We help you avoid the pitfalls !!
Malle2luxe was born from a passion for French craftsmanship and a passion for old baggage, the shining brass, the cowhide leather, canvas mellowed by transatlantic crossings and distant travels.
This article aims to educate prospective buyers, so that they can make the best choice for their next investment, and denounce certain questionable practices.
It is critical to fight against the destruction of our heritage that make up the world of Louis Vuitton, Goyard, Moynat ancient trunk restorations.
There are no article or document today that point out accurately defects to avoid when buying collectible trunk.
In order to help you, we have placed at your disposal our expertise of the world of old travel trunk and our experience in craftsmanship, which we hope will be valuable information to you.
Buying with an invoice, and not paying in cash scams are numerous as you will find throughout this article.
The invoice protects you in case of stolen object, and will allow you to resell your trunk better if the seller has good reputation in the market of the trunk of luxury. This bill is a guarantee of quality.
Attention, not all sellers, or association have good reputation and false invoice exists.
Obviously, if possible make a priority to keep trunks in perfect original condition.
Unfortunately, the original states are increasingly rare because these trunks have travelled, have been poorly stored and sometimes misused.
It is therefore common to buy trunks that have undergone one or more restorations.
The restorations are not harmful from the moment they meet certain criteria:
- The original design
- The period materials
- The quality of finishes
- Original parts and from the same period
The downgrades are:
- Wear and tear
- Parts damaged
- Leather parts
The elements that destroy a trunk:
- A painted canvas on the pattern or background
- A poor restoration
Buying in the auction house or at an art dealer (brokers, antique dealers, galleries, restaurants, etc.) is a good way to guarantee the authenticity of the trunk but does not guarantee a good restoration, so again, stay alert !
By purchasing a trunk in the auction room, buyers think they are making a good deal. It's not always the case !
Pay attention to selling costs ranging from 26% to 30% in addition to the auction price.
The enthusiasm of buyers to acquire collection trunks raises the price. In reality, they regularly pay 40% to 60% more than the actual price in the shop.
These trunks are often to be renovated and the price of a restoration is not negligible: several thousand euros.
So it's very risky. Complications can occur, such as glasses in the wood, which results in the fall of their value. The price of the works increases accordingly. It is the double penalty.
Only a specialist in luxury trunks can accurately assess the object and determine the extent of the damage and detect the mal-ways of previous restorations, such as a varnished or waxed canvas.
During these sales, merchants from around the world mingle with collectors and often novice individuals.
The euphoric atmosphere of the sales halls stimulates buyers who push the auction and this is reflected in the final sales price, sometimes delusional.
However, with the luxury trunks of Louis Vuitton, Goyard and Moynat growing steadily over the last few years and exceptional trunks becoming scarce, these acquisitions in the auction house are not such a bad deal for the most beautiful rooms. Nevertheless, it will be necessary to wait until the price of the quotation approaches the selling price.
Moreover, trunks "Trash can" whose canvas is varnished, repainted or tinkered are to be banished.
Because there is no state diploma of "antique dealer" nor of "trunk restorer" the profession is plagued by converted handyman.
No technical background or knowledge of the know-how of traditional methods or just to give a little sparkle to objects, some restorations can make do irreversible damage on original trunks.
It is therefore important that the luggage be entrusted to a professional craftsman and not to associations, self-taught, volunteers, private collectors and museums, each has his job.
A good restoration is one that keeps the authenticity of the trunk and its history, it becomes a true added-value of the object. It must be consistent with the existing. Erase the misuses and mishaps without suppressing its history.
Over the treatments and clumsy restorations. The baggage are usually denatured just by mistake and belief to do well.
The aim sought by the restorer is to bring the damaged object back to a healthy state, the closest possible to its original, while remaining true to its history and preserving the patina acquired over the years.
The restoration of a trunk is about bringing back the authenticity sometimes lost through the years.
We work in partnership with the historic malletier house in order to best comply with the history of their luggage.
Today, three principles govern the work of restoring luxury trunks:
- The restoration must be reversible
- The restoration must respect the choice of materials in agreement with the years of manufacture of the trunk.
- The restoration must be made with traditional techniques sometimes slower but more reliable to best respect the object.
As you will understand throughout this article, all restorations are not of equal value nor aim, they are preventive or curative.
The key to a beautiful restoration is to ensure that the finishes are fully respecting the expert know-how of the original malletier.
