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The research and restoration project of the luggage (steamer trunk) used by 

Mrs. and Prof. George Lansing Raymond (of Princeton University) 

during their travel in Europe in the years 1890 and 1891.

(en français : cliquez ici)


Pictured above and below, the trunk in the state it was received, in 2007 (and without handles, nor locks - see the two apertures in the front pane). At that moment no other trunk of this manufacturer, nor of this type of folding mechanism, could be located around the world. Then, in 2012, on having seen the BelMal website, two persons indicated they also have a Folding: one in the USA, and the other one in Australia. That makes three Folding known to this day; another one had been claimed to exist but remains undocumented.


The manufacturer, the Folding Trunk Company of New York (brass tag inside the trunk), was the only US-exhibitor of travel equipment at the 1899 World Fair in Paris ('Exposition Universelle de Paris'), known for the inauguration of the Eiffel tower. A form of critique was expressed by the Fair's experts, regarding the mechanical concept and the practicality of this trunk. The space needed to unfold it is twice that of the closed trunk, and lifting the lid requires a considerable effort  when the trays are filled with clothes and other objects.   


This trunk was owned and used by Prof. George L. Raymond's wife ("Mrs. G.L.R. Princeton NJ" printed on the sides of the trunk). The couple toured Europe in 1890-189, during Prof. Raymond's sabbatical year. 


The trunk was found in Belgium in 2007. It had remained in the attic of a house since the 1950s. A this moment there is no other information of the trunk's 'whereabouts' during the preceding six decades. It is not clear why the trunk ended its travels in Belgium, nor whether it had been taken eastwards in Europe, but eventually it was not taken along on the westbound cross-Atlantic steamer-ship the Raymonds boarded returning home. 


During the restoration,  when the canvas of the lid's inner side was removed, a major flaw was discovered in the wood (pine). It certainly caused the straps of the upper handle to break loose quite rapidly, presumably within a short amount of time after the trunk's initial use.


Prof. G.L. Raymond (1839-1929) was a renowned professor of art, aesthetics, and oratory, and taught mainly at Princeton University, and at George Washington University. He wrote a series of books about his fields of expertise. He also wrote poetry, A Life In Song being a most famous collection of his verses. 



A preview of the restored exterior of the trunk (in 2008). The original canvas has been retained, there is a new colour pigmentation of the textile, and re-proofing by means of a wax compound. Slats are in hickory, but with a reddish-brown colouring. The refitting of the interior's canvas had not yet been undertaken.  


A more extensive study about G.L. Raymond, especially with regard to aesthetics, and about  this particular piece of travel equipment,  will be released soon. Key factors, such as the owner's profession; the trunk itself; the find-location; and the restorer's background, were at the very basis of  the start of the BelMal museum collection in 2007. 


Exhibit location of this trunk: BelMal Archive, Belgium. This trunk is not for sale.


Another trunk in the collection, is the 1875 Louis Vuitton dome (camelback) trunk.





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