1882 Duluth Pack for sale – $50,000

Duluth Pack 1882 Duluth Pack Poirier

On eBay:

1882 Duluth PATD “Poirier Pack Strap Sack” Backpack Bag
Vintage Leather & Canvas Bag Camille Poirer Rucksack

Item condition: Pre-owned
Price: US $50,000

26 Comments

Nobody

about 11 years ago

It was listed on eBay for $100,000 a month or two ago.  I sent a question to the seller asking about the documentation s/he had about the age/history of the pack.  No response.

Paul Lundgren

about 11 years ago

There is certainly no shortage of historical background in the product description:

October 11, 1882 - Camille Poirier himself applied/filed for the patent.

November 10, 1882 - Date on the metal plate of the Prototype Strap Pack in this auction.

December 12, 1882 - Actual Letter of Official Patent.

Duluth Pack has its deep historic roots in a poor French-Canadian named Camille Poirier. Poirier came to the struggling village of Duluth in 1870 with very little more than a dream of making boots and shoes. In fact, according to many sources, he came into the village with a "little stock of leather and tools," and that's where he began a small shoe store in 1884 (the bag basically being invented pre-shop). The intent of the bag at the time was to carry large loads up and down the vast hills of Duluth without putting total strain on the back (his invention of the tumpline is best known on this bag which now has universal appeal in the hiking and climbing community).

This bag was made before Poirier even had his boot and shoe shop located at 1 W. Superior St., Norris Block, built in 1884. Camille Poirier's shoe shop was one of the four buildings on the upper side of Superior Street, west of Lake Avenue, making up the oldest section of Old Downtown Duluth, all built in the 1880s. This is where Poirier patented and invented the "Poirier Pack Sack." The significance of this pack is the date on the hand-tooled handmade brass oval plate of Nov. 10, 1882, which was handmade by Camille Poirier himself, basically a prototype strap pack before his actual patent date on Dec. 12 1882. The actual patent was granted in Duluth on Dec. 12, 1882. The bag itself was a success and led Poirier to invent and to file a patent on December 12, 1882 for a "Pack Strap" that entirely changed the design of pack sacks. The Patent No. is 268,932. 

According to the patent filed by Poirier, he "invented a new and improved Pack-Strap for holding and packing articles of clothing, provisions, and other articles which are to be carried in a package on the back. The invention consists in a bag formed with a flap and provided with shoulder straps and head-strap for supporting and carrying the bag on the back."

In this bag's amazing design, Poirier was credited with the "tumpline" which is a strap attached at both ends to a backpack and used to carry the object by placing the strap over the top of the head. Later on Poirier's design came to be called the "Duluth Pack" after the village in which Poirier ran his business. 

The "Pack Strap" was a canvas sack that closed with a buckled flap, had new-fangled shoulder straps in addition to the traditional tumpline. In 1911, Camille sold off the pack business to the new Duluth Tent and Awning Company. At the time of this listing, Duluth Pack Company was contacted and a representative of the company said the earliest Pack they had was received by donation from an Australian and this was the Auto (Car) Pack. That pack was dated in the 1920s and the "Pack Strap" up for auction is many years older than that. There are no known "Poirier Pack Strap Sacks" left in existence so this is a truly original and a one-of-a-kind rare item. It is believe this bag is the original patent design prototype because of the three stitch marks above the patent date where the umbrella leather loop would sit. The bags that Poirier sold in his store were stamped in ink "Poirier Duluth Back Strap" in this location on the front flap.

The Pack Strap listed is in excellent usable condition if one really wanted to use and wear a piece of history like this. This pack is usable, just as durable as the day Poirier  handmade it. This is why the pack is very original and expensive, because it's a piece of North Shore history, Gitchi Gummi BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) trail! There are places on the bag that were repaired and stitched (you can tell there was very old patchwork done). Because of how rare the bag is and its contributions to the camping and hiking world, I am selling the bag as is. The dimensions are: 28 inches wide by 28 inches tall. All straps and buckles work and are functional. The metal buttons do have green oxidation on them as expected for a bag of this age. 

More information on tumplines. They are often used to transport heavy loads across uneven terrain such as footpaths and portages. The Voyageurs of the North American fur trade used tumplines exclusively to carry their cargo of pelts and rations across portages. Tumplines should not be worn over the forehead, but rather the top of the head just back from the hairline, pulling straight down in alignment with the spine. The person then leans forward, allowing the back to help support the load. A Tumpline is a strap attached at both ends to a backpack or other luggage and used to carry the object by placing the strap over the top of the head.

Thanks to everyone that commented and have wrote me that this bag should be offered to a museum for historical purposes and for the contribution to the city of Duluth. I have contacted both the Historical Society of Duluth and MHS and they would like to exhibit the piece. Even though I would like nothing more than to donate this amazing piece (for which, I am also an avid camping and hiking enthusiast), they are offering no compensation for this family heirloom in a special time of need.

heysme

about 11 years ago

Puts my ol' trusty pack to shame! Good luck selling it for that much.

edgeways

about 11 years ago

Yeah, it's cool and all, but I'd be surprised if the Antiques Road Show would put the value at 50K.

wetclimber

about 11 years ago

Dang. My Duluth Pack barely last 10 years. The shelf value rose $40 over those years. Must reflect the value of one 130 year old.