The trunk interiors are covered with cotton and linen canvas. The weaving is very fine, very tight, with a satin finish.
Originally, the interiors were glued with rabbit skin glue or fish glue, which explains brown spots formed by the lifts of this natural glue in case of humidity.
As well, the quilting is not made in the same fabric as that which covers the barrel.
In case of humidity, the interiors are often damaged as the trunks are hermetic and prevent the moisture to escape.
A good restoration is in line with the original, so that once the trunk is renovated the interior is aligned with the ensemble
The most common mistakes are bad restoration are:
- Use of an inappropriate canvas
Like this Louis Vuitton wheel (here).
Against the example of a striped trunk properly restored in our workshops.
Canvas identical to the origin, correctly laid.
- Use of synthetic fabric such as suedine which is an imitation of true suede (inner layer of the skin, which can be associated as velvet skin with soft touch and matte finish). It is fake textile made of polyester plastic looking like leather, used in trunk interior in 1975. It is common to see these bad restoration in old trunks of 1900, which totally distorts the object.
- The fabric of the old trunks is glued on the entire surface.
Another mistake made is the mis-use of apparent staples and exposed nails to hold a canvas. These are often done by amateurs rather than using the services of a specialist upholsterer.
This technique is common on cheap trunks.
It is not appropriate when the trunk is a Louis Vuitton, a Goyard, or a Moynat.
Example of a trunk canvas badly restored with exposed nailed and apparent stapling above.
This diminishes the worthiness of the trunk as the interiors would need to be totally restored again to bring it back to it original state
Example above of the inside of the trunk conforming to the original state, where the canvas is pasted through the entirety of the surface with perfect right angles ... etc
This trunk has been restored in our workshops.
Example above of the inside of a Louis Vuitton trunk fully restored in our workshops conforming to the original state.
Example of a Goyard suitcase 2010.
New trunks and suitcases of the Goyard brand have a canvas pasted on cardboard and then nailed to the barrel. It is a Goyard specificity.
Example of a 1900 car trunk interior restored in our workshops on behalf of the House Moynat Paris.
The interior patina is preserved to keep its historical state.
Another example of a restoration of exterior leather suitcase. Interior beige canvas, a classic.
Restored back to its identical state in our workshops.
The materials are identical as well as the techniques used.
It is a restoration fully conforming to its origin.
The quilting was intended to protect the content of the trunk and is a very important element of the trunk interior. The secret to a beautiful quilting is the volume with straight ribbons and lozenges of the same size.
The nails that connect the ribbons have bulging heads in solid brass.
Example of a Louis Vuitton original quilting on a 1910 trunk.
The original ribbons are used from various weaving and varied colours. However they are all 100% natural matt cotton.
The polyester ribbons are not appropriate for a luxury trunk restoration.
Their bright reflections are easily recognizable and very bad taste.
Example of numerous errors performed on quilting restoration:
- Lack of volume making the quilting flat.
- Cheap materials used: shiny polyester ribbons, coarse cloth, nails inappropriate place to hold the ribbons.
- Lines not forming the diamond shape required.
- Ribbons passing above the edges.
Example on this orange Vuittonite trunk where the interior is restored in by Malle2luxe respecting:
- The original materials
- know-how of the malletier
- the aesthetics of the time.
Example of a restored quilting in our workshops respecting all the original features. The materials used are the same as the originals as well as the techniques performed.
This displays the expertise of the trunk maker.
Example of a modern quilting of a 2007 Louis Vuitton trunk straight out of the historic workshops of Asnieres.
A good polish makes a a brass YELLOW GOLD, (shiny or polished mirror) with beautiful reflections, without scratching.
The adjoining canvas is not damaged or stained.
In addition, more the polish is successful, easier it will be to maintain.
Example of a polishing during a trunk production in the Louis Vuitton workshops Asnières.
Brasses are not to be varnished, waxed or be covered of any other protection. Only a regular maintenance with ensure a permanent mirror polish.
The following techniques are detrimental to a luxury trunk.
Many restorations and merchants use non-traditional techniques to revive the brass, and in search of economy and time, and sometime just by ignorance, these techniques cause damage to the brass.
The following techniques are detrimental to a premium trunk.
Usage of "Miror" :
The household product Miror is often used but his greasy formula stains the leather and leaves a whitish deposit on the canvas, this damage is irreversible.
Use of acid:
Hydrochloric acid based products.
These products gnaw and often leave irreversible traces on the canvas or leather
Brass is an alloy mainly composed of copper and zinc.
