These antique travel trunks let people travel in perfectly-organized style, and put modern suitcases to shame

1920s Antique wardrobe trunks - Inside and outside

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Around a hundred years ago, when posh people traveled by train or by ship, they often brought along antique travel trunks like the ones shown below.

These super-extra suitcases offered more than just space for clothing, but helped both men and women to easily pack and organize entire outfits, right down to the accessories. 

They differed from basic trunks in a few ways. For one, old-fashioned steamer trunks (also known as packer trunks) lay horizontally, and often had a hinged top that opened — sort of like a pirate’s chest.

While these fancy wardrobe trunks were about the same size, they almost always sat on one end, and you opened them in the middle, like you would for double doors.

Vintage travel trunk from Hartmann (1916)

Inside, there were usually several drawers, hangers, and shoe pockets. Some models also included bonuses like special hat holders, glove boxes, locking drawers, hidden compartments, and even fold-out ironing boards!

While we do have large garment bags and suitcases today — not to mention compact carry-ons with countless pockets — you just can’t find trunks like these nowadays. (And without wheels, they’d be a lot to lug around in these post-servant days.)

As quaint as this old-fashioned luggage may seem, it’s worth realizing that these boxy trunks were not cheap. Some of the least expensive ones here cost about $84 dollars back then — the equivalent to about $1,340 in 2021 dollars — which means the costliest models below would set you back around $2,500 today.

1920s woman organizing clothes in an antique travel trunk


How to use an antique wardrobe trunk (1914)

This handy diagram showed how and where men and women could store everything from her afternoon dresses to tango frocks, and his fishing tackle and camera.

How to use an antique wardrobe trunk (1914)


Belber traveing wardrobe trunk (1917)

Belber traveing wardrobe trunk (1917)

ALSO SEE: 20 vintage dresses from the Roaring Twenties that would fit right into the Great Gatsby


The Mendel Wardrobe Trunk (1910)

The woman who loves order finds a jewel in the Mendel Wardrobe Trunk

Mendel Wardrobe Trunk (1910)


Elegant & expensive full-size antique travel trunk

Trunk for Men or Women; full size; round edge; fiber covered three-ply veneer box; dome top; fiber lined; vulcanized fiber covering; panels studded with rivets; extra-wide rawhide binding; two rawhide center bands; steel brass plated draw bolts; solid brass paracentric style lock; fancy cretonne lining throughout.

Five drawers; lock on top drawer; top drawer divided into three compartments; secret drawer for jewelry, etc.; hat crown in bottom drawer; two lower drawers combine to make a hat box 20 inches square; patented double extending open front double trolley.

Ffull set of 5 ply birch veneer garment hangers; patented clothes retainer with self-locking slide fasteners; patented angle steel frame; shoe pockets; laundry bag; height 45 inches; width 231/2 inches; depth 22 inches. Each $158.50.

Elegant expensive full-size antique travel trunk from the 1900s


Three-quarter size trunk with ironing board and swing-out drawers (1922)

Three-quarter size trunk with ironing board and swing-out drawers (1922)


Old-fashioned luxury wardrobe steamer trunk with drawers and hangers

Wardrobe Trunk; open top; round edge fiber covered; three-ply veneer; hinged dome top; fiber lined; covering on dark green vulcanized fiber; black fiber binding and center bands; brass plated steel draw bolts; solid brass paracentric style lock.

Fancy cretonne lined; open top is velvet lined; five-drawers; top drawer divided into three compartments; hat crown in lower drawer; silk hat form in third drawer; open front double trolley; full set of five-ply birch veneer hangers; patented clothes retainer; new patented angle steel frame which prevents warping.

Dustproof drawer on wardrobe side; shoe pockets; laundry bag; umbrella strap; device for locking all drawers at one time; height 45 inches width 23-1/2 inches; depth 22 inches Each $153.50.

DON’T MISS: 1920s lingerie, women’s underwear, corsets & more: Take a peek!

Old-fashioned wardrobe steamer trunk with drawers and hangers


Old-style travel trunk with clothing storage (1919)

Old wardrobe trunk with clothing storage (1919)


Antique travel trunk for men or women – Dark green or maroon (1919)

Steamer travel trunk; fiber covered; round edge; extra deep; box is of three-ply veneer; fiat top; covering and binding of vulcanized fiber.

