MathildeHK at the Liang Yi Museum TALKS – The Wonderful World of Royal Travel Cases by Jaap Kamp

You like History, You enjoy learning about ancient artifacts, You like Decorative Arts,

On Tuesday, April 14th, I attended the Liang Yi April talk on Vanity cases.  The Wonderful World of Royal Travel Cases was presented by  Jaap Kamp and his wife who both have been collecting travel cases for more than 20 years.  Jaap Kamp is the chairman of the Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam, his wife was a silversmith expert in Amsterdam.


The Museum of Bags and Purses, Herengracht 573, 1017 CD Amsterdam,

Jasper introduced us to the Upper European society of  the 18th to the 20th century  and to the cases they would bring along in their many trips, holidays or sometimes exiles.  The lecture also mentioned the medium of these ‘necessaires de voyage’ to investigate their  influence on modern beauty cases and picnic baskets. Jasper Kamp brought along a few of his historical pieces for the audience to admire.

The interest in everyday hygiene objects, especially beauty cases is quite recent in the art world. Firstly, both luxury and travel has been reserved to a certain social class until WWII. The objects necessary to medical care and toilette were then used until recently. As for royal travel cases, King and Princes had several version of travel cases made over their life times.

Usually, brushes and large items were displayed inside the case, along with a teacup, people being afraid of diseases when travelling, while smaller objects, such as knives, sewing kits and cutlery were on the top of the case.



Marie Antoinette’s original necessaire, Louvre Museum, Paris,

One of the most famous Eighteenth century travel case is the one of Marie Antoinette, who was said to be very attentive to her body care. According to several sources, including Madame Campan’s memoirs, a duplicate travelling case was ordered by the Queen in April 1791 for her sister Maria Christina, Duchess of Teschen of the Austrian Netherlands.

“The Queen ordered that second travelling case from the same Royal Cabinet-maker who had make her fist set, Palma and Silversmith Jean-Pierre Charpenat, both based in Paris. However, in May when the Queen realized she may flee at any moment, this “gift” for her sister was not ready and would take a few more weeks. Not wanting to wait, Marie Antoinette announced that she would just send her own case as her sister was very impatient. Her original case was cleaned out and sent in mid-May to her sister Christina in the Netherlands. In 1794 it went to her brother in Italy (Milano hallmarks) before finally returning to France during the early 19th century. Records show it was subsequently purchased by the Louvre in 1955 for 1,4 million francs. It is this original case that is displayed in the Louvre today. Researching the provenance of Marie Antoinette’s duplicate travelling case has proven extremely difficult.” Katherine Palthey, from the  association of small collectors of antique silver.

The recent exhibition Royal travel cases: Necessaires de Voyage, hosted in the Belgium’s city of Antwerp, showcased amazing pieces, from February 7 to June 15 2014, among them a few lent by Jasper.


French royal travel case, Mahogany, Paris, XIXth century,

A complete set of skills and talents

‘At first tableware was the main requirement for such refined objects, but as the exacting French court travelers increasingly demanded more for their trips, toiletries, cutlery, flasks, candle holders, sewing kits and writing materials were all custom made and superbly crafted for travel in accompanying bags, trunks and cases’. By museum catalog


Vanity case, 1760–1800, Enameled copper, British, Staffordshire, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

They were produced by cabinetmakers such as Louis Vuitton and Asprey, gold and silversmiths, crystal and porcelain manufacturers all working together in collaboration.

Asprey, founded in 1781 by William Asprey, was originally based in Mitcham, Surrey until the company moved into its current New Bond Street premises. “From its central London location, Asprey advertised ‘articles of exclusive design and high quality, whether for personal adornment or personal accompaniment and to endow with richness and beauty the table and homes of people of refinement anddiscernment.” Asprey London


Advertisement for Asprey,

An early speciality was dressing cases, for which Queen Victoria awarded Asprey a Royal Warrant for in 1862. In the same year Asprey was also awarded a gold medal for its dressing cases at the International Exhibition.

My modern touch

I really enjoyed the talk and it reminded me of the top French luxury Brand for travel cases, malles and luggage: Pinel & Pinel which opened a showroom in Parisin 2011.


Malle Martel, Pinel&Pinel, France,

images (7)

Malle Pique – nique, Pinel&Pinel, Paris,


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