TOUCHSTONE Come, shepherd, let us make an honorable retreat,/though not with bag and baggage, yet with scrip and scrippage.*

*from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” III ii.

Mark Rathbone wrote in History Today of December 2004:

“Early in May 1876, a revolt against Turkish rule began in Panagyurishte in Bulgaria. The Turks responded with vicious reprisals in which many Bulgarian men, women and children died. Estimates of the number of victims, reported in newspapers at the time, varied between 10,000 and 25,000. When news of these events arrived in London, the Conservative Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, reacted by casting doubt on the accuracy of the reports, contemptuously describing them as ‘coffee-house babble’. When challenged in the Commons in July about the stories of Turkish atrocities, he cast doubt on their veracity…As the Eastern Question Association organised hundreds of meetings, condemning both the atrocities themselves and the government’s refusal to condemn them, Disraeli remained unmoved. ‘Our duty at this critical moment,’ he said in August, ‘is to maintain the Empire of England.’ ”


“It was in reference to the occupation of Bulgaria by Turkey that Mr. Gladstone made his celebrated “bag and baggage” speech, saying, “I entreat my countrymen to insist that our government shall concur with the other states of Europe in obtaining the extinction of the Turkish executive power in Bulgaria. Let the Turks now carry away their abuses in the only possible manner,—namely, by carrying off themselves. Their zaptiehs and their mudirs, their bimbashes and their yuzbashis, their kaimakans and their pashas,—one and all, bag and baggage, shall, I hope, clear out from the province they have desolated and profaned.” (May 7, 1877)”

From Wikipedia:

“A Gladstone bag is a small portmanteau suitcase built over a rigid frame which could separate into two equal sections. Unlike a suitcase, a Gladstone bag is “deeper in proportion to its length.” Gladstones are typically made of stiff leather and often belted with lanyards. The bags are named after William Ewart Gladstone (1809–1898), the four-time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Hinged luggage was first developed in the mid 19th century. One of the first recorded official documentations of the Gladstone bag is a British patent registered by Edward Cole. Edward Cole was a leather case maker based at No. 9 Hemmings Row, City of Westminster.

The patent for “An Improvement In The Frames Of Traveling Bags” was registered by Edward Cole on 4 February 1854 and sealed 14 July 1854. This original patent is still held by Cole Brothers of England in their archive. The business of Edward Cole was taken over and run by two of his sons James and Edward at the end of the 19th Century and subsequently changed to Cole Brothers in 1907, being located at 24a Floral Street, Covent Garden after the earlier demolition of the Hemmings Row site in 1886 to make way for the extension to the National Gallery.

The Gladstone bag should not be confused with the attaché case-styled red box (also called a dispatch box or ministerial box) which is issued to British Cabinet ministers to carry official paperwork. Red boxes are made by Barrow Hepburn & Gale, and the pattern of the two styles is totally different. When he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gladstone used a red box to carry his 1853 Budget Speech to Parliament. The travelling case to which his name is now attached was not patented until the following year. It has a frame with an opening top, rather than the book-type opening on a spine featured on the red box.

By the end of the 19th century, the Gladstone bag had been adopted by doctors to carry their medical equipment. Gladstone bags were also used by the pursers on the RMS Titanic to carry valuables.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s