Hardware steel brass plated; draw bolted; solid brass excelsior lock; fancy cloth lining; three drawers and drop compartment; hinge partition in drop compartment with hat form on one side and space for shirts on other; patented double extending open front; double trolley.

Six five-ply veneer garment hangers; patented clothes retainers; with self-locking slide fasteners; patented angle steel frame which prevents warping; height 40 inches; width 17 inches: depth 22 inches, Each $84.00.

ALSO SEE: See old-fashioned swimsuits & what else people wore to the beach 100 years ago

Antique wardrobe trunk for men or women - Dark green or maroon (1919)


Steamer or taxi-size trunk with ironing board (1922)

Steamer or taxi-size wardrobe trunk with ironing board (1922)


Steamer wardrobe trunk

Steamer Wardrobe Trunk; fiber covered: round edge; extra deep; box is of three-ply veneer; flat top; covering and binding of vulcanized fiber; hardware steel brass plated; draw bolted; solid brass excelsior lock; fancy cloth lining.

Three drawers and drop compartment; hinge partition in drop compartment with hat form on one side and space for shirts on other; patented double extending open front, double trolley.

Six five-ply veneer garment hangers; patented clothes retainers; with self-locking slide fasteners; patented angle steel frame which prevents warping; height 40 inches; width 17 inches: depth 22 inches. $84.00.

Steamer wardrobe trunk from 1919


Simple old-fashioned wardrobe trunk (1922)

Simple old-fashioned travel trunk (1922)

ALSO SEE: Victorian corsets: What they were like & how women used to wear them


Full-size antique travel trunk with drawers & hangers

Full-size antique wardrobe trunk with drawers and hangers


Antique travel trunk with hat box & laundry bag

Wardrobe Trunk for Men or Women; full-size round edge; covered three-ply veneer; dome top fiber lined; black vulcanized covering and binding; steel brass plated draw volts; solid brass paracentric lock.

Fancy cretonne lined; five drawers; top drawer divided into compartments; lock on top drawer; hat crown in bottom drawer; two lower drawers combine to make hat box about 20 inches square; patented double extending open front trolley.

Full set five birch veneer hangers; patented cloths retainer with self-locking slide fasteners and new style patented angle steel frame; shoe pockets; laundry bag; height 45 inches; width 23 inches; depth 22 inches. Each $120.00.

Antique wardrobe trunk with hat box and laundry bag


Hartmann wardrobe trunks: Exterior (1920)

A new travel creation: Castle-Grande, the latest Hartmann wardrobe, brings to travelers an entirely new realization of luxurious comfort and durability.

This masterpiece of trunk making, inherently different in material and constration, is covered with richest Brocadel which gives it exclusive individuality.

Hartmann wardrobe trunks (1922)


Hartmann wardrobe trunk interior (1922)

Travelers who value luxury, comfort and quiet distinction place their certain dependence on the Hartmann wardrobe trunk.

ALSO SEE: 1920s shoes for women: Stylish footwear from a century ago

Hartmann wardrobe trunk interior (1922)


Heavy-duty vintage vertical wardrobe trunk (1922)

Heavy-duty vintage vertical wardrobe trunk (1922)


Full-size antique travel trunk with fancy lining & 5 drawers

Wardrobe Trunk for Man or Woman; full size; round edge; fiber covered three-ply veneer box, flat top; vulcanized fiber covering; steel brass plated hardware; draw bolts; self-locking excelsior style lock; fancy cretonne lining.

Five drawers; hat crown in bottom drawer; two lower drawers combine to make a hat box about 20 inches square; open front; double trolley; full set of five-ply birch hangers; patented clothes retainers with self-locking slide fasteners; patented angle steel frame; shoe pockets.

Height 43 inches; width 23-1/2, inches; depth 22 inches. Each $90.00. Three-quarter size: $82.50.

Full-size wardrobe trunk with fancy lining and 5 drawers


A good wardrobe trunk lasts a lifetime (1924)

A good wardrobe trunk lasts a lifetime (1924)

ALSO SEE: Vintage beauty cases & train cases: See luggage with fold-out trays from the olden days

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