Tony D.

about 11 years ago

He contacted the Historical Society of Duluth? There's no such thing.

dbb

about 11 years ago

Oh wow. Free shipping!

mevdev

about 11 years ago

Sentimentality = $1.07/day.

A 50K backpack, brought to you by the people that estimated the value of the Norshor, ran the numbers of the Aquarium pre-building, and that say every year UMD will not raise tuition (again).

mevdev

about 11 years ago

wetclimber,

Duluth Pack will give you a new pack if your old one is worn out. I've seen it happen multiple times.

TimK

about 11 years ago

At least Mevdev didn't say North Shore, so NorShor seems a little PicKy.

mevdev

about 11 years ago

Sorry, my mind was in a rush coming east from Lincoln Park up Mesabi Ave.

Nobody

about 11 years ago

Paul- Of course, there is lots of historical information about the Duluth Pack in the eBay listing...it just isn't clear that the information is actually referring to the pack shown and not just a copy and paste (similar to yours) from references about Duluth Packs in general.

I wanted to know the history of who has owned the pack for sale (was it bought by the seller's great-grandfather and then passed down through the family, won in a gun battle on the Gunflint Trail, someone won it in a poker game, etc.) and what information/documentation there is to show that it is authentic.

Paul Lundgren

about 11 years ago

Ol' Mevdev is taking a beating today on spelling corrections. Poor guy.

Nobody, it seems like I was responding to your comment earlier, but I wasn't. I started writing it before yours was published and finished writing it after yours was already up. I see your point.

mevdev

about 11 years ago

Well, I made the last comment on porpoise. I was literally on a small dolphin.

To clarify for everyone, I live in West End and I drive on Mesaba Ave.

Tony D.

about 11 years ago

Methinks Mevdev planted that last one, to see if he got a Mesabi spelling correction or a bitch slap for writing "Lincoln park" instead of "West End."

Well played, sir. Well played.

Swan

about 11 years ago

Yes, there is a lengthy description but no provenance (history of ownership and proof of authenticity). Anyone can list anything for any price, but it does not mean it will sell. 

My Duluth packs are 10 years old and I would never sell them.

Julian

about 11 years ago

That's interesting that Duluth Pack was in the 1 W. Superior St building back then! I spent a lot of time in that building in the original Bead Harbor days. As with the rest of downtown, the basement is mysterious, vast, connected to who knows where, probably full of asbestos, definitely full of deadly chemicals and mildew, and overall, is terrifying.

Vicki O

about 11 years ago

As one of the current owners of Duluth Pack (and a former classmate of Paul) I can tell you the history of this pack is very much desired.  I have forwarded the e-Bay listing to my husband who is the CFO/co-owner of Duluth Pack and will try to give an update if contact is made.  BTW, Duluth Pack had no affiliation to the NorShor, Aquarium or tuition at UMD.  It's a privately owned company that just uses the name "Duluth" in its title.

hbh

about 11 years ago

While I understand that you are in a "time of need" and it must be frustrating to possess something so valuable in a historical sense, it is unfortunately unlikely that you will get the kind of money you hope for. 

And public historical entities and museums typically don't pay for things--things are donated to them out of a civic sense of duty and a desire to share history/art/culture with the community at large. It is ultimately an act of great civic participation, not getting a payday. 

The reason things are donated to them, quite often, by the way, is also that there comes a point where something is so priceless in its uniqueness or sentimentality that there is no way to *get* paid what it's worth in a financial sense. 

Good luck.

hbh

about 11 years ago

Unless of course, the corporation still using the name wants to purchase it and sees it as a valuable asset. :-)

Vicki O

about 11 years ago

Wow, tough board for people to understand.  NO, I don't own the pack in question, I am part owner of the COMPANY Duluth Pack.  I AM part of the corporation still using the name.  I have forwarded the information to my husband, who is the current CFO of Duluth Pack, to bring it to their attention.  No, we definitely wouldn't purchase it for what the seller is asking but the historical information is very valuable to us.

Will

about 11 years ago

Actually, mevdev, Duluth Pack won't replace a worn-out pack. If it's a tear in the canvas, they say they're not responsible for the canvas. If it is a zipper that is broken, they say they're not responsible for the zippers. (Both happened to me, and both times I had to pay to get it fixed) Basically the only thing that's covered is stitching. 

In all fairness, after the third repair to my pack, they sold me a new one at a 50 percent discount.

mevdev

about 11 years ago

Will, yes, the packs I saw replaced were related to the leather and the stitching/rivets. I'm sure there is a more official version out there. I've had mine for a long time and have bought them as gifts since then too.

Vicki O

about 11 years ago

Duluth Pack will not cover a tear in the canvas due to usage but we do cover ALL hardware and the craftsmanship of the bag, although hardware, such as zippers, are handled on a case by case basis.  We cannot cover every zipper that wears out from  use, only if it is defective.  We will put in a new zipper at minimal cost.  Since the new owners have taken over Duluth Pack you can check out our expanded website and sign up for our mailing list at www.duluthpack.com . . .

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