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Samsonite

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Samsonite
Samsonite
Years:

1961-1986

The Samsonite Corporation makes luggage, with its products ranging from large suitcases to small toiletry bags and briefcases. It was started in Denver, CO, in 1910 by Jesse Shwayder, as the Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company. Shwayder named one of his initial cases "Samson", after the Biblical strongman. After the success of the Samsonite luggage, the Shwayder Brothers began marketing all of their products under the Samsonite brand by 1941. It wasn’t until 1965 that the company changed its name to the Samsonite Corporation.

Godtfred Kirk Christiansen signed an agreement with King David Shwayder, the son of the founder, and the then-current president of the company . The result was a 9-year license for exclusive North American distribution rights. Shwayder Brothers began marketing sets under the name LEGO by Samsonite in the US in 1961 and Canada in 1962.

Initially, Samsonite manufactured the basic bricks in their existing Stratford, Ontario factory and imported the specialty pieces, such as the trees and HO 1:87 Vehicles, from Billund.

Samsonite Colorado

The original US retail assortment was not the same as the European assortment but was, at least, marketed similarly: they offered a series of sets, including the large 725 Town-Plan and the 717 Junior Constructor, which was unique to Samsonite, as well as several smaller 700 series “Gift Sets” and a number of Supplementary Sets.

In April 1965, Samsonite opened a second plant, a 50,000 ft² facility in Loveland, Colorado, devoted exclusively to LEGO manufacturing and by the mid 1960s Samsonite was marketing an almost completely different assortment than in Europe. A licensing dispute ended the arrangement in the United States in 1972, but Samsonite remained the distributor in Canada until 1986.

List of Sets Produced by Samsonite

Gallery

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