How to Pack – A Carpet-bag and Travelling Reticule

Another in my drafts folder…..  From Eliza Leslie’s House Book, (Philadelphia, 1844)

CARPET BAGS – The best carpet-bags are those that are made with large gores at the sides, as they hold much more that when of two straight pieces only . It is well to have the owner’s name engraved on the lock. Articles of dress that cannot be compressed into a small compass, should not be put into a lady’s carpet bag, which should hold the flannel, linen, stockings, night-clothes, shawl, shoes, &c., that she may be likely to want during her journey; those that she will require the first night to be placed at the top, where also she should have a bag containing her comb, hair-brush, &c. For want of a bag, these things may be pinned up tightly in a towel; and she may do the same with her shoes if she has no shoe-bag.

A TRAVELLING RETICULE – A reticule for traveling may be so made, as to contain many useful articles. Get (for instance) three quarters of a yard of the thickest and best colored India silk, such as called senshaw. Divide it into two pieces, about a quarter and a half a quarter in each, but the outer piece a little deeper than the inner. Then lay them together so as to be double, and divide them into four compartments, by making three downward rows of stitching or running: when you have sewed up the side edges of the bag, you will have four divisions. Leave sufficient at the top of the inner lining for a hem; and the outside must rise a little beyond the inside and be hemmed down so as to form a case, to be drawn with ribbons, of broad silk braid. Gather the bottom of the bag, and draw it up as close as possible, so as to finish it with a tassel, or a bow of ribbon at the gathering place. This bag will be found very useful in travelling; as in the different divisions, you may carry a comb, hair-brush, tooth-brush, smelling-bottle, a cake of soup, purse, needle-book, keys, &c., so arranged, as not to interfere with each other inconveniently; leaving the space in the middle of the bag for your handkerchief, which you can take out without bringing the other things along with it. These large reticules will be found less troublesome to carry, and better in every respect than a travelling hand-basket.


Published in: on July 9, 2013 at 12:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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How to Pack – A Trunk

I found this buried in my drafts folder….. From Eliza Leslie’s House Book, (Philadelphia, 1844)

To Fold a Dress for Packing – spread the dress, right side out, on a bed; and, taking it by the hem, make the bottom exactly even all round. Next, double the skirt lengthways in half, then fold it lengthways in four, turn up crossways about one-third of the folded lower part of the skirt; then give the remainder of the skirt a fold backwards, terminating at the gathers at the waist. Next, turn the body backwards, with the front uppermost, and the back resting on the folded skirt beneath. Lastly, spread out the sleeves; vie each of them a fold forward at the shoulders, and a fold backward at the elbows, and lay them across each other evenly on the fore-body.

Fold the pelerine right-side out. First, double it in half, beginning down the middle of the back. Next, give the doubled pelerine a fold backwards, then a fold forwards, and then another fold so as to leave the corners uppermost.

A belt-ribbon, for packing, should be rolled on a block, and fastened with two pins.

A lady’s travelling dress should be made to fasten at the side or in front, pelisse-fashion; that, during her journey, she may be able to dress herself without assistance.

It may be well to have a camphor-bag sewed to each of her night-gowns, that she may be less liable to attacks from insects when sleeping in such beds as are frequently met with in travelling.

To Pack a Large Trunk – Have all the things laid out ready, the light things divided from the heavy ones; and keep at hand a quire of soft wrapping paper. Spread a clean thick towel over the bottom of the trunk, and place on it the hard flat things, such as portfolios, music-books, a writing desk, boxes, books for reading, &c,; taking care to fit them well together, so as to be even at the top; and filling up the crevices with small articles that will not be injured by compressment, each of them, however, wrapped in paper, to prevent their scraping of defacing the other things. Never use newspaper for packing, as the printing ink will not fail to rub off and soil whatever it touches. You may stick in a pair of shoes here and there, each laid together as flat as possible, and tied round with their own strings. Some persons have shoe bags made of flannel or cloth, and stitched into compartments, each division containing a pair of shoes. Over the layer of hard flat things in the bottom of the trunk, spread a towel; and on this lay your flannels, linen, &c., filling up the interstices with stockings and gloves. Then cover them with another towel, and put your dresses, the muslin ones uppermost; filling in the corners with pocket handkerchiefs. On the top of your dresses lay your pelerines, collars, and caps, (if you have no other way of carrying them,) &c., finishing with a thin towel over the whole.

