Louis Vuitton Explorers are rare beasts. Made in zinc, copper, brass or aluminium, the flat-topped ‘malle cabine’ was designed to meet the requirements of intrepid travellers to tropical climes.
Easily stacked, the hardwearing, air-tight form was invaluable for keeping the contents free from water, insects and dust.
The example offered at Thimbleby & Shorland in Reading on November 23 had the paper manufacturer’s label inside, numbered 44685, with Vuitton ’s Oxford Street address erased and changed to 454 Strand where the firm moved in 1888. The company’s signature ‘monogram’ canvas was not launched until almost a decade later.
Estimated at £15,000- 25,000, it was hammered down at £27,000 (plus 12% buyer’s premium including VAT).
Remarkably, a similar 2ft 10in (86cm) trunk, with a similar printed label numbered 33525, comes for sale at Toovey’s on December 6 estimated at £20,000-30,000. It is the second example the firm has handled in as many years. In October 2017 it sold another for £26,000. Specialist Will Rowsell told ATG: “The consignor of this trunk saw our blog on the sale of a similar trunk two years ago and got in touch. She has had it a long time and was not aware of its value until she saw our blog. These trunks are rare and in demand with collectors.”
Earlier this year, on June 26, Guernsey’s Martel Maides sold another labelled 33846 at a £29,000 hammer price (plus 17.5% buyer’s premium including VAT).
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 £130,000 (plus 25% premium), with the other known example in the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris.