Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Train Case

When I was a little girl my mom would bring her hard sided blue Samsonite train case on every vacation.  When you unlatched and opened it, you had yourself a mini vanity for the road.  The mirror lid on the inside was a necessity when you needed to touch up your makeup or hair.  There was a removable plastic tray on top that had several compartments that could hold all sorts of small makeup and toiletry items.  Once you lifted out the plastic tray from the case, there was room for more; stockings, scarfs, gloves, and even a nightgown.  The little pockets along the insides of the case made it even more helpful to keep organized.  I thought this was the coolest suitcase ever, and I remember how excited I was when I finally got one of my own (mine was a maroon color).  

Passenger train travel began in the 1830’s, but at first it was not a glamorous form of travel.  It wasn’t until 1890 when the first luxury train hit the rails.  By the early 1920's, train travel was at an all-time high.  Between the mid 1940’s and the mid 1960’s, the trains became even more luxurious. They added restaurants, lounges, sleeping cars, and dome cars.  It was a very popular and romantic way to travel.
The train case got its name simply because it was originally used mainly when traveling by rail.  I love seeing the women in the old movies when they are on vacation.  They're always shown with their hard sided train case.
Little girls were not any different during that time period. Back in 1961, Mattel introduced the first train case for little girls to put their things in for travel.  These cases didn’t have the compartments or removable tray, but they did have the mirror lid.   Some girls used them to carry their Barbie items exclusively, and others packed things for an overnight trip to a friend’s house.  These shiny vinyl cases with the zip around lid were manufactured by Ponytail, which was licensed under Mattel.  They all have various pictures of Barbie and friends on the front.
1962 Train Case
Mattel also had a four piece plastic Samsonite luggage set for Barbie, and yes, it included the train case.  Her case didn’t have the mirror lid, but it did have the plastic removable tray.  I’ve seen the set in red, white, lime green, teal, blue, cream, and pink.  I owned the red set as a little girl, and played with it all the time!
Barbie's Train Case from her four piece luggage set


  1. I remember these too! My mother owned one, she was born in the 40's & used it for toiletries & such when traveling. I found a yellow one at a local thrift & it has the tray, I use mine to hold my scarves. I hope to find that lovely Barbie one some day!!!

  2. Exclusive post.. thanks for sharing.


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