Caroline C. Morris
One of the best parts about summer road-tripping is accumulating flotsam and jetsam from everywhere you visit. Gideon and Ellen Hixon knew something about that, as evidenced by the incredible collections now on display in the Hixon House. But perhaps they accumulated a few too many novelties during their first European vacation in the summer of 1884, because they found themselves at no. 1 Rue Scribe, the Parisian address of Louis Vuitton.
By the time the Hixons needed his services, Louis Vuitton had mastered the twin arts of creating finely-crafted luxury luggage, and making wealthy clients want to pay high prices for them. His trunks, with aged poplar frames and hand-stretched leather, were the gold standard among wealthy travelers. It appears as though Gideon Hixon paid 60 francs for the trunk and 10 francs for a strap to haul it. The porter who lugged the trunk around didn’t make that much money in a month. Wanamaker’s department store, the only purveyor of Louis Vuitton goods in the United States in the late nineteenth century, advertised the item as “rather a high-priced trunk, but worth every cent that is asked for it.” If the Hixons’ European treasures made it home in one piece in their new trunk – and there’s no evidence to the contrary – they would probably have agreed.
This article was originally featured in the La Crosse Tribune.