Samsonite Antique & Vintage Luggage
Antique & Vintage Samsonite luggage is made by the Samsonite Corporation, started in Denver, Colorado, in 1910 by Jesse Shwayder. The original name was Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company.
History and Description
Shwayder named one of his cases "Samson", referring to its strength, after the Biblical figure noted for immense strength, and began using the "Samsonite" trademark in 1941. The company name was changed to Samsonite in 1966.
For many years, the sales office was decorated with a huge, inflatable gorilla, which remained the company trademark for thirteen years following a 1969 advertising campaign.
Samsonite has been at the forefront of "branding", using the gorilla in a notable advertising campaign in which a gorilla attacked, stamped on, and dragged around an American Tourister case.
Guide For Collectors
Notable brands produced under the Samsonite label include the American Tourister, which is aimed at the lower-cost end of the market, and was originally made by Astrum, which was later acquired by Samsonite.
In recent decades, Samsonite has become well-known for its hardshell luggage, with programmable locks offering security. These are aimed at the higher-cost market.
Vintage Samsonite luggage is noted for sleek but sturdy styling, often in the form of large trunks, as used for long-distance travel by train or ship. All Samsonite luggage carried secure locks with individually cut keys, and could therefore be used for the transport of valuables, such as jewellery, without the necessity of using a safe.
Smaller suitcases were also produced - in leather, as were the trunks, but in a wider variety of tones ranging from pale oatmeal to dark tan, reflecting the fact that they would be carried personally by the user and were therefore accessories.
Smaller and non-matching items of Samsonite luggage were aimed at the budget market, saw hard wear and don't usually carry high sale prices. An example is a set of four small vintage Samsonite suitcases offered for sale in October 2010 by Specialists of the South Inc. The cases had broken handles, and were sold for $15.
In January 2012, three pieces of Samsonite luggage (a vanity case, an attache case and a suitcase) all in matching faux alligator skin, were sold by Bill Hood & Sons for $200.
In April 2006, a single faux alligator suitcase in imperfect condition was sold by Auctions Neopolitan for $25.
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