No trunk should be packed so full as to strain the hinges. If your trunk has a false top, you can fill that with any articles that may be rolled up tightly. Shoes should on no account be packed without covers, as the colour (particularly, if black)will rub off, and disfigure any white things that may be near them. Avoid putting any eatable articles in a trunk of box that contains things which cannot be washed, as they may be much injured by grease or stains. On no consideration, carry ink, even though locked up in a writing desk. You can always at the place which you are going, buy yourself six cent worth of ink in a small square bottle, which will also serve for an inkstand. It is well, however, to take with you a few sheets of good writing paper folded in the form of letters, each with a wafer stuck on one edge, to be ready, in case you have occasion to write before you reach your journey’s end, or immediately after. It is well to have read tapes nailed across the inside of the lid of your trunk, for the purpose of slipping letters and papers between them.

There are traveling trunks with a sort of movable tray fitting in near the top. This tray can be lifted in and out, and is for the purpose of containing pelerines, collars, scarfs, ribbons, laces, &c. Some very large trunks have a partition at one end, to hold a bonnet or other millinery.

It is best, however, to have a proper bonnet-box, either of painted wood or leather. To keep the bonnet steady, sew to it in convenient places under the trimming, pieces of tape, the other ends of which should be secured with tack-nails to the floor and sides of the box. In the corners, you may lay a few caps, &c., as light as possible.

Leather trunks generally have brass plates on which is engraved the name of the owner. It is now very customary to have the name painted on both ends of the trunk, and also on the bonnet boxes. Besides which, if you are travelling with several articles of baggage, it is well to have them all designated by a piece of red tape or something of the sort tied round the handles of each. A lady, before setting out on a journey, should be provided with a card or paper, on which she has written a list and description of her trunk, box, carpet-bag, &c. Previous to the hour before starting, she should give this list to the gentleman under whose escort she is to travel and it will save him much trouble in finding out and taking care of her baggage.

The best paper for wrapping light articles that are to be packed in trunks, is the thin, soft sheets of light blue, buff, gray, and other colours, that are retailed at six cents per quire. It is well to keep a supply of it always in the house.

For heavier articles, (books, &c.,) the nankeen paper will be preferable to any other, as it is both smooth and strong.

In putting a paper parcel to go any distance over twenty miles, it is better to secure it only with sealing-wax, (putting always a wafer under the seal,) than to tie it round with twine, as in the course of transportation, the twine is very apt to rub and cut through the paper.

When putting up a newspaper or any other printed sheet to go by mail, always leave the cover open at one end.

“Where’s My Trunk?” part 2

And so it really was. At the head of the pier at Newport, there is a  shed with seats within where people wait for the ferry-boats;and there, perdu beneath a form, lay the enchanted trunk, having been so disposed, in the bustle of unloading,  by means which nobody could pretend to understand. The guard, with a half frightened look approached the awful object, and soon placed it with other things on board the ferry boat.

On our landing at Dundee pier, the proprietor of the trunk saw so well after it himself, tat it was evident no accident was for this time to be expected. However, it appeared that this was only a lull to our attention. The tall gentleman was to go on to Aberdeen by a coach then just about to start from Merchant’s Inn; while I, for my part, was to proceed by another coach which was about to proceed from the same place to Perth. A great bustle took place in the narrow street at the inn door, and some of my late fellow travelers were getting into the one coach, and some into the other. The Aberdeen coach was soonest prepared to start, and just as the guard cried ‘all’s right,’ the long figure devolved from the window, and said, in an anxious tone of a voice –

“Guard, have you got my trunk?”

“Your trunk, sir!” cried the man; “what like is your trunk? – we have nothing here but bags and baskets.”

“Heaven preserve me!” exclaimed the unfortunate gentleman, and burst out of the coach.

