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Ready for Takeoff

November 23, 2012

In 1918, the Shwayder brothers of Denver began to manufacture a newfangled kind of luggage called the “suit case.” Facing no shortage of competition from more established trunk makers, Jesse Shwayder cooked up a brilliant name and a marketing gimmick. He called the suitcase “Samson” (named after the Biblical muscle man) then put out an advertisement showing the three brothers—1,000 lbs., the lot of them—standing on the case. No dummies, those Shwayder boys. Advertising the strength of the luggage is what helped to make Samsonite (the name the suitcases carried by 1939) the leading luggage brand in America.

But as the ads on these pages make clear, strengt

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