Carry-on: Wheelies

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In the 10th century, the first known wheeled baggage appears in the form of weaponry carts used by the Templar Knights during the Crusades. A typical auxiliary trunk contained swords, sword-sharpening tools, as well as chain mail and shoe-mending tools.

Nearly a millennium later, during the British Raj the Maharani of Nadir arrives at the annual Howrah Durbar (an official reception) atop a wheeled, elephant-drawn portmanteau-armoire-type carry-all. A British colonel draws up a sketch inspired by her impressive luggage and applies to London for a patent. Though the colonel’s patent application is lost, a month later Queen Victoria graciously awards her husband Prince Albert three gold medals for his invention, the “Travelling Carry-All, Omni-Conveyance, Bewheeled.”

Rather like the man purses or fanny packs of today, wheeled luggage was ridiculed in early 1900s. Popular belief thought it only fitting for women, as men were deemed strong enough to not need a helping hand – or set of wheels – to tote their baggage.

Then finally, after decades of a maligned reputation, a defiant Trans World airline pilot made a show in 1969 at New York’s J.F.K. Airport, where he was seen pulling a small, wheeled overnight bag. With that, he rolled into history.

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