20 November 2008

Gladstone Bag

Lately, with the dearth of good television shows (I miss you Mad Men!), we’ve been watching tons of movies. It seems that in every old movie, at some point, there is one particular prop that makes an appearance. It’s the holy grail of flea markets and antique store, a doctor style Gladstone bag. Barbara Stanwyck had one in You Belong to Me There was another in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Baby’s daddy had one in Dirty Dancing. There was even one in Magnum Force for crying out loud!

I’ve had my eye out for one for ages but most of them seem to be located in the UK (they were named after William Ewart Gladstone, the four-times Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who was noted for the amount of traveling he did). I’ve seen a couple at antique stores around town but they were pretty much falling apart. I want one that’s seen the world but still has some life left in it. There’s something about those careworn bags that conjures a romantic vision of travel. No one says it better than J. Peterman (these always crack me up and make me think of Elaine and her urban sombrero):

Try looking in the attic first.
You don’t have one? Then it’s time maybe to go to the secret barn. Somewhere there is one.
And it’s filled with everything.
Look…there under that huge pile of saddles and hats…it seems to be the hood of a car. Oh no. It’s the Packard. It’s the 12-cylinder Packard convertible somebody (Emily?) once drove across the country. The doors are locked.
…but inside the car seems to be stuffed with old clocks, framed oil paintings, a leopard skin, books, boots, brass fishing reels, stamp albums…
You can’t take it all in. At the other end of the barn you notice a marble table, a beautiful slim-wheeled two-seat carriage, a stack of a dozen carved chairs, a leather trunk…it’s all too much at once…
You trip on something. What is it? A leather suitcase of some kind. You lift it by its handles. It has old European hotel stickers on it. You grab it and practically run…you’ll come back to the barn some other time…
In broad daylight you examine it. A beautiful, mellow old leather Gladstone. (That’s what they used to call them.) Rather defiantly and ruggedly old-fashioned looking. Strong enough to go down the Nile, across the Alps, through the Canal, over the oceans, but still small enough to carry aboard a plane. A thing like this would cost a fortune these days…


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11 comments:

Parapluie said...

I love them! Their color is so... rich! *sigh*

anja louise said...

Such awesome bags! I miss Mad Men too.

Pseudoangela said...

Hello. I live in the UK and I know a woman who has several old Gladstone bags in fairly good condition. If you would like one of them, please get in touch with me, and I'll see if it can be arranged :)

Sally Jane said...

pseudoangela: Thanks so much for your offer. That's very sweet of you. I'm trying to save right now but I'll keep it in mind. I'm just daydreaming right now!

Kirsten said...

If you're looking for a more suitcase style there this (http://cgi.ebay.com/Antique-Gladstone-Leather-Strap-Train-SuitCase-Bag-WOW_W0QQitemZ120333786396QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLuggage?hash=item120333786396&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1205|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318) on eBay. It's a steal right now!!! Ends tonight!

Eyeliah @ stylesymmetry.com said...

Such a cool look to add to any vintage outfit.

heather said...

how lovely! i was in Brighton a couple of weekends ago and saw quite a couple of these. . . Also for some reason i managed to spot quite a few in Amsterdam earlier this year! They remind me of old school doctors... those were the days... :)

Kvestelser said...

Wow, I actually have one of those! But we call them doctor's bags :) Are you gonna get one?

Sunset said...

$500! The leather seems so smooth and rich... gah, you find the best things.

VANESSA DATORRE and LEIRE URZAIZ said...

NIce blog, specially the pics!!

samaya ling said...

My partner collects and sells incredible luggage - some are on the website - to see the collection contact us!