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Iain Brunt founder of Antiques.co.uk and gonemodern.com

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Posted by Gill Jones on 11/02/2014

Travel & antiques go together like horse and carriage
If you enjoy travelling and you enjoy antiques, then you may find the two extremely compatible. We’re weeks away from spring now and our minds turn quickly to the thought of holidays, and that all important mini break from work before the longer summer vacation. Collecting travel paraphernalia can range from travel chests to atlases, from travel watches to posters. You can take them with you, or admire them when you get back from your own travels.

Holiday history
Of course holidays didn’t really take off until well into the 19th century with the popularity of seaside resorts. People did travel before then, but not for leisure, this would come much later. First came religious festivals and pilgrimages, and people would often travel to find work. Sometimes, if you travelled for religious reasons, perhaps for a pilgrimage, accommodation might be available along the route.

By the 16th and 17th centuries travel expanded to parts of Europe, but only for those rich enough to afford it; it was seen as a way of rounding off an education. No one else really travelled; there was nowhere to stay, until of course the advent of spas, which came with their own accommodation.

The accommodation provided was more like a hospital than a hotel and were provided for those needing recuperation from a range of illnesses. Spas were seen as places of healing. However, this would change as some spas were by the sea, and this provided ample opportunity to turn the spa visit into more of a leisurely time away. By the mid-18th century trips to seaside spas would become increasingly popular.

By the time the industrial revolution arrived holidays were becoming much more common, with places like Margate and Ramsgate popular destinations for those living in and around London.

Travel in the 21st century
Of course now we travel all the time, abroad as well at home and a break is as good as a rest, each year we bring out those wheelie suitcases and those all-important summer clothes, a travel guide of our destination and a map, maybe even an IPad and a Kindle.

What would holidays have looked like 100 years ago?
If you look at www.antiques.co.uk you’ll see quite a few gems in the travel section that might give you an indication of how people travelled, what they packed and what they packed everything in.

There a few games on here, and an indication as to how people entertained themselves. There’s a large antique signed Jaques travelling chess set from the early part of the 20th century. Then we have another game set which is a rather exquisite Jaques late 20th century reproduction of an 18th century chess set

Travelling desk
If you had quite a few important l

etters to write and business to conduct then you might need to take a travelling desk with you. There are quite a few here, including a Victorian Burr walnut travelling desk and a writing box from the early 1800s made from rosewood, with  tapestry on the inside lid and an inkpot in the centre with two small drawers either side. They may have been more cumbersome than an IPad, but so much prettier. 

Victorian manners
Of course if you’re away for a few days and you’re a lady, then of course you’ll need your vanity case to hand so you can take care of those little details that are oh-so-important. We have a beautiful Victorian travelling toilet set made from Coromandel wood, and contained within are some enchanting glass jars and bottles with a mother of pearl manicure set. 

Of course if you are travelling abroad then of course you need an atlas, or some further reference guides. Here we have an Asprey & Houghton & Gunn miniature reference library dated to around the turn of the century 1900, the volumes consist of an atlas, a book on quotations & proverbs, a French and English dictionary, an encyclopaedia, one copy of French and Latin quotations, another dictionary and one book on classics and mythology.

Of course there are many other travelling companions from the Victorian period and later, which we will be exploring this month. If you have anything in your attic that might attract a collector of travel paraphernalia, then get in touch, you can list them on our site, which has access to a global audience.