What were or are "paper suitcases"?

In the autobiographies of Harpo and Groucho Marx, there are a few mentions of “paper suitcases”, which evidently were the luggage of choice for the financially not-so-well-endowed. These anecdotes apparently happened mainly between 1900 and 1920.

But what was a paper suitcase? Was it a euphemism used for a simple cardboard box tied up with string? Or did they actually use to make cheap luggage that looked like leather but was only painted to look like leather?

Suitcases made of a pressed paperboard were common into the 40’s and maybe the 50’s. They were often printed to resemble something that might look like a very stylized animal skin, more of a repeating pattern really. They were commonly reinforced on the edges and/or corners w/ metal or some other material and had metal hinges and latches. That type of material was used for other purposes too, I recall the door panels in cars being made from it and covered w/ a cloth that was commonly referred to as “mohair” although it wasn’t really mohair.

Now that A.R. Cane has answered the question…I’ve recently seen some interesting things done with reclaimed old Chinese newspapers. The papers are stacked and pressed so hard the material starts to resemble wood, like in this pencil set.. I’ve seen baskets weaved of rolled-up newespapers, too.

Did you know that people used to wear " paper suits" too? I’ve heard some reference of them, mainly from the war when fabric was scarce and people were hard-pressed to find surrogates. Apparently the material looked fine; it just didn’t took rain very well.

I remember paper dresses. Wasn’t that in the 60’s or 70’s? I think it was just a gimmick though. I don’t recall paper suits, but people were very inventive during WWII because of widespread shortages of materials and much of the manufacturing capacity being devoted to supplying the military, so it wouldn’t surprise me.

I think the paper dresses were in the 1960’s

My father told me about an attractive lass taking her driving test

  • she had no car control, but the dress split
  • she passed.

Other than some ads I’ve only seen on paper dress and that was on Antique Road Show. There from the early 60’s. My parents had a set of the cardboard suitcases. They had a thin layer of plastic on the outside like contact paper.

When my father was in college, he would stuff his dirty laundry into a paper suitcase, and mail it to his mother to wash, dry, iron, and mail back to him.

My dad says when he was in the Navy in the 50’s, they’d go into ports like Subic Bay in Asia and unload their garbage, including washing powder boxes and such (I’m not sure what the garbage procedures were or anything) and within hours the guys in boats trying to sell the soldiers things would be offering cardboard suitcases made out of those very same boxes.

The “Paper Caper,” the nation’s first paper dress, was introduced by Scott Paper in 1966.

My Uncle had a dinette set complete with chairs all made from newspaper and fiber glass. It was quite unique.

Some people use the term “paper suitcase” to refer to putting your clothes in a paper bag (also called paper sack, depending where you are from).

Yeah, I’ve heard that too, sometimes it’s called Alaskan Luggage, Oklahoma Luggage, Redneck Luggage…YMMV.

Brown Baging

Dad used to call that Polish luggage, just to get my mom’s goat (her family is from Poland.) Which is pretty good coming from a man who didn’t own a pair of shoes until he joined the navy.

My mom has one of these that she kept her doll clothes in as a girl. It still has the picture of Van Johnson she pasted into the lid.

Homer and Jethro sang a song that referred to a girl who wore a paper dress to a dance. It caught fire, “burning her sporting section”.

My mom had one. It was essentially a large Handi-Wipe. It was bright orange and yellow flowers…exactly what you’d imagine a '60s print to look like. Can ya *stand * it?

Then there was the guy who went on a date with a girl in a paper dress, and had a ripping good time.

[nitpick]No. Unique means “one and only one.” The dinette set could have been *quite * unusual, or *nearly * unique, but it could not be *quite * unique or *very * unique. [/nitpick]

Sometimes you get events on TV that are paper view.