From Sinclair Lewis’s “Main Street.” Bea Sorenson, a farm girl, arrives in Gopher Prairie:
“She contentedly lugged her pasteboard telescope from the station to her cousin, Tina Malmquist, maid of all work in the residence of Mrs. Luke Dawson.”
I infer from context that the “telescope” is an inexpensive suitcase, but can only speculate at the origin of this usage. My guess is that the folds flat and expands, i.e. “telescopes” for use. Can anyone confirm or deny this?