Everything You've Always Wanted To Know About Suitcases
September 28, 2017 1:36pm CST
English speaking people have coffers, Germans have Koffer. Although both words are derived from the Latin word cophinus = basket, they don’t mean the same. According to the dictionary a coffer is a box or chest, especially one for valuables. The German Koffer is a suitcase. Young readers may not know that there was life before suitcases on wheels were invented. They may think that wheels have always been an integral part of a suitcase. In fact they may not use the word suitcase at all but only talk of trolleys. My father lived in Brazil for many years in the first half of the last century. From him I inherited a trunk which was used for voyages then. Together with the trunk came two suitcases, a big and heavy one which I couldn’t lift when it was full and a smaller one which I could carry for some metres. We used to take them to the train station on a small hay-cart. I can’t remember ever to have taken a taxi then (yes, I *am* old!) I took the two suitcases with me when I left home to study in another town. Those were the days when the trains had extra luggage waggons and one could find porters on the platforms. These suitcases were made of impregnated cardboard and had metal locks. They usually didn’t look new for long but became shabby rather quickly. One could sit on the cardboard suitcases while waiting, a very important asset. When the time had come for my suitcases to go to suitcase heaven, I didn’t buy a hardshell specimen, for example a Samsonite, which can even stand the weight of an elephant as you may know from an ad (not that I weigh as much as an elephant!) I regret that I can’t sit on a soft suitcase but the times of the porters with their trolleys on the platforms of train stations and in airports are gone. I have to think of the weight I can carry myself. I think it’s absurd to buy a hardshell suitcase weighing as much when it’s empty as my soft suitcase when it’s full. I always look pityingly at the poor misguided creatures trying to lift their full hardshell suitcases off the conveyor belts in airports! “But they last forever!”, I hear the ones among you crying who’ve also fallen for the ads. I’ve found a site on the net on which travellers exchange their horror stories about damaged hardshell suitcases. Weight apart, I’m not attracted by a suitcase that lasts forever. Why should it? I had a small, no name, cheap, soft suitcase with wheels for about fifteen years. When the zipper gave up the ghost, I thanked it for its faithful service, threw it into the bin and bought a new one with even better wheels because technology had developed in the meantime. Ah, the wheels! I wouldn’t want to do without them now that I know them. The first time I saw a suitcase with integrated wheels was in the early seventies when I visited a fair displaying achievements and products from the People’s Republic of China. Up to the research for this review I had always believed that the Chinese had invented the trolley-type suitcase, now I know that I had seen an early example of the Chinese art of plagiarising. If I can believe the Samsonite peeps, it was this firm that revolutionised the suitcase market in the early 1979s with the invention of a suitcase on wheels. --- photo: Hardware Profile Plus 4 Rollen Trolley M Profile Applegreen
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@maluse When my family went to live in the colonies in 1964 our belongings were transported by sea in tea chests, large ply-wood boxes originally used for the transportation of tea from Ceylon to Britain. All our clothes smelled of tea leaves.
• United States
It seems that every girl going away to college in the fall received Samsonite luggage as a graduation gift way back when. It was heavy stuff. Mine lasted and then eventually I donated them to charity because I had suitcases with wheels!!
Thanks for the compliment. I began my online writing career on a site for product reviews. There I learnt how to write posts. The site has closed shop (like so many others and not my fault). I've got some posts left from there. Would you like to read a profound analysis of an egg slicer?
• Riga, Latvia
I too prefer lightweight suitcases. I have a soft suitcase on wheels. Since I am not traveling anywhere I make use of this suitcase when I have to purchase items that will be heavy to carry. I bring along the suitcase put in all my groceries and come home with no problems.
• South Africa
I have special Tapestry suitcases from Brugge which i personally selected and I really dont care what they weigh because I never over pack. However, on arrive back in SA I weighed each suitcase with relation to the hard outher shell ones my hubby had (like in your picture) and they were not even 1gram heavier. So to me luggage is luggage as long as MY Lugguage looks good with me! (called the vintage Jaguar Floral) My handbag is freying on the straps so I need to visit Belgium again to get an authentic one to match my travel bags. HA HA HA
• United Kingdom
I do have a variety of suitcases some are hard shell but quite lightweight and others reasonably cheap and cheerful. When you consider how they get bashed about at the airport they take some incredible beatings, droppings and throwing about. Wheels have certainly made it much easier to lug around cases and I love the ones with four wheels. Oh lord I remember lugging cases around when there were no wheels on them. I remember taking three massive suitcases with me on one trip. 2 and three quarters filled with stuff for other people I managed to put one suitcase into another and my clothing only took up a quarter of the other! One time a suitcase did not go on the plane at Istanbul. It was delivered two days later by taxi to my house. Another time in Singapore delivered to my hotel about four hours after we arrived. It was so liberating not having to carry it around!