent of the journeys of the previous generation, seeped in romance and mystery as to what they once contained.


Image Credits:- 
Antique Luggage 1 (first Image):
Antique Luggage 2 (image to the left):
Antique Luggage 3 (image to the right):
Vintage Luggage (last image):