It immediately appeared that the trunk had been deposited by mistake in the Perth, instead of the Aberdeen coach; and unless the owner had spoken, it would have been, in less than an hour, half way up the Carse of Gourie. A transfer was immediately made, to the no small amusement of myself and one or two other persons in both coaches who had witnesses its previous misadventures on the road through Fife. Seeing a friend on the Aberdeen vehicle, I took an opportunity of privately requesting that he would, on arriving at his destination, send me an account by post of all further mistakes and dangers which were to befall the trunk in the course of the journey. To this he agreed, and, about a week after, I received the following letter:

“Dear ——,

“All went well with myself, my fellow-travellers and the Trunk, till we got a few miles on this side of Stonehaven, when just as we were passing one of the boggiest parts of that boggy road, an unfortunate lurch threw us over upon one side, and the exterior passengers, along with several heavy articles of luggage, were all projected several yards off into the morass. As the place was rather soft, nobody was much hurt; but, after everything had again been put to rights, the tall man put some two thirds of himself through the coach window, in his usual manner, and asked the guard if he was sure his trunk was safe in the boot.

““Oh, Lord, sir!” cried the guard, as if a desperate idea had at that moment rushed into his mind, “the trunk was on the top. Has nobody seen it laying about any where?”

““If it be a trunk ye’re looking after,” cried a rustic, very coolly, “I saw it sink into that wellee a quarter of an hour sync.”

““Good God!” exclaimed the distracted owner, “my trunk is gone for ever. Oh my poor dear trunk! – where is the place – show me where it disappeared.”

“The place being pointed out, he rushed madly up to it, and seemed as if he would have plunged into the watery profound to search for his lost property, or die in the attempt. Being informed that the bogs in this part of the country were perfectly bottomless, he soon saw how vain every endeavour of that kind would be; and so he was with difficulty induced to resume his place in the coach, loudly threatening, however, to make the proprietors of the vehicle pay sweetly for his loss.

“What was in the trunk. I have not been able to learn. Perhaps the title deeds of an estate were among the contents; perhaps it was only filled with bricks and rags, in order to impose upon the innkeepers. In all likelihood, the mysterious object is still descending and descending, down the boundless abyss, in which its contents will probably be revealed till a great many things of more importance and equal mystery are made plain.”

Published in: on March 9, 2013 at 8:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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“Where’s My Trunk?”

How many of us have experienced lost or mis-directed luggage? I certainly have. Here is a fun story of a mysterious black trunk traveling by coach and steam ferry, which saw mishap upon mishap…..

