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  • Writer's pictureDavid Morris

INSIGHTS: S.T. Dupont & The Murder on the Orient Express

For decades companies have pursued collaboration with highly respected media brands. Ian Fleming’s James Bond film franchise is a perfect example. Bond’s choice of car, drink and clothing are all well curated.

In the world of Agatha Christie, such tie ins are perhaps less overt though they happen all the time. Who hasn’t wanted to spend a weekend on Burgh Island in the Agatha Christie suite, or have a souvenir from the Pera Palais Hotel? Near the top of the list for Christie related tie-ins is the Venice Simplon Orient Express, who draws travellers seeking to journey in Christie’s footsteps and partners with HarperCollins for co-branded limited editions of The Murder on the Orient Express.

S. T. Dupont:

One of the more storied & historic companies to partner with the world of Christie & the Venice Simplon Orient Express is S. T. Dupont. Founded almost 150 years ago in 1872 by then 25-year-old Simon Tissot Dupont with a passion to craft objects of desire that would be coveted by the elite. Initially he focused on creating exceptional travel trunks, with bespoke detailing and personalized initials, which became essential accessories for well-heeled Europeans. Prior to starting his company, Dupont was photographer to Napoleon III which led to both Napoleon and Empress Eugenie being among his first customers. His Parisian workshop expanded to create a full range luggage and leather goods. Dupont’s sons took over the firm in 1919 and a few years later moved it to the family’s hometown of Faverges in the foothills of the Alps.

S. T. Dupont continued to expand its reach and cache. In 1929, the Cartier boutique in New York stated selling their travel cases to wealthy Americans. In 1941, the Maharajah of Patiala ordered 100 exquisite evening bags in lacquer for his harem, each containing a solid gold cigarette lighter – the world’s first luxury lighter. In 1947, Humphrey Bogart commissioned S.T. Dupont to design his luggage and in the same year, they were commissioned to produce a personalised travel case for the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip. In 1953, S. T. Dupont created their first ladies handbags – for which Audrey Hepburn was one of their first clients. As the years went on more famous people became associated with the firm, from Pablo Picasso to Andy Warhol. By 2004 they started making accessories for James Bond films and in 2011 the French government gifted an S. T. Dupont case as a wedding gift for the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge.

The Film Tie-In

Given this background, it was certainly appropriate that Princess Natalia Dragomiroff, one of Agatha Christie’s characters in The Murder on the Orient Express, should have her luggage made by S. T. Dupont for the Branagh film released in 2017. After all she was a wealthy Russian aristocrat who lived in Paris, where S. T. Dupont’s original Maison was. The trunk made for the film was based on an historic period correct design from their archives. The images below are of the vintage piece (left) reproduced for the Princess in the film (right).

The Collectibles

Six items for collectors of either S. T. Dupont or Christie, or both, have been created to celebrate Christie’s novel and the film. All of the collectibles were designed to convey the sense of style and luxury associated with the Orient Express, but also to tie in the novel by Christie.

Ligne 2 Lighter & Letter Opener Gift Set: $2,295 original retail. The image of the full set is atop the page. Items come in a gift box (measures approx. 10” x 5” x 3” inches) designed to look like the interior of her cabin, with a bed, desk and wall decorations. The letter opener is designed to look like a dagger while the lighter is designed to look like Princess Dragomiroff’s luggage. The lighter is individually numbered and limited to an edition of 888.

Fountain Pen & Letter Opener Gift Set: $2,275 original retail.

The pen is lacquered with bands of yellow gold. It’s nib is 14k gold. Items come in a similar gift box as per above. Limited to an edition of 888.

Rollerball Pen & Letter Opener Gift Set: $2,175 original retail.

Items come in a similar gift box as per above. Limited to an edition of 888.

Ballpoint Pen & Letter Opener Gift Set: $2,075 original retail.

Their Line D ballpoint come in a similar gift box as per above. Limited to an edition of 888.

Cufflinks: $395 original retail. A pair of gentlemen’s cufflinks in brown lacquer banded by yellow gold and positioned as appropriate for any well-dressed Belgian detective.

Issued in a limited edition of 500, with each case numbered.

Leather Passport Holder Case: $375 original retail.

Any standard size passport will fit in this handmade leather passport holder, with a closing strap. Unknown number made.

Note: S. T. Dupont has made other items related to the Orient Express train, but as they are not affiliated with the Agatha Christie novel or film they are not reviewed here.

Current Values:

Most items are out of stock since new, but can be found for auction or at resellers. Recent sales imply that the lighter set is worth ~$1,300 US, the fountain pen sets ~$900, the rollerball ~$800 and the ballpoint ~$700. Cufflinks appear to sell for ~$250 US and the passport case, as new, is likely of similar cost.

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