LV Croquet

Special-order Louis Vuitton croquet trunk in monogram canvas and brass hardware, 2008. Estimate: €40,000-80,000 at Christie’s Online.

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The online sale titled Legendary Trunks: A European Private Collection comprises over 100 pieces of luggage by the brand including both historical rarities and more recent limited edition and made-to-order pieces. Bidding closes on July 3.

Late 19th and early 20th century Louis Vuitton Explorer trunks are a rare and desirable subset of vintage luggage. Made in zinc, copper, brass or aluminium, the flat-topped ‘malle cabine’ was designed to meet the requirements of intrepid European travellers to tropical climes. Portable and hardwearing, these air-tight forms were invaluable for keeping the contents free from water, insects and dust.

The rarest of all Vuitton Explorer trunks is the aluminium model. Just a handful of these were made in a single year (1892) at a time when aluminium was considered a precious metal. Christie’s sold one in December 2018 for a record £130,000 (plus 25% premium), with the other known example in the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris.

Offered here with is an Explorer wardrobe trunk from c.1925. If it betters the €120,000-180,000 estimate it will set a new high for vintage LV luggage.

LV Copper

Louis Vuitton hermetic copper Explorer trunk c.1925. Estimate: €120,000-180,000 at Christie’s Online.

Made in Asnières, just outside Paris, Louis Vuitton trunks were the first with flat tops for stacking (from 1858) and the first to feature an ‘unpickable’ lock (from 1886) – but imitations quickly followed. In a bid to prevent plagiarism, Vuitton expanded his range of canvas coverings: striped canvases in red and white (1872) and beige and brown (1876), followed in 1888 by the Damier Ebene canvas — the checkerboard design that is now synonymous with the brand.

Vintage Louis Vuitton luggage doesn’t get much better than the 1920s Malle Chaussures: a ‘made to order’ trunk with compartments for multiple pairs of shoes and ancillary drawers for shoehorns and a cleaning kit. Based on a model the firm first made for the opera singer Lily Pons. They were made in a number of different sizes with some having drawers for up to 40 pairs of shoes.

LV Shoes

Louis Vuitton trunk for 36 pairs of shoes, 1926. Estimate: €15,000-20,000 at Christie’s Online.

The example offered here with space for 36 pairs of shoes c.1926 has an estimate of €15,000-20,000.

As the luxury travel industry evolved in the early 20th century, the company embraced the idea that it wasn’t only clothing that could travel. While new collectors often begin their journey with classic hard-sided models, such as wardrobe, steamer and cabin trunks (many of them used as chic coffee or side tables) LV obsessives aim to own some of the harder-to-find bespoke creations.

LV Books

Louis Vuitton library trunk made to contain the 26 volumes and index of the 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Estimate €12,000-€18,000 at Christie’s Online.

Some of the company’s most extravagant and innovative creations were published in Louis Vuitton: 100 Legendary Trunks (2010). They include the limited-edition Casino Trunk, which was launched in 2009 to celebrate the grand opening of Louis Vuitton’s store in Macau. The interior features storage compartments for gambling paraphernalia, including a roulette wheel, 20 packs of cards and 800 poker chips. It could be yours for between €50,000-100,000.

LV Casino

Louis Vuitton Casino Trunk, 2009. Estimate: €50,000-100,000 at Christie’s Online.