Here's Jo, visiting my sons and daughter in law in Ottawa, and the other two members of the Cabbage Patch family. Actually, I see that's Charlie Too with a chick. Well, they're all in their 20s really.
Today I'm going to blog about baggage in times gone by. The idea came to me when I arrived at this house without my suitcase. No, the airline didn't lose it; someone left with it, leaving me with an almost-clone. As they were as keen as I was to have the right one all is now well. My suitcase ———>
But it got me thinking. Where does the word suitcase come from? It would seem clear it meant a case for a suit, but that'd be a pretty small case. Why not a clothes case? Or a travel case?
Then there are band boxes.
I first encountered band boxes in Heyer novels and they seemed exotic and exciting, as well as cumbersome when a heroine was trying to elope at night. So…. I went off to my favourite check point, Googlebooks, and put in the pub dates 1700 to 1820.
This modern, Chinese band box is tiny, but I wonder if ladies in the past had such pretty ones? Anyone know?
I hit on Swift and the duel in which the Duke of Hamilton died, but I'll keep that as it's relevant to the MIP, A Scandalous Countess. However, right after it,
we have an early parcel bomb! (1712)
"* The truth of the fact concerning the band-box sent to the lord treasurer, we are informed, is as followeth:—On Tuesday morning, the 4th instant, the penny-post man delivered a small parcel at the lord treasurer's house, directed to his lordship's porter, in which upon opening was found inclosed a band-box, directed to the lord treasurer. The box was carried up to my lord's bed-chamber, and delivered to his lordship, who, stretching up the lid as far as the packthread that tied it would give way, said, he. saw a pistol; whereupon a gentleman in the room desired the box might be given to him; he took it to the window, at some distance from my lord, and opened it, by cutting with a penknife the packthreads that fastened the lid. The first thing that appeared was the stock and lock of a pocket-pistol, lying across the middle of the band-box, and fastened at each end with two nails. On each side of the fire-lock were laid the middle pieces of two large ink-horns charged with powder and bait,, and touch holes bored at the butt-ends of them, to which were fastened two lint bags of gun-powder; and at the other end of the bags were two quills filled with wild-fire. These two artificial barrels were placed with the muzzles contraryways, and the quill of one of them directed to the pan of the pistol, as the other probably was though disorded by the carriage. how I came to have so much presence of mind, which is usually not my taleht; but so it pleased God, and I saved myself and him; for there was a bullet piece. A gentleman told me, " that if I had been killed, the whigs would have called it a judgment, because the barrels were of inkhorns, with which I had done them so much mischief."
That could form part of a plot, couldn't it? From the description of contents, I'd say it was about the size of a large shoe box.
I envision the same sort of box in this snippet of evidence from a crim con trial from 1771. "which letters this deponent sent to the said Miss Caroline Version, her ladyship's sister, in a band-box or parcel with millinery goods ;"
In a 1775 dictionary, we have "Band'box "A small light box to carry any fine and light parts of dress." That's clear, but I doubted people would use band boxes for travel luggage. I was wrong. It seems they were the preferred way to take light and delicate articles, and also a source of contention.
Traveling with band boxes.
The Annual review and history of literature 1806. We begin with an interesting description of a gentleman's entourage as he sets out on a hunting tour of Europe in
"The colonel's establishment in the present expedition wras not so magnificent as that which he took with him into the Highlands of Scotland ; the whole party consisting of imself; the ci-devant Mrs. T ,and Mr. Bryant, as secretary and draughtsman; with two valets, a game-keeper, and huntsman. He also took with him from Thornville Royal, twelve fox-hounds; but one of them was unfortunately lost at Brighton, previous to his embarkation for France.
For the easy conveyance of these, a carriage was built under his own direction, a description of which we shall lay before our readers in the words of the editor, hoping that it may afford an useful hint to such gentlemen as are in the habit of frequently travelling with their ladies.
" Colonel Thornton's equipage, which was purposely constructed, after his own plan, for this tour through. France, was remarkably commodious, and enabled him to transport a dozen dogs, in boxes upon springs,at the front and backof the carriage; whilst the interior of the vehicle contained a secret repository of guns and fishing-tackle. The dickie, on which the servant sat, was formed to carry two terriers, if necessary, and might be removed behind the carriage at pleasure. The imperial, also, might be put on before or behind, for the purpose of easing the post-chaise, if required, as a Iandaulet, by which the travellers were greeted with an uninterrupted wiew of the surrounding country. In addition to these conveniencies the colonel ordered a light circular box, which, being placed under the windows, so as not to derange the symmetrical appearance of the carriage,was designed to preclude those unpleasant bickerings which frequently arise in jouraics from the multiplicity of the ladies' band-boxes ; necessary indeed to the softer sex, but which generally prove very objectionable to gentlemen when travelling."
There follows an account of a duke who refused to allow his wife's bandboxes to travel in the coach with them.
In my wanderings through Googlebooks I came across a book that could prove useful.
The law of carriers, inn-keepers, warehousemen, and other depositories of goods for hire, 1815 This link should take you to the section about luggage, if you're curious.
Words for traveling containers.
I found references to portmantle/portmanteau, trunk, and valise. Baggage, however, only seems to be used in a military context.
I don't know how many of these reproductions are accurate, but they're lovely to look at. Heavy, though. My suitcase above is one of the new super-light ones. Not sure I'd want a wooden one!
Do you have anything to add on the subject of historical luggage?
What do you understand by the above terms? If you came across them in a book, would you have a clear picture of what was meant?
Next Wednesday I, and some of the other Wenches, will be at the RWA signing for literacy at he Marriott Marquis, Times Square, NY. If you're able to get there, we'd love to see you!
Next week, The Demon's Mistress will be out as an e-book. This is a novella set in my Rogues World. It originally appeared in the collection In Praise of Younger Men, and then as part of the omnibus, Three Heroes.
Wealthy widow, Maria Celestin, feels she's inherited a debt to the new Lord Vandeimen. When she's only just in time to stop the ex-officer from killing himself, she has to take him under her wing. But what's she supposed to do with this troubled young man, especially when he tries to seduce her, and she finds it very hard to resist?
It was a RITA finalist.
The picture is from the web site of the cover model, Stefan Andreas Swartze, but I couldn't get his new web site to work. This picture was used on the cover of Three Heroes. Apart from not being blond enough, I thought he was splendid for Van.
There's always more about my books on my web site.