Insall (Born 1829)Insall were proud to advertise their established date of 1829 on their labels and they are considered to be one of the best trunk and luggage makers from the West country. It is likely that the business was founded by George Insall who was recorded as a trunk maker in 1837. Some earlier examples of the company's work have labels giving the name as G. Insall and the address as 19 St. Augustine's Parade, Bristol.
In 1856, the business is still recorded in the local directories as G. Insall but by 1865, William Insall took over the running of the business and it bore his name. At this date George was living at 9 Kingsdown Parade and William was living at Cotham Park Villa, Cotham Road. It is also interesting to note that the 1865 directory states that Insall, aside from making luggage, were Travelling Equipage Manufacturers. William was later joined in the family business by his sons and the name was changed to reflect this.
The shop premises expanded to incorporate number 20 at some time in the second half of the 19th century and certainly the double fronted building would have stood out in the street with it's 4 floors and classical columns to the sides of the middle two. The Insalls are said to have made the most of their premises with the company name and their business of luggage and trunk makers in large letters to the top floors. The building is now occupied by Boots the Chemist.
Insall were very similar to many other trunk makers in the range of goods that they offered and noted on their labels and adverts. Folding Portmanteaus, Improved Coat Bags, Improved Treble Folding, Portmanteaus, Improved Coat Bags, Hat Case & Carpet Bags are all listed, and some illustrated. One item they did make which stands out from most other manufacturers is Waterproof Enamel'd-Leather Bags. In addition to the above, as might be expected they also fitted trunks to carriages at short notice and took in old trunks as part exchange or to repair. Their earlier labels also stated that their trunks were strong enough for the military.
A further line to their labels shows that they also offered goods at Wholesale & For Exportation. This would tie in with a number of boot trunks we have had in the past that bare Insall's name along with other businesses. We have seen WH Thompson, Leicester on two such trunks and one also had the addition of the name John Cave & Sons, Rushden engraved to a brass plate to the trunk's top. It could be that Thompson was a boot maker and Cave a retailer.
Insall used various methods of marking their luggage over their history. A number of different paper labels were used to the lid interiors but they also stamped their name into the leather hide; engraved ivorine labels and gilt stamped leather labels are also known to have been used.
The business was still listed at 19 St. Augustine's Parade in 1914 but it is likely that it ended between the wars. The methods and speed of travel had changed dramatically and the need for strong, heavy leather luggage had decreased. As you might expect of a port, Bristol had a number of different luggage and trunk makers throughout the 19th century but the name Insall stands out from all the rest for their quality and longevity.