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Mail Bag! Errol Flynn: It’s in the Bag?

28 Jan

Tis a bit of a puzzle, as always, with dear ol’ Errol! Shari Lee and her husband Rob write to us:

Hello,

While researching Mr. Flynn I ran across your email address. I’m hoping you can provide some guidance. My husband has what we are sure is a piece of Mr. Flynn’s luggage.  We are trying to find someone who can authenticate this for us. We do have pictures. Please let me know if you can help!

This piece of luggage has been to many places, it looks like it has been to japan, hawaii. Scandinavia, egypt, switzerland, france, austria, GB, pennsylvania, Ohio, Yellowstone, Argentina, Columbia, Barbados for sure. The franks and stamps are mostly in foreign language and we can’t interpret. The Japanese stamps are cuneiform. The airline stickers are Matson, Western, NPA, and a Scandinavian line that depicts an early seaplane. The luggage piece checks out as period correct. It appears to be colored hide over wood construction with gun metal brass hardware. It has very nice age patina with scuffs and handling wear and is quite nice looking. The amulet inside is fairly large and we believe is solid copper. If any more photos or info is needed let us know.

All I have is my camera on this phone. My husband researched all of the stickers and he is pretty certain they are authentic to the period. Not re-pop’s. It was acquired from an older person who had it in storage for several decades. Prior to that it was used as a stage prop in a folk group.

Here is what we see:

A label that says 1939 National Air Races, Cleveland,  OH September 2,3,4
A destination label that says French Line, S.S. Champlain sailed 23 July 1939 destination Hotel – Ritz.

A destination label that says Cunard Line RMS Queen Mary First Class, deck and room  A 23 sailing 6-8-1938, New York to South Hampton c/o Lady Julian (?) Windham, London England.

One with his name is Cooks Nile Service,  S.S. Delta, along with another one that says Hastings Barbados Marine Hotel Ste. 22 , with a stamp that says Coral Bay-Marine. He stayed at Eastern Exchange Hotel Port Said Egypt per one label.

There are about 26 stickers and 2 postage stamps affixed to the exterior and numerous franks and custom stamps. The travel stickers are both air and sea. This is a carry-on size piece of luggage.

Thanks, Shari

 

 

Thank you, Shari & Ron!

Now, can any of you Flynn Detectives match Errol’s travels to this beatiful vintage travel bag?

 

— David DeWitt

 

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  1. Gentleman Tim

    January 29, 2018 at 2:34 am

     
  2. Gentleman Tim

    January 29, 2018 at 2:38 am

    Wow, Shari & Ron, this is Fascinating. I’m on my cell and can’t perfectly discern all the details of your photos at the moment, but I can see the compelling French and Cunard Line labels with Errol’s typewritten name on them.

    One way to begin confirming the provenance of whether this very cool piece of luggage was used by Errol would be to establish whether he was at the National Air Races in 1939. It was such a narrow window of days (May 2-5, 1939) that, if Errol was there, it would very powerfully serve to evidence his connection to the luggage.

    Sars did attend the National Air Races. I’ve seen photos of Jimmy Stewart, Ginger Rogers, and Jean Harlow there.I do not recall seeing a photo of Errol there, but have read that he was, date unspecified. The 1939 Races, won by Roscoe Turner, was the last bevfore World War II, so the year(s) Errol did attend waa probably in the late Thirties.

    You may want to look closely at this video (and the one in color following it on YouTube)to see if Flynn pops up.

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    • Gentleman Tim

      January 29, 2018 at 6:21 am

      From “September’s Eagles: The Cleveland National Air Races” by Paul Rohrbaugh.

      In addition to Jimmy, Ginger, and Jean:

      “Three Stooges, Marx Brothers, Clark Gable, Errol Flynn were just a few of the movie stars and other celebrities to put in appearances.”

      The+Cleveland+National+Air+Races,+1929-1949+Paul+Rohrbaugh,+©2012.jpg

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    • David DeWitt

      January 30, 2018 at 1:41 am

      Harlow, as forthcoming new Subscriber Peter Mulholland emailed me, died in 1937 so could not have attended in 1939. Perhaps she was there in earlier years.

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      • Gentleman Tim

        February 2, 2018 at 5:10 am

        Yes, correct Peter. The photo of Jean Harlow is not from the ’39 show, nor is the one of Jimmy and Ginger.

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  3. David DeWitt

    January 29, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    I know that Errol was in Malaysia in 1933. Ships sailed in 1933 include to Hong Kong May 7 aboard S.S. Frederun. S.S. D’Artagnan May 9 to Saigon, Singapore on May 15, and Columbo, May 19. Suez, June 14 at sea, June 15 at sea for Marseille aboard S.S. Compiegne.

