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The History of Messenger Bags

Messenger bags have been around for so long that ferreting out their origin point is difficult, but we do know that they were generally used by utility men and date all the way back to Roman legionnaires (and possibly even further back than that). Their widespread use by horse-mounted letter carriers (and more recently, by bike-mounted messengers) gave rise to the name “messenger bag.” The modern version is almost universally credited to the De Martini Globe Canvas company; in the 1950s, they began to produce a satchel specifically designed for telephone linemen. The bag was made of cotton canvas with a waterproof lining and featured two closure straps and a small internal pocket. It was intended to allow telephone linemen to easily access their tools while high up on a pole. When bike messenger companies began to crop up en masse during the 1980s, they adopted the lineman’s bags — with a few tweaks. They added signature coloring to show a messenger’s affiliation as well as reflective strips for safety at night or during bad weather. The general public also picked up on the trend, and messenger bags became especially popular among students. Fashion-forward businessmen have also embraced messenger bags, especially those made from luxurious materials like leather. Today, there are countless brands on the market (including the original, De Martini) and the messenger bag remains a beloved staple.

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