Today Tom estimates his collection numbers somewhere around 7000 labels, plus another 600 historic travel-related items.
''Luggage labels are fascinating bits of hotel history from the golden age of travel, roughly the 1900's to 1960's,'' Tom explains. ''The labels were used by hotels as advertising and eagerly applied to steamer trunks, suitcases and all sorts of luggage by hotel staff, mainly bellhops.''
Along with other bits of travel ephemera, Tom displays the bulk of his vast collection on his wonderful Flickr site here. ''My goal is to create an online visual resource for collectors that will educate and inform,'' he says. ''Eventually I'd like to have one of the most comprehensive collections of labels on the web. And one of the best ways to do this is by encouraging other collectors to add to the images to the site.'' So if you have labels, Tom would love to hear from you.
Tom has his favorites, of course, such as those from the great label printers and artists of the 1930's. ''Printers such as BRÜGGER of Meiringen, Richter & Co and A. TRÜB & Cie of Aarau produced some fantastic labels during this time period using stone lithography, engraving and chromolithography,'' he said in a recent interview on the blog Ephemera. ''Artists such as Roger Broders, Jan Lavies, Erik Nitsche, Mario Borgoni, J. Pashal and Charles Kuhn worked with these printers to produce label designs of exceptional quality.''
On Flickr, Tom has his labels organized beautiful by theme, geography and subject. For example, you can see all the France labels here...and Paris labels here...and labels by the printer Richter & Co. here...and labels from the Belle Epoque here...and labels from North America and Canada here...
Tom also displays labels belonging to fellow collectors, such as Joao Mimoso and György Rázsó, among others.
If you're thinking luggage labels might be fun to collect, Tom's best tip is is to buy what interests you, not what you think is a good investment. Meanwhile he sells a few labels on Ebay; you can see that page here. For advertising and marketing purposes, Tom makes high-res digital images of his labels available; just email him (email@example.com) for more info. Tom's love affair with luggage labels is like a little vacation and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did...
Photos: A grid made from some of Tom's French labels...and a few favorites from the South of France.
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