Now that we are no longer expats, one way that I keep those travel memories alive is by collecting vintage luggage labels. They are easily framed and displayed throughout our house.
My husband and I happen to like the vibrant colors and retro-look that some of them have. Here’s a little bit about them, what we look out for and where we buy them.
Short History of Luggage Labels
Luggage labels are from what is considered the golden age of travel, roughly 1900–1950. Labels existed prior to that, but they didn’t have the same look or use.
They are actually stickers used to advertise the hotels. Hotel bellhops and other airline luggage handlers would apply these stickers to passenger trunks and suitcases.
Today, they are highly collectible, especially those designed by certain artists.
What We Look For
Though I really could go overboard with all of the designs, we typically buy:
- Airlines we’ve flown.
- Hotels we’ve stayed in.
- Hotels we’ve been to.
Luckily, a lot of hotels we’ve stayed at are rich with history and have been around long enough to have a vintage luggage label. The Raffles Hotel in Singapore has numerous vintage luggage labels, for example.
I kept my eye open for exactly the one I wanted and snapped it up the second I saw it for sale.
Where to Buy Vintage Luggage Labels
There are many vintage luggage label reproductions floating around the internet. If you are looking for the real thing, I would suggest you contact a dealer.
I did buy two labels on eBay from dealers with a lot of positive feedback. My favorite dealer is called Picture This (they used to have a shop where we lived in Hong Kong but are now operating from the United Kingdom).
They ship overseas if you see something in their catalog that you like. Their labels are in perfect condition and they have enough expertise to authenticate them.
The 1930s Peninsula Hotel label in the top photo is from there. I paid about $205 for it, but have paid less for others.
Displaying Luggage Labels
They look better in real life, seriously.
I have them in simple Pottery Barn frames, however, I just found out that their plexiglass still lets in some UV rays so I need to swap them out for higher quality frames. The simple black frames do allow the vibrant colors to pop.
It’s not a fancy idea, but looking at these labels make me happy and reminds me of our travels. You may want to consider collecting vintage luggage labels if you love to travel and enjoy filling your walls with memories.
We also buy authentic vintage travel posters and have them hung throughout the house.