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They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But the cover, too, has its own story to tell. Over the last century, travel has undergone a dramatic change. And the way we carry our luggage hasn’t escaped the technology revolution. From heavy steamer trunks to four-wheeled spinners, suitcases have come a long way. In the early 19th century, long-distance travel meant having to lug around heavy metal trunks. Then came the suitcase, made of wood and leather with iron frames. The materials kept evolving to make them easier to carry. A slice of this evolution has been captured and preserved by Manjushree Heritage Packaging Museum. Established in Bengaluru in 2003 by Manjushree Technopack Ltd, the museum displays a series of storage options starting from a 100-year-old trunk to suitcases made of wood, metal and cardboard sheets with leather covering, and even a vintage plastic one.
Another vintage item of intrigue is a coal lunchbox from the 1920s. An early version of the modern hot case, this lunchbox is double-walled and has a space for hot coal at the bottom. It’s been designed in such a way that there’s space around the lid for the steam to escape. It’s not a sight for sore eyes, but it looks efficient.
In stark contrast is a glossy red vanity box. Considered fashionable in the 18th and early 19th centuries, they were used by women for their makeup and jewellery, among other things. Made of aluminium and bolstered steel, these weren’t merely a fashion statement but highly durable and functional for air hostesses who travelled frequently.
Besides these, the museum is home to nearly 2,000 artefacts from the realm of 20th-century packaging, including a khukri-shaped rum bottle from 1974, tin cases of Cadbury Fry chocolate, velvet-lined cutlery kits, metal-body cameras cased in leather, army hipflasks and wooden cigar boxes.
The Manjushree Heritage Packaging Museum is located at Unit II, 143, C-5, Bommasandra Industrial Area, Hosur Road, Bengaluru. Contact +91-8071116200 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a private guided tour.
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