Amelia Earhart became famous in her time for her many achievements in aviation and has remained an American icon even after her disappearance. She was a celebrity in her time and asked to put her name behind quite a few items. Because Earhart was so familiar with air travel, her luggage was practical and durable.
Vintage Modernaire Earhart Luggage
At the time, it represented everything the typical traveler would need to take with her on a trip. The luggage was produced long after her disappearance up until the late 1900s, by companies like American Tourister, but the vintage luggage most closely resembles what she put her name on.
Although the suitcases were manufactured by a specific company, Earhart made sure that they met certain standards before she would allow them to bear her stamp of approval. The original suitcases were made from molded plywood and covered in dyed cowhide. Later suitcases in this line were made of vinyl. A small metal plate sat on top of the case with Earhart's name engraved in it. The suitcases were lined with satin and had gathered side pockets on the interior. Red seemed to be a popular hue for this line of suitcases. They were also available in red and brown. The pieces within the three-piece collection included:
- Box Suitcases: The suitcases were boxy and available in two sizes. The larger suitcase measures 26.5 by 18 inches. The smaller suitcase measures 24 by 17 inches. Features the durable clasp.
- Train Case: A hard sided train case was another element of the Earhart collection. The case was deep and had a small mirror on the interior of the lid. The case was perfect for holding makeup and beauty products and small enough to be carried directly onto a flight. The train case measures 14 by 9 inches and is 9 inches deep. Many come with a small tray and a zippered compartment on the inside. Also features the durable clasp feature.
- Carry-on Bag: A small carry-on bag with soft sides is little enough to serve as a carry-on bag to this day. It measures approximately 15 by 12 inches.
There are a few disadvantages to purchasing vintage Amelia Earhart luggage. First, the suitcases are fairly heavy. This may make it difficult to meet modern air travel luggage weight requirements without having to pay additional fees. Also, plywood and cowhide is not as durable as some of the more modern materials available today. The luggage does not have wheels. In addition to being heavy when packed with clothes, you will have to actually carry these suitcases rather than wheeling them through an airport.
Ideas on How to Display
Since these vintage suitcases are no longer practical for today's air travel, consider using them to decorate your home. Stack the suitcases on top of one another in a corner of your living room. You can even use the interiors for additional storage by putting folded blankets or board games on the inside.
Where to Buy
The suitcases were manufactured for nearly 60 years, so there is a steady supply of vintage Amelia Earhart suitcase sets and individual pieces available. People have had luck locating pieces on eBay, Etsy and through local thrift stores. Estate sales are another good source for complete sets in excellent condition. Whether you inherit the suitcases from an elderly family member or love the story behind them so much that you seek out a set from a seller, you'll be bringing a little piece of history into your home.