Thursday, 24 December 2015

When is a Gladstone Bag not a Gladstone Bag?

Simply when it is another kind of bag or piece of luggage that lacks the elegance and style of the compartmentalised briefcase that formed the design of the original Gladstone Bag.  The truth is, however, that no better, more practical, more attractive design of luggage or carrying bag has yet been created to beat or even match the original Gladstone Bag.  But many types of luggage, new and old, gain status and a higher perception of value among possible buyers purely because their name includes those iconic words ‘Gladstone Bag’ even though their design bears little similarity to the original.

It isn’t just definitions that vary, the Gladstone Bag also has different spellings depending on who you ask or where you look.  Oddest by far is the hyphenated spelling often given to the bag which denies the fact the bag was named after someone without hyphenated or double-barrel surname, namely William Gladstone (1809 – 1898), four times the Britain’s Prime Minister.

Encyclopedia.com, for example, uses the hyphenated spelling for Gladstone bag, erroneously we think, even though their definition is highly accurate:

‘Glad·stone bag • n. a bag like a briefcase having two equal compartments joined by a hinge. (encyclopedia.com)’

Just as definitions and spellings vary, so do the materials and craftworking skills used in creating these supremely British high status travelling bags.  That’s because the original Gladstone Bag was built on a hand made frame from top quality leather, all tanned and applied to the frame by hand, often by highly skilled craftsmen, while today many so-called ‘Gladstone Bags’ are created by machine and mass manufactured from poor quality leather or no leather at all.



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