31 May 2011
A tribute to the Sabroe & Stephensen Globetrot #1233, otherwise known in the United States as the “Danish School Bag”, imported to the US, beginning in 1968, by a man named John Reynolds, and sold through a store in Upper Manhattan owned by a woman named Anna Youree and called “The Chocolate Soup”.
In the 1980’s, Chocolate Soup ran an ad every week in the Village Voice advertising the bags for 90 USD, which was a very large amount of money for a school bag at the time, but it was definitely the be-all, end-all of school book bags during my days as a student at Stuyvesant High School. Having a Danish School Bag was practically de rigeur, if you wanted to be thought hip in those days in New York City. They were very popular with DJ’s, because the main compartment could fit 12” vinyl easily, and they are probably the forerunners of the bags we now call “messenger bags” and popularized by companies such as Timbuk2 and the like.
I probably bought mine in 1984 or 1985, and used it for about 10 years, until it shredded and was replaced with a Tenba bag of similar design, but of ballistic nylon, rather than heavy duty cotton canvas construction and with plastic Fastex hardware rather than the heavy metal hardware of the Globetrot. I remember quite clearly my fully-laden Globetrot falling off the back of my motorcycle while I was going about 60 MPH, surviving with only a slight tear to the lid sometime around 1989. When I was at Carnegie-Mellon University studying Theatre, I had taken a stencil that was used to mark stuff that belonged to the drama department, and stencilled “DRAMA” across the flap in white spray paint, so that the black bag looked like the flight cases you see touring companies and musicians using, which are usually stencilled with the name of the act, since everybody tends to use the same types of cases. After I left uni, I decided that looked a little silly, so I sprayed big blobs of black paint over that, giving it more of a punk rock look.
After my Globetrot finally couldn’t be used anymore because it was just too damaged, too ratty looking, and too unpadded to hold an Apple Macintosh Powerbook 140 safely, I spent the next several years going through a succession of Tenba bags, as they were much more professional in appearance than the Globetrot, and designed to hold laptops and professional photography equipment, but after some years, I began to dislike synthetic fabrics, and began looking for another Danish School Bag. I eventually found them online, but prices had jumped dramatically, so I put the idea on the back burner for some time, especially because I had bought two of my favorite Tenba bags at one point for the amazingly low price of 33 USD each, considering that the retail price of those bags was about 200 USD. In fact, I never paid more than 35 dollars for my Tenba bags, because the first one of the three was bought from Egghead Software when they were going out of business for just that price.
The last of my Tenba bags was in service until about a year ago, when it was replaced, despite being in excellent condition, with a Cole-Haan leather briefcase. Actually, I still have all three Tenba bags. They hold a succession of now vintage laptops that I no longer use in my storage unit. I even added a fourth Tenba bag of a somewhat different style to the collection, which holds my amateur radio gear.
In any case, I found out tonight that it appears that the Sabroe & Stephensen company has gone out of business, judging from the message on the websites connected to at least two of the Internet domain names associated with the company. They were founded in 1924, and closed, apparently, on 13 November 2009. One of their websites is still up at http://globetrot.dk/ so it is possible to see some of the information about their products, and perhaps it may be that they are still in business, but I doubt it.
You can also find other information at:
and there is a wonderful story in the LA Times from 2002, that I highly recommend, here:
I have seen some copies of the Globetrot out there, but they aren’t quite the same thing. Hopefully, someday, someone will take it upon themselves to make a true replacement.