    1936, Errol is in Hollywood filming Another Dawn in September.

    1937, boards Queen Mary February 24th from New York to Cherboug, and is in London, March 5 with small suitcase. March 20, 1937 was in Paris with the same suitcase. Barcelona, March 26. Valencia, March 31. Albacete, April 1. Madrid, April 2. Guadalahara, April 3.

    September 20, 1938, Errol works with Bette David on the film The Sisters.

    This info comes from the book Errol Flynn/Dr. Herman F. Erben: A Friendship of Two Adventurers 1933-1940.

    suitcase

    Note: Copy of his book Beam Ends in the suitcase

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  4. timerider

    January 29, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    How cool is this?! What a find, if it is Errol’s but if not who?
    Interesting and something to research and write about in any case. A great subject for a book dontcha think?

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  5. Paula

    January 29, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    This is really exciting. If anybody can figure all this out, it’s you all.

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  6. Gentleman Tim

    January 29, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    Superb, David. Are there any photos available which would allow for a comparison between the handle and interior fabric pattern of Shari & Ron’s luggage with what you just posted with Errol and Beam Ends? … That handle looks rather unique to me.

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    • David DeWitt

      January 30, 2018 at 1:45 am

      More photo coming but the interior is different from the one used for the trip to the Spanish Civil War. This only means their suitcase is a different one likely owned by Flynn. I am traveling so will post them tomorrow night.

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  7. Gentleman Tim

    January 29, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    I believe the “amulet” depicts St. Isaac’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

    st-petersburg-isaac-xlarge.jpg

    splendid-interior-of-st-isaacs-cathedral-in-st-petersburg.jpg

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  8. Gentleman Tim

    January 30, 2018 at 8:36 am

    Does anyone know if and when waa Errol in Japan? I can’t imagine him not visiting, but when would it have been – before or after the War?

    Here is the Kawana Hotel, founded in 1928, a peninsula paradise with Mount Fuji behind it. Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe stayed there in ’54.

    full-view-kawana-hotel1.jpg

    And here is an old luggage label from Miyako Hotel in Kyoto. Marlon Brando was there during filming of Sayonara for Warner Brothers.

    “The famous Miyako Hotel, occupying a 55,000-square-meter plot of choice forested land in one of Kyoto’s most popular tourist areas, opened with 18 guest rooms in 1898. The hotel has long been the preferred stopping place of the rich and famous, particularly foreigners, since it opened. Today, the hotel, though largely renovated, continues to exude the style and quality of service it has always been known for, and is still widely regarded to be the finest hotel in the city.”

    – Historical Dictionary of Osaka and Kyoto, Ian Martin Röpke, 1999

    2ef88e13d22954accc8a23754d1f66e1.jpg

    “The famous Miyako Hotel, occupying a 55,000-square-meter plot of choice forested land in one of Kyoto’s most popular tourist areas, opened with 18 guest rooms in 1898. The hotel has long been the preferred stopping place of the rich and famous, particularly foreigners, since it opened. Today, the hotel, though largely renovated, continues to exude the style and quality of service it has always been known for, and is still widely regarded to be the finest hotel in the city.”

    – Historical Dictionary of Osaka and Kyoto, Ian Martin Röpke, 1999

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  9. David DeWitt

    January 31, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Bad chest cold slowing me down …

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  10. Ada Klock

    January 31, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    After looking at some of the times and dates on the bag, I have some conflict with the possibility of this suitcase actually belonging to Mr. Flynn.

    Since Errol was playing in the Film Players Tennis Tournament on June 8, 1938 in Cal… and he was with his sister and parents on Santa Catalina on July 23, 1939, arriving back atl at the Wilmington docks on the 24th.… and he has never been in Russia…

    I do not believe this is Flynn’s suitcase. But it has a lot of cool nostalgic stuff on it.

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    • David DeWitt

      January 31, 2018 at 3:55 pm

      There is a posibility that used as a stage prop, other stickers were added to it? But places and dates are important to figuring this out.

      More details about the stickers coming doon …

      I am just to sick right now to do any more!

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      • timerider

        January 31, 2018 at 4:47 pm

        I prey you get well soon David! Gobs of VIT C and try finding some Osha root and black cherry bark, echinacea etc etc.
        Brutal weather this year on the east coast. I’ve been watching the temps, much colder than usual
        Family has been sick also..

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  11. shangheinz

    January 31, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    [Image Removed by Admin]

    Errol did visit Austria once to my knowledge. It was probably there, where he bought this leather jacket with a badge of mountainous Tyrol on it. If there is a sticker on the baggage from there too, I`d love to see it and give you my 2 Euros worth opinion on it.

