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Research and restoration project: 1875 Louis Vuitton LV trunk

















Note: this page presents a summary of the study project through the BelMal Archive. 


As pictured above, the trunk in the state it was received, awaiting restoration (the brass rivets had already been polished). Worthy of note, the colour of the trunk's canvas. It's light green, not  "Gris Trianon" nor the striped beige-and-red canvas launched in 1873. This dome-shaped trunk, sold by LV in 1875, is a rare one. Of the LV trunks that have have a round or dual-curved lid (also called dome, barrel, or camelback lid) there is only a  limited number in existence.  that have a dual-curved lid (also called dome, barrel, or camelback lid). In the 1870s most of the trunsk made by the Louis Vuitton house had flat lids. This trunk may perhaps have been manufactured on special commission, at a time when dome trunks were still very popular in the USA and in Europe, and that the buyer preferred such a shape and canvas colour. The type of wood, the shape and size of the slats and of the iron cladding, and the absence of LV-embossed brass nails on the slats and corners of this trunk, are in fact reminiscent of earlier Louis Vuitton trunk-designs, of the 1860s.


This 1875 LV trunk is unusually large: 110 x 60 x 70 centimetres (44 x 24 x 28 inches) 


It has a "Louis Vuitton Emballeur" label on the inner side of the lid, listing the "1 Rue Scribe" address, and encircled by "Ci-devant Rue Neuve des Capucines, 3" and "Ancienne Sellerie du Jockey-Club". There is no serial number, although those are found on virtually all of the LV trunks. This trunk predates the year 1878 in which Louis Vuitton introduced the sequential ('perpetual') numbering of trunks and other travel objects made by the house. At Belmal, and from artisan-historical and design-progress viewpoints, the LV trunks that were made between 1854 (the year Louis Vuitton established his company) and approx. 1875 are deemed to be the most interesting ones. The year 1878 is also that of the Exposition Universelle de Paris. The he Louis Vuitton house had taken part at the 1867 one, and the universal exhibitions in 1889 and 1900. 


The first owner of this trunk was an American financier from New York (Mr. N. C. - full name is known, but public disclosure withheld).  A short biography is available at Belmal, as well as details about the westbound transatlantic travel of Mr. and Mrs. N.C. (aboard the paddle steamer S/S British Queen, of Cunard Lines, from Le Havre to Liverpool; and then from Liverpool to New York, aboard the S/S Scythia). There is also information about the heirs (Mrs. J.D F., Ms. N.D. F.), and about the warehousing of the trunk during the second half of the 20th century.  




Provenance: acquired by BelMal from the last owner (in New York state).  The trunk's "21st century return trip" to Europe was, well, by cargo plane. Location of the trunk: Belmal Collection private museum, Ardennes, Belgium.  The restoration, in four phases, is nearing completion. The trunk is not for sale.



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