The life of a celebrated Louis Vuitton trunk through the glamorous years of transatlantic travel has been revealed as the item goes up for auction in Cornwall today.

Dating back to the early 20th century, the trunk embodies the golden age of luxury travel and has its own story of how it arrived in Cornwall.

Being auctioned by Lay’s Auctioneers with a guide estimate of £6,000 to £8,000, this is just the latest stop in a fascinating journey for the trunk.

A Louis Vuitton trunk is one of the most celebrated items in fashion history, with every element hand-crafted, and they have become prized collectors' pieces. The iconic ‘LV’ leather monogram is synonymous with class and sophistication.

In 1837, Louis Vuitton first travelled to Paris to begin his career as an apprentice ‘layetier’ or a box maker. He quickly became a valued craftsman, but it was 17 years before he started up his own workshop.

This was situated near the Place Vendome, a chic Paris neighbourhood which attracted the fashion elite of the time. Vuitton’s high quality trunks addressed the need for stackable, portable transportation of opulent wardrobes in a time where high society travelled extensively for pleasure. His business quickly became a roaring success and he rapidly expanded.

Initials were the main way to personalise the trunks and the sides of this particular trunk are initialled with ‘G.G.S.’ for one Gabrielle Guittard da Silva, the rather fabulous great-grandmother of the vendor in this auction.

Falmouth Packet: The trunk bears the initials of Gabrielle Guittard da SilvaThe trunk bears the initials of Gabrielle Guittard da Silva (Image: Lay's Auctioneers)

Gabrielle was the daughter of San Franciscan chocolatier Etienne Guittard, another successful French craftsman who arrived in America during the California Gold Rush. He brought chocolate from his uncle's factory to trade for mining supplies, but soon discovered that sweet toothed wealthy miners were willing to pay a premium for his treats. He opened Guittard Chocolate on Sansome Street in 1868.

Thanks to her father’s business, Gabrielle would have enjoyed all the luxuries that San Francisco had to offer.

During her first marriage she famously fell in love with a wealthy businessman, Robert Hanford. Their romance is part of San Francisco legend, embodied by their home 1001 Vallejo Street, or otherwise known as ‘The House of the Grand Passion.’ More recently is it recognised as ‘The house in The OA’ from the popular sci-fi drama series.

The love affair between Hanford and Guittard was by all accounts passionate, as was copiously covered in the newspapers of the day. The two met on a golf course in early 1904 and, despite being married to others, began a relationship.

By September they were both seeking divorces. Robert went about things in a rather blunt way, sending his wife a letter stating: “A man feels the grand passion but once in his lifetime. I have it for Mrs Cavalsky.” They divorced their respective spouses and tied the knot.

Falmouth Packet: A photograph of Gabrielle (right) walking with a friend in Mayfair Street, LondonA photograph of Gabrielle (right) walking with a friend in Mayfair Street, London (Image: Lay's Auctioneers)

The House of the Grand Passion was commissioned soon after, complete with an opulent wood-panelled ballroom where Gabrielle, a singer, is said to have entertained guests with her vocal abilities. The house is now rumoured to be worth over $10 million and can be described as a landmark of San Francisco.

Sadly, the romance burned out fast. They secretly divorced in 1914.

Many clues can be used to date the production era of a Louis Vuitton trunk, with significant markers being the interior label and sales number.

According to Lay’s experts, this particular trunk likely dates to around 1910. The Titanic went down in 1912, placing it at the heart of an extraordinary period of transatlantic travel.

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Gabrielle was known to have used her Louis Vuitton trunk for sea voyages between England and the United States to visit her family.

The ships that plied this line were magnificent vessels such as Cunard’s RMS Mauretania and Lusitania and the great ships of the White Star line. No doubt Gabrielle would have travelled first class, on ships such as these, with her luxurious belongings filling the trunks compartments and its two large interior lift-out trays.

Falmouth Packet: Inside the luxury trunkInside the luxury trunk (Image: Lay's Auctioneers)

After her divorce Gabrielle moved to Greenwich Connecticut and then married a Portuguese entrepreneur called João da Silva with whom she had one son, John. Again the marriage failed, and Gabrielle relocated to Sunningdale in Surrey, England.

Her son, John da Silva, was brought up in England and educated first at Stowe School and then at Trinity College, Cambridge. He served in the army from 1940-46, leaving as a major and mentioned in despatches.

He married Cambridge undergraduate Jan Mayor in 1940 and had one daughter, Diane, who now lives in Coverack.

John joined the Foreign Office after the war and his postings included Rome, Hamburg, Bahrain, Aden and Washington.

Falmouth Packet: The Louis Vuitton signature insideThe Louis Vuitton signature inside (Image: Lay's Auctioneers)

Gabrielle played a large part in Diane's upbringing while her parents were abroad. John's wife died young in 1963 and he married again, having two more daughters and a son, whom Gabrielle sadly never knew. She died in London in 1965.

Diane married one of her father’s Foreign Office colleagues who retired early from diplomatic life in order to paint. They moved to Cornwall and raised their two children here.

Diane and her daughter Frances still live near Coverack.

A spokesperson for the auction house said: “Here at Lay’s Auctions we feel it is a great privilege to handle the sale of such a remarkable and well-travelled heirloom.”

The opulent trunk will be sold in its Jewellery & Luxury Fashion auction in Lanner today (Thursday, February 22).