The chemical reaction of acid on the brass is highly deteriorating, it gnaws the zinc and highlight the copper contained in the brass. This results in a brass with uneven reflection. The damage creating reddish traces on the surface can be more or less deep in the mass of the brass depending on the levels of exposure to acid.
Even after polishing it will be therefore very hard to remove these traces and to give back the golden yellow colour of an original polished brass.
Example of an automobile trunk
Louis Vuitton, whose brass
And polishing of brass
In our workshops.
Using a wire brush:
Metal brushes used for stripping of old paint on metal are highly detrimental to the trunks’ brasses.
Indeed, using a brush to revive brasses can:
not only damage the fabric attached to the pieces polished.
But also deeply scratch the brass forming furrows in the matter. It will be very hard to fix the damage and lean the surface back to its original state.
Example marks left by polishing with a wire brush, recognizable with blurred reflections and these wire brush marks.
The brass will be bright but we will lose the essential smooth side required of a shiny or mirror polish.
The metal brush bristles permanently damage the brass. This impact the trunk premium.
Example of a Louis Vuitton wardrobe purchased by one of our customers. He asked us to "take over" all the restoration of the trunk, the polishing of the brass because it was entrusted to the wrong person.
We have resumed the flatness,
Then polish to remove the engravings made by the brush.
Now the surface is perfectly smooth and shiny.
The nylon brush used has completely plowed, deformed the surface, a massacre ...
A sure financial cost that would have gone well.
These marks caused by a brush are not usual marks and are not part of the soul of the luggage, it's just the damage of a bad restoration.
Another example of a Moynat trunk that was in the hands of a competitor and that our customer asked us to restore.
After resumption in our workshops Malle2luxe.
The brass or bronze had been either said to be restored with acid and with a metallic brush, a carnage.
Deep furrows that we recovered with difficulty.
On the outside of the trunk, the canvas are fragile and precious.
They cannot be restored just with a shot of karcher.
Restoring a canvas is like a painting, it requires patience and thoroughness.
One should never apply varnish, oil or wax.
These products will shine in the short term but will create irreversible damages in the long term.
An appropriate restoration is to stay true to the canvas history by preserving the patina taken over the years.
Example of two Louis Vuitton trunks
which canvas were restored in our workshops
preserving their patina.
On coated canvas, the application of insulating products such as wax or even worse any type of varnish (glycerol, polyester, polyurethane, water, resin ...) is a disaster.
These products trap dirt and completely prevent any possible restoration or adequate cleaning.
Varnishes trunks are unfortunately doomed.
Example with this beautiful Goyard Trunk
doomed by poor restoration.
BE careful of the re-painting !
It can discount a trunk value of -50% to -70%.
Even worse than the varnish, the "repainting" also called re-colouring, re-pigmenting or re-coating, ... In short the canvas is painted over its surface!
Ii is one of the most devastating and irreversible techniques luxury trunks such as Luis Vuitton, Goyard, Moynat, which significantly discounts their value.
Painting over the canvas is killing the luggage soul just like if an old watch dial from a Rolex, Omega, Breguet, Patek Philippe, Vacheron or an old painting was painted over.
No fabrics will be spared with just a single coat of glycerol or acrylic paint
- The striped canvas
- The damier canvas
- The LV canvas
- The plain "Vuittonite" Orange, yellow, green, blue, brown, red, black ...
Example of a canvas Louis Vuitton repainted from bad
This trunk loses all collection value, warning.
Example of a painted canvas of very good quality
which can deceive many buyer.
The form is completely cracked but the logo
appears as new as it was repainted.
Example of a striped Louis Vuitton trunk partially repainted.
The paintings Beige / Red is more rare.
The red bands wer painted over the original beige.
Tip: The striped fabric is a woven fabric, it can therefore not be coated, if coated if it means she was repainted.
Example of an original striped canvas trunk which is a beautiful collection piece.
Example of a canvas Louis Vuitton "piqued" by moisture and doomed.
This kind of trunk is often "painted" over the canvas.
A damaged canvas discounts the trunk value by at least 80%.
Example of an outer trunk canvas painted
and completely dooming this plain colour trunk.
We estimate that 60% of plain color trunks sold at the merchants are partially or totally repainted, hence the importance of being extremely vigilant.
Example of orange coated Vuittonite canvas
(original grain canvas "grief" recalling grain leather).
The paint can reduce the grain of the fabric. It is easy to see if a canvas was painted just by putting the material under a "black light" lamp.
