The purpose of different luggage sets is defined by all sorts of things – their size; the materials from which they are constructed; even the period in which they were made. Modern luggage sets, for example, are usually designed with the aeroplane in mind and run from large hold suitcases to small flight bags.
Historically, luggage had different ways to travel and different purposes. As a very general rule, the more items you had in the luggage set tie richer you were. A luggage set comprised of stacks of bespoke trunks, each one designed to fit specific items, was a mark that the traveller could afford not just the quality of the workmanship but could afford someone else to oversee the transport of his or her things.
The basic functions of luggage sets – protection and transport – have not changed. There are different types of item that may be required by a traveller – from toiletries and personal hygiene items through to full dinner suits – and in this respect the purpose of the bags a person uses is still the same as ever.
Hard edges allow larger suitcases to retain their shape, even when thrown about by baggage handlers and shoved into the hold of a giant aeroplane. Soft materials ensure that smaller items may be protected from moisture, or that the user of the luggage may pack it away at destination, using its softer qualities to roll or fold it into the appropriate part of a larger case.
This ability to collapse in on itself is one of the prime properties of a luggage set. In simple terms, the largest case in a set should fit all the other cases and bags inside it, like a Russian doll of baggage. By allowing this, luggage sets enable the traveller to take plenty of clothing with him or with her, but to use very little space in his or her hotel room or apartment when he or she reaches his or her destination.
The practice of luggage forwarding has grown in popularity in the last decade or so – ever since the attacks on the World Trade Center and their resulting hike in airport security. As such, luggage sets with more components may become common again, as they were in the early part of the 20th century.
In these early years, when steamer ships or trains often carried consignments of luggage for travellers who had already gone ahead to there destination, there was almost no theoretical limit to the upper size of luggage sets, As much luggage as a person had, they could send – and the only constraint on size was the dimensions of one’s wallet.
Modern luggage sets may, in certain fashionable examples, even mimic the look and feel of older sets. Steamer trunks are trendy once more, as are luggage sets made from materials more commonly associated with Victorian and Edwardian travel. The modern traveller, where he or she can afford it, is able to step out in much the same style as his or her great grandparents did.
Securing luggage is one concern that has never changed. Modern luggage sets are normally designed with inherent security in the form of a combination lock for each case. Key type locks seem to be less common, although they do still exist in the form.
Monica H is a travel writer. She has written several blogs on the subject of old and new luggage sets, comparing and contrasting the two.