Question about some really old leather Gladstone (?) bags

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by tjchung, Oct 2, 2009.

  1. tjchung

    tjchung Active Member

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    Hello, I'm new here and I joined because I'm curious about some old leather bags that recently came into my posession. I asked around, and someone told me that if anybody could help me with vintage bags and stuff, it was the people on this forum.

    There are 4 bags. 2 are really really big and heavy, with leather straps and brass fastenings. Someone told me they might be called Gladstone bags. 1 is a smaller version of the larger 2, but doesn't have any leather straps. The 4th looks like a messenger bag, except its made of the same thick leather as the others, and has a metal frame inside the opening that makes it open like an old fashioned coin purse.

    I've included some pics. You can see the heavy brown leather and straps of the 2 big bags. They're REALLY heavy, I'd say at least 10 lbs each. The leather is thick and brown, smells nice but is rough and wrinkly, even cracking in some places where it folds.

    These are pics of the the larger of the 2 big bags. The dimensions are about 26 inches wide, 16 deep and 15 high. This is when the bag is empty. I'm sure that if its filled to the brim, the height could be a few inches taller. The lining seems to be checkered cotton, linen or some sort of natural fabric but its dark, a little stained and loose from the outer shell. The previous owner says he put on some "Peccards Antique Leather Dressing", which explains that the leather is a little waxy and sticky in some places. I hope it doesn't do any harm. You can't see it in the pictures but there are the letters "TM" embosssed in black in the center of one side panel.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Here are some pics of the smaller of the 2 big bags. The leather is a little smoother than the larger one, and is more supple around the folds. Dimensions are about 24 inches wide, 16 deep and 15 high. The lining is dark beige, and is the same natural fabric as the first one except is in better condition and is attached to the outer shell. Theres no leather treatment on this bag and it actually feels a lot smoother than the larger one. There is a small paper label that looks like some kind of travel sticker. But its glued on and I don't want to try and peel it off as the glude residue might look unsightly.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Here are some pics of the smaller bag. As you can see, its pretty much a miniature of the 2 larger bags, except that it doesn't have straps and the metal hardware isn't brass but might be cast metal or tin, maybe nickel. Not too sure. Dimensions are about 16 inches long, 12 deep and 10 high. The lining is the same natural fabric in dark beige. Overall condition is pretty good, almost good enough to take on a short trip, although I'm afraid it might hurt the leather or reduce the value.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    The last pic is of the messenger bag. Its almost the same leather as the other 3 bags, which leads me to believe its from the same time period. The leather is in really good shape aside from a stain on the back side of the bag thats not visible from the front. There's no fabric lining but leather. Maybe its the inner side of the outer leather shell? If you flip up the outer flap, you can see the same "push type" clasp as the 3rd bag, and the the bag opens like an old coin purse, with a hinged frame inside that is really similar to the frames of the first 3 bags.

    [​IMG]


    In all 4 bags, the leather is really thick and strong. In the case of the larger 2 bags, the size of the side panels are really large yet the makers used a single piece of leather, which even I know is rare these days. If you look closely at the leather, there are these minute grooves that feel wonderful. I don't know if these are the natural wrinkles of the hide, or if they are some kind of embossing.

    Anyway, to close a long first post I'd like to end by asking if anybody here can tell me anything about them, where they were made, who made them, if they are worth anything today, whether or not it would be adviseable to use them, display them, store them, sell them, repair them or junk them, etc.

    Many thanks in advance.
     
  2. JayJay

    JayJay Senior member

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    Nice bags. I'd condition the leather and use them. They would work well as overnight bags.
     
  3. tjchung

    tjchung Active Member

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    Thanks for the reply, Jayjay.

    So you think it would be OK to use these bags once in a while? I don't want to do anything to them that might hurt the leather or ruin their value. I'm already using the messenger bag for casual day use, and getting a lot of compliments. I think I'll use the smallest of the 3 gladstone bags on a short upcoming trip.

    As for the 2 big ones, I really can't imagine using them on any trips. One, they are so incredibly heavy even when empty and my hands cramped when I was carrying them home. Two, they're so big that I doubt they'd ever be allowed inside the cabin of a plane. And I don't even want to imagine what would happen to them in the luggage carrousels of checked baggage. So if I ever do use them, it'll have to be on a train or car trip.