Example of a 1905 trunk restored
in our workshops on behalf of the
House Moynat Paris.
(Trunk in Moynat at the Bon Marché store in Paris)
Another example of a trunk whose canvas was torn and wood painted in red.
Leather is a noble material. It is also a natural, living, fragile and delicate matter.
It cannot bear the humidity which damages trunks and suitcases.
Trunks with leather trim are the most popular. Yet they must be in perfect condition. As soon as chaps, gaps in the fabric or cracks appear, there is no alternative but to replace the leather, otherwise it will discount the trunk value.
Black "fuzzy" leather with smeared is a sign that does not lie, it is an "advanced state of putrefaction" which means leather needs to be changed.
Some leather trunks are too damaged that they are doomed.
For example this trunk above, the entire leather fabric would need to be replaced. This is a cumbersome and costly restoration, which sometimes would be more expensive than the price of the renovated luggage.
Replacing a leather item is a big restoration because these leather items are secured by hundreds of nails that need to be placed appropriately.
It will mean graining the leather pieces and re-attach exactly as per original.
The choice of leather and the hot marking technique are essential to respect the trunk to its original state.
The replacement of a leather element is an important restoration because they are fixed by hundreds of nails that will have to be deposited.
It will take leatherer these elements and rivet the whole as originally.
The choice of leather, such as hot stamping are essential in order to be the most faithful of the origin and skate to get the perfect color.
Example of a partial restoration of the leathers
On this unified Vuitton trunk.
Leather is used for its extraordinary mechanical properties. But years of usage and treatment can alter its matter. It is common that the handles are snatched or broken.
Example of a poor handle restoration (see handle on the side of the luggage).
This handle has nothing to do with the original handles (visible on top of the luggage)
Other examples of bad handle restoration.
Handle "Cheap" in ‘basane’ leather (sheepskin)
This is "soft" low-end quality leather, easily recognizable by the poor quality of the seams (done by sewing machine) and the absence of marquing at the edges which you can find on original trunk handles.
This is a poor quality finish.
Example of a beautiful handle restoration of a Louis Vuitton trunk performed in our workshop.
In cowhide leather with a vegetal tanning and decorative hot marked.
Another example of a great handle restoration of a Goyard suitcase made in our workshop.
Couture point by point, always handmade, solid brass ring (not in brass-plated steel).
Another example of a beautiful Vuitton trunk handle restoration.
In cowhide leather with a vegetal tanning, very thick and very hard handle. The handle will not warp nor break when carrying the luggage.
Couture stitched by hand.
The decorative edgings are made respecting the original technique.
Another example of paired handles patinated and aged to match the original colors of the trunk, set realized sure in our workshops malle2luxe. Aged according to the demands of our most demanding customers.
This is the same leather as the one used originally.
Laying of a handle in the historical Ateliers of Asnieres.
The Louis Vuitton Maison offers to restore its old baggages.
Example of a Goyard leather box restored in our workshops on behalf of the Maison Goyard Paris (Heritage Department).
The leather tab has been fully redone, skated identically to original to ensure smooth matching with the rest of the box.
Examples of "generic" pieces of modern industrial or artisanal manufacture.
These spare parts, adaptable without any patina, are copies more or less faithful, reproduced without agreement with the marks, they are not authentic and the quality is different from that of origin.
These copies are detrimental to the rating of your collection trunk.
The replacement of original parts belonging to the original manufacturer can be another source of value downgrade. For instance this Louis Vuitton trunk claps that have been replaced.
Another example of bad restoration of a Louis Vuitton trunk: a number of parts have been replaced (the locks, canvas parts, nails ...)
This trunk no longer complies with the original.
The trunk restoration has to be performed with the traditional techniques just like in the world of antiques or furniture renovation.
often slower, but more reliable, and more respectful for the object.
The original technique prohibits for example the use of screws whether visible or hidden.
It is not appropriate with the traditional Malletier technique and know-how and greatly reduces the value of the trunk.
The traditional technique also prohibits the use of resin pulpwood glue or other modern chemical product.
The materials and products used must be consistent with the year of manufacture of the luggage.
Wood pulp fills the holes, slots but will not reinforce the wooden barrel or slats.
Only a structural recovery, whose purpose is to replace damaged wood is a sustainable restoration.
We therefore never use wood pulp on the restorations of our trunks.
And finally, the worst is to combine bad taste and customization:
Colour, disrespect of material to use or even disregard of the traditional techniques.
