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Our recent sale of a Louis Vuitton leather box for £14,500 reminded me of how a simple idea can change the world. With Vuitton that simple idea was to change the shape of trunk lids from rounded to flat in the 1850s. While rounded lids allowed rainwater to run off, the trunks could not be stacked, so making the most of storage space on carriages, trains and ships was a problem.

Of course, Louis Vuitton’s success can be attributed to far more than this initial idea, but it is what got his brand going and it sparked many imitators.
In fact, such was the drive to pass other, lesser imitations off as Vuitton originals, even from the earliest days, that the company had to keep devising new branding to protect itself. First came the beige and brown stripes, then the Damier Canvas pattern with logo reading marque L. Vuitton déposée, and then the quatrefoils and flowers pattern, along with LV monogram, which largely did the trick.

Needless to say, the counterfeiters have struck back in recent years, but it says a great deal about the quality and standing of the originals that crooks put so much effort into creating imitations.