Lilley Luggage, 1931
In a day when travel is quick and airlines discourage us from checking bags with us, it takes a real mental effort to consider travel preparation from long ago. When crossing the country or the ocean took days or weeks by train or by boat, you really had to take packing seriously – and you really had to pack a lot.
These top-of-the-line wardrobe trunks (zoom in to see the depression-era pricing) were huge. You could stick a body in there! (Which sometimes happened in Hollywood movies of the era). More practically, they came with six(!) drawers, space for two hats, a shoebox, and an ironing board among your clothes. Probably not something that would pass the weight limits of today’s airlines, but they had porters who would handle your luggage for you. Like I said, travel was different back then.
Luggage was hardly the Lilley Company’s main line. They were best known for — of all things — swords and uniforms, the ceremonial type worn by Masons and similar fraternal organizations. The firm existed from 1866 to 1853, and at one time was one of the biggest employers in Columbus Ohio.
It seems their suitcase business started as a sideline. They needed cases for transporting the elaborate fraternal hats, swords, and costumes. This line grew to become a successful business in it’s own right.