H.J. Cave & Sons

H.J. Cave & Sons is a London-based leather luxury goods company founded in 1839 and regarded by some [1] as the inventor of the luxury leather handbag.[1][2]

H.J. Cave & Sons Ltd
Private / limited liability company
FounderHenry Cave
Key people
Bluff Family
ProductsLuxury goods


The Original Company was established in 1839 as a sole trader, the company is famous [3] for making the Osilite trunk, a strong and light trunk used on the 1933 Everest Expedition[4] and several other adventures. The case won several major prizes in the 19th Century including first prize in Paris in 1867, beating rivals Asprey. The trunk was popular as an early flight case.[5] It is also thought that they could have been earliest pioneers of the modern purse or handbag.[1] it is known that Samuel Parkinson; an industrialist, purchased a handbag in the mid to late 1800s, made of the same leather as the luggage for his wife to use on the train. This is the first record of a designer handbag or purse as in modern use.

It is known that Cave inspired both Louis Vuitton (1857) and a young Guccio Gucci (circa 1910).

Gucci, as an immigrant in London, was impressed with the luxurious luggage he saw hotel guests brought with them and Louis Vuitton had observed that the HJ Cave Osilite trunk could be easily stacked. The H.J. Cave's tote was large enough to hold a baby, thus conferring one of theatre's all-time classic lines on Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest.[6]

The company held a British Royal Warrant of appointment until the 1940s [1] and counts among its customers Ruth Vincent,[7] T. E. Lawrence and Sir Winston Churchill [8] It is well regarded for its bespoke travel cases and leather goods similar to James Purdey & Sons. The company name all but disappeared in the 1940s but production continued in a minor capacity.

The company name has changed hands several times and in the early 21st Century the company was formally resurrected as H.J. Cave & Sons Ltd. It has updated its product line to include more modern designs as well as maintaining their vintage collections.

Famous ownersEdit

Katherine Mansfield [9] Winston Churchill F.D. Roosevelt


  1. ^ a b c d Philippa Stockley. "Philippa Stockley: Yes, the contents mean a lot, but it's the bag that matters most | Commentators | Voices". The Independent. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  2. ^ The Handbag Phenomenon (5 May 2015). "The Handbag Phenomenon". DESIblitz. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  3. ^ Philippa Stockley. "Philippa Stockley: Yes, the contents mean a lot, but it's the bag that matters most | Commentators | Voices". The Independent. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  4. ^ "H.J. Cave & Sons - Official Site". Hjcave.com. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  5. ^ "aero club | ports flying | flying club | 1933 | 0102 | Flight Archive". Flightglobal.com. 13 July 1933. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  6. ^ Lauren Laverne. "Lauren Laverne on style: handbags | Fashion". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  7. ^ "A large suitcase of coffee colour leather, with leather straps and with black and claret painted owner's stripes, monogrammed R.F., the interior fitted with a tray and labelled H.J. Cave and Sons 'Osilite' trademark-31.5 x 18 x 11in. (80 x 46 x 26cm.); another matching smaller case-29 x 17 x 10in. (74 x 43 x 25.5cm.); and a smaller lightweight case, the interior labelled as above-24 x 13.75 x 6in. (61 x 35 x 15cm.), 1930s (3)". Christies.com. 25 January 2000. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  8. ^ "The Churchill Papers: A catalogue". Archives.chu.cam.ac.uk. 16 October 1909. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  9. ^ "H J Cave & Sons, trunk and portmantea... | Items | National Library of New Zealand". Natlib.govt.nz. January 1918. Retrieved 21 June 2016.