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    • David DeWitt

      February 2, 2018 at 4:42 am

      Thanks, I am going to post a detailed description of the stickers. Sorry, I had to remove your image!

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  12. David DeWitt

    February 2, 2018 at 4:44 am

    This from Rob:

    Hi David, I hope you’re doing OK. I saw the blog posts re: the suitcase. I have gathered some other info through some internet sleuthing and wanted to share it with you. First I wanted to let you know that I don’t believe this suitcase is any sort of purposefully constructed prop nor am I pulling anybodies leg. The stickers on the case are all very old and show signs of decades of degeneration, i.e., fading, scuffing, and most tell tale, dye bleeding through from the skin which is part of a lengthy aging process. I don’t think this is and elaborate fake, as I don’t believe too many people would have the resources to manufacture the frank stamps and fake the info on some of the stickers. Sorry if I don’t separate paragraphs. The pendant or amulet inside appears to be some commemoration of CZAR Peter the Great’s marriage to Catherine, or his establishment of a new church in St. Petersburg in 1724. The sticker of the aircraft over Scandinavia and Russia is an early sticker of the predecessor of FINNAIR; Aero O/Y became FINNAIR in the 1930’s. The sticker of Barbados at the top of the case has an oval ink stamp that is Russian language and is probably related to the travel that included Finland. Let me know if anybody wants a close-up photo and I will forward. Regarding the Cunard Line (Queen Mary), I verified that I read the date correct and it does read “sailing 6.8.1939”. I’m wondering if the ship might not have been the Queen Elizabeth (?). Was it sailing at that time? The name of the ship is obscured by a postage stamp that has been overlaid and is in the final stages of deterioration. However the frank on the stamp is mostly legible and it is the same frank on the Republique Francois stamp on the Brown’s Hotel sticker. More on the stamp and frank in a little bit. The address of Lady Julia Windham checks out as a real residence at Grosvenors Square. I can’t find anything yet on Julia Windham, but 27 Grosvenors Square was occupied by the long term owners up until 1938 at which time it appears it was no longer resided in by the Gents widow. There is no listing of occupants after some date in 1938. Back to the stamps. What i believe these stamps are is forward baggage by postal service from France and I have been able to decipher the franks as meaning they are official “ALCALDIA” (Mayor or city) local Spanish government franks and that the destination of the baggage was the Santa Ana depot near San Sebastian and the resort beach(s) in Spain. I count enough stickers from the US liners for at least one trip from New York to Hamburg (S.S. Washington) and one trip New York to London (Queen Mary(?)) and return for both trips. The travel to Hawaii and Japan was most probably on NYK lines. There is a story being told here and I don’t know what it is. If it’s certain that Mr. Flynn could not have traveled on the dates/times that are on the case, then could somebody else have been using this suitcase also? Perhaps his wife or a friend using his name and influence. Does anybody know of someone that can perhaps do some simple forensic tests on it in the L.A. CA neighborhood? Thanks David. I hope you don’t have the flu. Rob

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    • Gentleman Tim

      February 2, 2018 at 9:43 am

      Excellent work, Rob. Much to mull over. For the record, the Church on the “amulet” is St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg. St. Isaac was Peter the Great’s patron saint, after whom he built the original St. Isaac’s Russian Orthodox Church, a wooden structure I believe, where, in May 1724, his second wife Catherine (Mother of Catherine the Great) was coronated co-ruler of Russia.

      How St. Isaac’s Cathedral may connect to Errol I do not know. Though Errol did at least once (and likely many times) specifically expess that he wanted to visit Russia, I don’t know of any evidence that he ever made it there. But who really ever knows with Flynn.

      If, however, Errol did make it to St. Petersburg (or, rather, Leningrad), it would be no surprise that he visited St. Isaac’s, which is said to be one of the most beautiful and imposing architectural masterpieces in all of Russia. Whether and why he would travel with such an amulet is a Flynnian-mystery to me.

      205px-Empress_Catherine_I_-c.1724_-3.jpg

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  13. David DeWitt

    February 2, 2018 at 4:55 am

    FRONT OR TOP OF CASE from left to right upper row:

    HOTEL UNIVERSAL ANEXO RESTAURANT CITY ROSARIO, ARGENTINA
    BROWNS HOTEL LONDON-OVERLAID WITH POSTAGE STAMP IN LOWER LEFT. Stamp is franked in place; female bust “Republique Francios”, POSTES, 15c. Partial reading of frank is “Alcadia” “San Sebastian”- see frank on stamp on CUNARD LINE sticker.

    NEXT ROW-FRENCH LINE-S.S. CHAMPLAIN-Passengers Name Mr. Errol Flynn-Sailing 23 July 1939-Cabin some obscured no.s then 1 and then 27A-Final destination Hotel Ritz Paris. Has been stamped by U.S. CUSTOMS and obscures some info on cabin.

