The Art of the Luggage Label

Location: Jacksonville, Florida, United States

Monday, February 16, 2009

Starting in two weeks, my new web site will be THE source to purchase labels from the collection of Gyorgy Razso, a Hungarian collector who amassed one of the biggest luggage label collections in the world.

The Razso Collection website

Friday, September 28, 2007

Check out my new image stream of luggage labels. Hundreds of photos and lots of information.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The art of travel: Luggage Labels

Welcome to probably the first blog devoted to the art of luggage labels. Luggage labels are fascinating bits of hotel history from the golden age of travel, roughly the 1900's to 1950's. During this time these labels were used by hotels as advertising and eagerly applied to steamer trunks, suitcases and all sorts of luggage by hotel staff, mainly bellhops. Today, these same labels are highly desirable and sought after by collectors all over the world. This blog will serve as resource of information about these fascinating bits of travel history.

Richter & Co.,
the great
Italian printer

The poster at right was recently offered for sale by a New York auction house and what struck me was how similar it is to the small format luggage label below. Can you guess what else is common about both of the items?

They were both printed by Richter & Co. of Naples, Italy and designed by two of thier greatest artists, Mario Borgoni and J. Paschal. If you look
closely you can see Mario's monogram in the left hand margin of the poster. The luggage label has the "JP" monogram in the extreme lower left hand corner. Both monograms are commonly seen on Richter labels from this period. More on Richter labels in future posts!

Undiscovered Sweeney Label?

Recently while scanning ebay auction listings I came across this travel brochure with a cover illustrated by Dan Sweeney. Sweeney was the creator of a beautiful series o
f labels for several hotels in the Far East in the 1930's and these are highly sought after by collectors today. To date, the following labels are known to exist: these include the Hong-Kong Hotel; The Peak Hotel, HK; Peninsula Hotel, HK; Repulse Bay Hotel, HK; Grand Hotel des Wagons-Lits, Peking; Astor House, Shanghai; Majestic Hotel, Shanghai; Palace Hotel, Shanghai; Grand Hotel Metropole, Hanoi; Continental Palace Hotel, Saigon; and Manila Hotel. With the discovery of this cover, there is the possibility that Sweeney created another label for this hotel; The Oriental, Bankok. If there are any collectors out there that have this label please let me know! We need confirmation! Also, for a great overview on this artist visit: This overview is part of a well-written and throughly researched site by fellow collector Joao-Manuel Mimoso who has one of the biggest and best collections of hotel luggage labels in the world. Happy Hunting!

A Richter & Co. Salesman Sample

For all the collectors and fans of Richter & Co. luggage labels, I thought you would enjoy taking a look at this beautiful and possibly unique salesman sample that recently was auctioned by Swann Galleries in New York City.

It was common for salesman from various printing companies to visit hotels and show off their latest creations, and these meetings generally led to more label commissions including reprints and/or redesigns of existing labels. These salesman samples were printed on silk so that they could be rolled up and easily transported. The Richter labels shown here are primarily the work of Mario Borgoni, but there are also labels designed by J. Paschal in this grouping. Hopefully, this will help you to reference labels from your own collection and shed new light on the process of how these labels were created. By the way, the sample sold for $3400!

Charles Kuhn Swiss designer of luggage labels

Charles Kuhn (1903-1999) was a designer of many spectacular Swiss hotel luggage labels and posters during the golden age of travel. Some of Kuhn's best designs were produced during a ten year period, roughly from 1930 to 1940. His works are noted for their clean, simple compositions and dramatic use of form and shape. Kuhn's tightly cropped images against simple backgrounds heightened the drama of his designs, an example of which can be seen in his poster for Hotel Hecht St. Gallen (upper left) printed around 1940. A fish intrudes into the frame as it grabs the name of the hotel in a banner at the bottom. Even in the small scale of a luggage label this image is both powerful and memorable. Kuhn also used humor to great effect as seen in one of his most successful designs, Hotel Casino Belvedere Davos (lower left) in which a lobster plays the bass as it's antenna wrap around the hotel name. In most cases, Kuhn signed his labels and posters with a simple "ck" monogram. The majority of his designs were published by Wolfsberg Press of Zurich Switzerland. Both the labels and posters were printed in the stone lithography process adding to their brilliance and detail. The four poster images above are unique because they were also produced as luggage labels. If you have an undiscovered Charles Kuhn label in your collection email me a jpeg and I'll post it for you!