    But can anybody tell me anything about them? I googled Gladstone, and found out that its the name of a British Foreign Minister who traveled a lot with bags like these. So I assume they're English made. I also have a friend who has an antique French WW1 leather ammunition bag with EXACTLY the same type and color of leather and brass fittings, so I assume these bags are around the WWI to pre-WW2 era. But as far as their value, their rarity, etc I have no idea. I even tried finding Gladstone bag in ebay, but found only smaller antique briefcases, not the big bags I have.

    So any info at all would be appreciated by anybody who reads this thread.
     
  4. JayJay

    JayJay Senior member

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    Yes, I'd use them after conditioning them a bit.

    I don't know anything about Gladstones, but I have seen them in antique shops, even in alligator skin.
     
  5. chobochobo

    chobochobo Rubber Chicken Dubiously Honored Moderator

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    The design is called a Gladstone bag, and is more commonly called a doctor's bag, presumably because they were often used by physicians. The design itself has no inherent significance in terms of value. If you like them great, but don't view them as investments.
     
  6. JayJay

    JayJay Senior member

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    ^^^ I've seen Gladstones from the early 1900's and as you mention, they're often referred to as doctor's bags. I've seen great vintage examples in excellent condition ready for use.
     
  7. tjchung

    tjchung Active Member

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    Thanks. I will definately use the small Gladstone and the messenger bag around town. The other 2 bigger ones, well they're too big and heavy to carry around. But they look great just displayed in my home.
     
  8. crazyquik

    crazyquik Senior member

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    As you undoubtedly know, they are useful in that you can open them up and they don't fall over (unlike a flap-over brief case).
     
  9. tjchung

    tjchung Active Member

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    As you undoubtedly know, they are useful in that you can open them up and they don't fall over (unlike a flap-over brief case).

    Yep, that is a big plus. Also, they don't sag and collapse around themselves like the common nylon tote or weekend bag. Thanks for all the good info.
     
  10. zenzie

    zenzie New Member

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    Hi There,

    These are really wonderful bags. I noticed you mentioned you won't be using the two larger ones. Would you consider selling one of them - if you still have them?

    I'd be more interested in one of the ones with straps...I've looked all over and can't seem to find one =(.

    Just thought I'd ask. Thanks in advance!
     
  11. lawyerdad

    lawyerdad Senior member

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    Hi There,

    These are really wonderful bags. I noticed you mentioned you won't be using the two larger ones. Would you consider selling one of them - if you still have them?

    I'd be more interested in one of the ones with straps...I've looked all over and can't seem to find one =(.

    Just thought I'd ask. Thanks in advance!


    FYI, they're regularly available on Ebay. Prices vary considerably, based primarily on condition. And shipping generally isn't cheap, because as the OP notes, they're heavy.
     
  12. tjchung

    tjchung Active Member

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    Hi There,

    These are really wonderful bags. I noticed you mentioned you won't be using the two larger ones. Would you consider selling one of them - if you still have them?

    I'd be more interested in one of the ones with straps...I've looked all over and can't seem to find one =(.

    Just thought I'd ask. Thanks in advance!


    Sorry for the late reply, and sorry but they're not for sale at the moment.
     
  13. videocrew

    videocrew Senior member

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  14. TimH

    TimH Senior member

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    Hello, I'm new here and I joined because I'm curious about some old leather bags that recently came into my posession. I asked around, and someone told me that if anybody could help me with vintage bags and stuff, it was the people on this forum.

    There are 4 bags. 2 are really really big and heavy, with leather straps and brass fastenings. Someone told me they might be called Gladstone bags. 1 is a smaller version of the larger 2, but doesn't have any leather straps. The 4th looks like a messenger bag, except its made of the same thick leather as the others, and has a metal frame inside the opening that makes it open like an old fashioned coin purse.

    I've included some pics. You can see the heavy brown leather and straps of the 2 big bags. They're REALLY heavy, I'd say at least 10 lbs each. The leather is thick and brown, smells nice but is rough and wrinkly, even cracking in some places where it folds.