    AERO O/Y-This in a form of cursive and the O’s are unique. Picture of early seaplane in flight over map of Scandinavia and Western Russia (Leningrad). MIYAKO HOTEL Kyoto Japan-Stamped “LUGGAGE” and a rectangular box with cuneiform that I think means “LUGGAGE”-I will send more in follow-up email. There are 26 stickers.

    BACK OR BOTTOM OF CASE-LEFT TO RIGHT FROM TOP.

    ROYAL PICARDY-Le Plus bel Hotel Du Monde-Le Toquet
    From THE EASTERN EXCHANGE HOTEL, Port Said-Hold For Arrival-Mr. Errol Flynn-Will arrive aboard Cairo Express about 2 P.M. Large stamp in Arabic that I think means “LUGGAGE”.

    HASTINGS BARBADOS MARINE HOTEL BWI-Mr. Errol Flynn Suite 22 Coral Bay-Marine.

    NEXT ROW DOWN-HOTEL DE PARIS BANARAS (India). Large and colorful.
    1939 NATIONAL AIR RACES CLEVELAND Sept 2.3.4

    WESTERN AIRLINES in scalloped blue arrowhead.

    NEXT ROW DOWN-COOKS NILE SERVICE-Box in lower left-Milo: Hold mail please-S.S. DELTA (DELTA is stamped) Box in lower right-Mr. Errol Flynn-Cabin A-12.

    There is “RIO DE JANIERO” ink stamped and another large one in Arabic that I think means “LUGGAGE”.7.CUNARD LINE STATEROOM BAGGAGE-Name-Mr. Errol Flyn (second “n” obscured by overlaid postage stamp)-Ship HMS Queen …(rest obscured by postage stamp and frank)-Class 1-Deck and Room-A-23-Sailing 6.8.1938-Eurpean Address c/o Lady Julia Windham 27 Grosvenor Square London England. Has a U.S. CUSTOMS stamp and First Class stamp. It is overlaid with a very faded stamp that’s unreadable, but appears to have the same frank as the one on BROWNS. I can read more and can clearly see MUNICH and “Depto Santa Ana” in small print in center.

    VILLARS SUISSE-Villars Palace-Grand Hotel-Muveran-Hotel Bellevue.
    NEXT ROW DOWN-HONOLULU NYK LINE WORLD WIDE SERVICE-“RIO DE JANEIRO” is stamped on it and it appears to be partially hand trimmed.

    KAWANA HOTEL Ito Japan-two rectangular ink stamps in cuneiform that look same as on MIYAKO HOTEL Sticker. These are all that are on the front-

    NEXT ROW DOWN:

    HOTEL SATURNIA & INTERNATIONAL VENEZIA-w. First Class stamp.

    MIYAKO HOTEL Kyoto City Japan. Has ink stamp of TOKIO. I instead of Y. Different style of sticker than other MIYAKO.

    MATSON LINES HAWAII

    NEXT ROW DOWN (LOWEST STICKER)-S.S. WASHINTON UNITED STATES LINE-The American way to travel to and from Europe.

    BOTTOM OF CASE:

    One sticker only-UNITED STATES LINE First Class-Anchor and Shield with a prominent “D” in the middle. There are a few more coming. Cont’d-

    LEFT SIDE FACING FRONT-TOP TO BOTTOM:

    Triangular MIYAKO HOTEL Kyoto Japan w. First Class stamp. Another different style.

    UNITED STATES LINES First Class w. prominent “E” in middle of anchor and shield.

    AVIANCA AEROVIAS NACIONALES DE COLUMBIA-Depicts four prop airliner in clouds.

    RIGHT SIDE FACING FRONT-TOP TO BOTTOM:

    FIVE DISTINCTIVE RESTAURANTS THE PENN HARRIS HARRISBURG, PA

    NPA CARRIED BY AIR NATIONAL PARKS AIRWAYS, INC. UTAH IDAHO MONTANA.

    This is everything on the exterior and hope this will guide you as you look at the suitcase from all perspectives. I don’t think there’s any fakery here as this has a very old patina and would be quite difficult to fake all the stamps and franks. Without going back to the previous emails, I think I may have forgotten to include info on the BARBADOS sticker. It has an oval stamp that is crytic to me, appears Russian. Anyway, this is a list of what I know about these destinations.

    The Japanese hotels were golf resorts as was Villars. The S.S. Champlain sank in 1940 or 1941 after hitting a mine. The Royal Picardy was seized by the Nazis in 1939. The S.S. DELTA was Cook’s off season paddle wheeler on the Nile. NPA Airlines was bought by American (?) in 1937 or ’38.

    Thanks, Rob

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