Commonly called "trunk tuning" it will discount the value of these prestigious trunks.
The "trunk tuning" can also apply to luggage.
For instance this Louis Vuitton Alzer suitcase that was added slats of wood to resemble to a trunk.
This customization further devalues the luggage.
Malle Louis Vuitton, checkered canvas cut, imaginary dimension.
A Frankenstein that loses all value.
Photo available soon
Another example of Frankenstein trunk.
Atypical model, bulging like the old Louis Vuitton trunks but unfortunately there never existed a bulging trunk with a LV canvas.
Moreover, this one is a PVC fabric. It seems that it was rebuilt, in part, with the elements of an authentic Alzer Louis Vuitton suitcase.
In this specific case the model is imaginary, although all the pieces are authentic, has no collection value.
Creative imagination has no limits just like for this sofa trunk.
A disaster, of course.
Louis Vuitton trunk also totally personalized, inspired by "Mahogany auto gear box"
Pure fiction product with no value.
Artist-like amateurs replace inside or outside canvas by very bad taste textile.
Designers prefer the ‘aviator’ like trunks made of copper, stainless steel, brass, zinc or modern replica to give a "loft / industrial" atmosphere.
These are contemporary trunks that are less than 10 years old.
Riding on the collection prestigious trunk trend, they have no patina.
These are not collectible trunks and are not as expensive between 200 and 500 euros.
Example of customization requested by one of our customers ,. On this Louis Vuitton trunk Moorish finish (whose borders and hardware are lacquered steel).
We were commissioned a restoration with a finish of the "medieval" steels, consisting of polishing the metal parts to give them a rustic side.
Since the steels are polished and not brushed with a wire brush (which would cause deep, irrecoverable scratching), this customization does not add value to the object, but does not distort the trunk because we can give it back Easily are original appearance by lacquering the steels in black.
Louis Vuitton trunk interior, customized with striped cloth fabric.
Nothing to do with the original interior.
Example of a trunk canvas that has been painted over. Regardless of the artistic nature, any painting over canvas depreciates the value of this beautiful ‘Epi’ Louis Vuitton suitcase.
At this stage the value of this bag is depreciated, but who knows maybe in the future the art performed on it may bring value in the art marketplace.
Another common practice has been to customize the canvas by painting lines on Louis Vuitton, Goyard, or even Moynat luggage.
This allowed its owners to quickly locate their luggage placed on carts, cars, diligences, cruise ships, train platforms, etc...
Likewise, another practice consists of customizing the luggage by adding initials, logo, crest or crown, this practice does not impact at all the value of the luggage.
They don’t increase the value either, unless the luggage belonged to someone famous or from noble family.
We estimate that 70% of the so-called "stables" of decorative strips are counterfeited.
We estimate that 99% of crowns or coats of arms are counterfeited.
Bad badge restorers, malicious paint false initials, hotel labels, royal coats of arms or royal crowns ...
The only purpose of these decorations is to deceive the buyer to create a story in the trunk and make it more "authentic" and seductive.
Beware of beautiful stories ...
An easy confusion is customization versus "themed trunks" produced by the manufacturer. These are very different
Example of this 1910s Picnic trunk manufactured by Louis Vuitton which is of high cost.
Example of a 4 shoes suitcase from Goyard
Restored in our workshops (handle and inside canvas renovated with identical configuration as the original state)
Example of a "themed trunk"
manufactured by Louis Vuitton.
It's a shoe trunk, one of the most iconic trunk of the brand. It is also one of the rarest models, which is highly demanded.
Another example here of a "themed trunk"
manufactured by Louis Vuitton.
Interior was completely re-done in our workshops.
Renovation performed is consistent to the original, made with the same kind of materials (leather, coated canvas, wood, nails)
This trunk’s value is completely kept.
Curved trunk often have sentimental value to their owners, but no collectible value at all.
These trunks have no financial value due to their manufacture: too archaic, roughly made, and using wrought iron and raw wood.
Constant Vuiton, has no connection with Louis Vuitton.
Abuse of usual name.
Do not confuse with the trunks vuitton.
Trunks that are stamped E. Rabec are not authentic Louis Vuitton trunks.
E. Rabec was a subcontractor for Louis Vuitton not the original LV manufacture.
The observations contained in this buying guide, are about trunks and collectible onjects only.
And are the results of findings in auction rooms worldwide, experts’ opinion and collectors.