    These are pics of the the larger of the 2 big bags. The dimensions are about 26 inches wide, 16 deep and 15 high. This is when the bag is empty. I'm sure that if its filled to the brim, the height could be a few inches taller. The lining seems to be checkered cotton, linen or some sort of natural fabric but its dark, a little stained and loose from the outer shell. The previous owner says he put on some "Peccards Antique Leather Dressing", which explains that the leather is a little waxy and sticky in some places. I hope it doesn't do any harm. You can't see it in the pictures but there are the letters "TM" embosssed in black in the center of one side panel.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Here are some pics of the smaller of the 2 big bags. The leather is a little smoother than the larger one, and is more supple around the folds. Dimensions are about 24 inches wide, 16 deep and 15 high. The lining is dark beige, and is the same natural fabric as the first one except is in better condition and is attached to the outer shell. Theres no leather treatment on this bag and it actually feels a lot smoother than the larger one. There is a small paper label that looks like some kind of travel sticker. But its glued on and I don't want to try and peel it off as the glude residue might look unsightly.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Here are some pics of the smaller bag. As you can see, its pretty much a miniature of the 2 larger bags, except that it doesn't have straps and the metal hardware isn't brass but might be cast metal or tin, maybe nickel. Not too sure. Dimensions are about 16 inches long, 12 deep and 10 high. The lining is the same natural fabric in dark beige. Overall condition is pretty good, almost good enough to take on a short trip, although I'm afraid it might hurt the leather or reduce the value.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    The last pic is of the messenger bag. Its almost the same leather as the other 3 bags, which leads me to believe its from the same time period. The leather is in really good shape aside from a stain on the back side of the bag thats not visible from the front. There's no fabric lining but leather. Maybe its the inner side of the outer leather shell? If you flip up the outer flap, you can see the same "push type" clasp as the 3rd bag, and the the bag opens like an old coin purse, with a hinged frame inside that is really similar to the frames of the first 3 bags.

    [​IMG]


    In all 4 bags, the leather is really thick and strong. In the case of the larger 2 bags, the size of the side panels are really large yet the makers used a single piece of leather, which even I know is rare these days. If you look closely at the leather, there are these minute grooves that feel wonderful. I don't know if these are the natural wrinkles of the hide, or if they are some kind of embossing.

    Anyway, to close a long first post I'd like to end by asking if anybody here can tell me anything about them, where they were made, who made them, if they are worth anything today, whether or not it would be adviseable to use them, display them, store them, sell them, repair them or junk them, etc.

    Many thanks in advance.


    These bags are wondeful pieces and should you be able to find anyone to make them today, the cost would make your eyes water. I made a couple some years ago and always knew this frame style as a Vanderbilt as opposed to a Gladstone which has a clam like action. I still have frames for each of them but feel reluctant to make any more until I know more frames can be sourced. They look to be in decent condition so I would seriously advise talking to a vintage luggage expert such as Tim or Julian of Bentleys in Walpole Street, London before doing anything with them.

    Hope this is of some use as these really need to be preserved. Tim
     
  15. tjchung

    tjchung Active Member

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    These bags are wondeful pieces and should you be able to find anyone to make them today, the cost would make your eyes water. I made a couple some years ago and always knew this frame style as a Vanderbilt as opposed to a Gladstone which has a clam like action. I still have frames for each of them but feel reluctant to make any more until I know more frames can be sourced. They look to be in decent condition so I would seriously advise talking to a vintage luggage expert such as Tim or Julian of Bentleys in Walpole Street, London before doing anything with them.

    Hope this is of some use as these really need to be preserved. Tim


    Thanks. Unfortunately I live in the USA and it would be impossible for me to take these bags (especially the larger 2) to England, unless I packed them in wooden crates and shipped them as oversized luggage. Would you happen to know anybody in the east coast, near New York City who could take a look at them?

    And I agree about the cost of making them now. I've seen some modern examples by Swaine Adeney and the price was unbelieveable. But the modern leather just doesn't have the charm, patina and luxuriant thickness that the old leather does.
     

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