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The Grenadier Guards red tunic in the foreground is one of the attractions in vintage luggage dealer Robin Unsworth’s marquee at IACF Newark.

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It offers a detailed section on portmanteaus including mule panniers “as recommended by Lord Wolseley” as well as a gentlemen’s leather fitted suitcase at £33.10s.

This provided such necessities as two ivory hairbrushes and a hat brush, a pair of boot hooks, two razors, a strop, a writing case, a barrel corkscrew and “assorted instruments”. A solid leather stateroom trunk, “especially adapted for sea voyages,” cost 131s.6d (roughly £1300 today).

One person who knows all about portmanteaus is Robin Unsworth, who trades in this speciality end of the market – “superior vintage luggage and sporting goods”, as he describes his stock, which dates from 1880-1980 and he buys privately or through the trade.

“It all started in 2001,” he says, “when my wife gave me a gentlemen’s crocodile case as a present and I realised the appeal there was in vintage luggage: affordable things of very nice quality. So I started buying and restoring them and stood at my first fair in 2003.”

He is a long-standing exhibitor at IACF Ardingly and IACF Newark, where he recently won the fair organiser’s Best Dressed Stall title. Unsworth says these are brilliant fairs for him as there are so many overseas buyers.

“Most of my stock sells to buyers including dealers from China, Japan, Korea and the US who love the luggage’s very English look. It is mainly the sometimes monogrammed travel trunks which go for £200-800 and are used as coffee tables, as well as gun and cartridge cases from £400-800 and top-quality crocodile suitcases at £400-600.

“My lowest price is £30 for a leather gentleman’s collar box which were used up to the 1930s, when men stopped wearing detachable collars.”

You can find Unsworth in his handsomely dressed marquee at the next IACF Newark on Thursday and Friday, December 7-8.

iacf.co.uk