“Where’s My Trunk?” The Monthly Traveller, or, Spirit of the Periodical Press. Badger & Porter, Boston: 1833.
It is well know in Scotland that the road from Edinburgh to Dundee, only forty-three miles in extent, is rendered tedious and troublesome by the interposition of two arms of the sea, namely, the Firths of Forth and Tay, one of which is seven, and the other three miles across. Several rapid and well conducted stage coaches travel upon this road; but, from the frequent loading and unloading at the ferries, there is not only considerable delay to the traveler, but also rather more than the usual risk of damage and loss to their luggage. On one occasion it happened that the common chances against the safety of a traveller’s integuments were multiplied in a mysterious, but most amusing manner – as the following little narrative will show: –
The gentleman in question was an inside passenger – a very tall man, which was so much the worse for him in that situation – and it appeared that his whole baggage consisted of a single black trunk – one of medium size, and now way remarkable in appearance. On our leaving Edinburgh, this trunk had been deposited in the boot of the coach, amidst a great variety of other trunks, bundles, and carpet bags, belonging to the rest of the passengers.
Having arrived at Newhaven, the luggage was brought forth from the coach, and disposed upon a barrow, in order that it might be taken down to the steam boat which was to convey us across. – Just as the barrow was moving off, the tall gentleman said –
“Guard, have you got my trunk?”
“Oh, yes, sir,” answered the guard; “you may be sure it’s there.”
“Not so sure of that,” quoth the tall gentleman; “whereabouts is it?”
The guard poked into the barrow, and looked in vain among the numberless articles for the trunk. At length, after he had noozled about for two or three minutes through all the holes and corners of the mass of integuments, he drew out his head, like a terrier tired of earthing a badger, and seemed a little nonplused.
“Why, here it is in the boot!” exclaimed the passenger, “snug at the bottom, where it might have remained, I suppose, for you, till safely returned to the coach yard, in Edinburgh.”
The guard made an awkward apology, put the trunk upon the barrow, and away we all went to the steam boat.
Nothing further occurred till we were all standing beside the coach at Pettycur, ready to proceed on the principal terraqueous part of our journey through Fife.
Every thing seemed to have been stowed into the coach, and most of the passengers had taken their proper places, when the tall gentleman cried out –
“Guard, where is my trunk?”
“In the boot, sir,” answered the guard; “you may depend upon that.”
“I have not seen it put in,” said the passenger, “and I don’t believe it is there.”
“Oh, sir,” said the guard, quite distressed, “there can surely be no doubt about the trunk now.”
“There! I declare – there!” cried the owner of the missing property; “my trunk is still lying down yonder upon the sands. Don’t you see it? The sea, I declare, is just about reaching it. What a careless set of porters! I protest I was never so treated on any journey before.”
The trunk was instantly rescued from it somewhat perilous situation, and, all having been at length put to rights, we went on our way to Cupar.
Here the coach stopped a few minutes at the inn, and there is generally a particular discharge of passengers. As some individuals, on the present occasion, had to leave the coach, there was a slight discomposure of the luggage, and various trunks and bundles were presently seen departing on the backs of porters, after the gentlemen to whom they belonged. After all seemed to have been again put to rights, the tall gentleman made his wonted inquiry respecting his trunk.
“The trunk, sir,” said the guard, rather pettishly, “is in the boot.”
“Not a bit of it,” said its owner; who in the meantime had been peering about. “There it lies in the lobby of the inn!”
The guard now began to think that this trunk was in some way bewitched, and possessed a power, unenjoyed by other earthly trunks, of removing itself or staying behind, according to its own good pleasure.
“The Lord have a care o’ us!” cried the astonished custodier of baggage, who, to do him justice seemed and exceedingly sober and attentive person. “The Lord have a care o’ us, sir! The trunks no canny.”
“It’s canny enough, you fool,” said the gentleman sharply; “but only you don’t pay proper attention to it.”
The fact was, that the trunk had been taken out of the coach and placed in the lobby, in order to allow of certain other articles being got at which lay beneath. It was now once more stowed away, and we set forward upon the remaining part of our journey, hoping that there would be no more disturbance about this pestilent member of the community of trunks. All was right till we came to the lonely inn of St Michael’s, where a side road turns off to St Andrew’s, and where it happened that a passenger had to leave us to walk to that seat of learning, a servant having been in waiting to carry his luggage.
The tall gentleman, hearing a bustle about the boot, projected his immensely long slender body through the coach window, in order, like the lady in the fairy tale, to see what he could see.
“Hello, fellow!” cried he to the servant following the gentleman down the St Andrew’s road; “is that not my trunk? Come back, if you please, and let me inspect it.”
“The trunk, sir,” interposed the guard, in a sententious manner, “is that gemman’s trunk, and not yours: yours is in the book.”
“We’ll make sure of that, Mr Guard, if you please. Come back, my good fellow, and let me see the trunk you have got with you.”
The trunk was accordingly brought back, and, to the confession of the guard, who had thought himself fairly infallible for this time, it was the tall man’s property, as clear as brass nails could make it.
The trunk was now the universal subject of talk, both inside and outside, and every body said he would be surprised if it got to its journey’s end in safety. All agreed that it manifested a most extraordinary disposition to be lost, stolen, or strayed, but yet every one thought that there was a kind of special providence about it, which kept it on the right road after all; and, therefore, it became a fair subject of debate, whether the chances against, or the chances for, were likely to prevail.
Before we arrived at Newport, where we had to go on board the ferry steam boat for Dundee, the conversation had gone into other channels, and each being engaged about his own concerns, no one thought any more about the trunk, till just as the barrow was descending along the pier, the eternal long man cried out –
“Guard, have you got my trunk?”
“Oh, yes,” cried the guard very promptly, “I’ve taken care of it now. There it is on the top of all.”
“It’s no such thing,” cried the gentleman who had come into the coach at Cupar; “that’s my trunk.’
Every body then looked about for the enchanted trunk; the guard ran back, and once more searched the boot, which he knew to have been searched to the bottom before; and the tall gentleman gazed over land, water, and sky, in quest of his precious encumbrance.
“Well, guard,” cried he at length, “what a pretty fellow you are! There, don’t you see? – there’s my trunk thrust into the shed, like a piece of lumber!”
My Apologies – On to part 2

Published in: on March 9, 2013 at 9:00 am  Comments (1)