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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Unique lock on antique trunk

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Question
Star 50
Star 50  

Brass Lock
Brass Lock  
Marvin-

I have a large flat top trunk with a unique brass lock scribed with swirls.  The lock has a stamp of a small star and the number 50 and appears to have a sharp beveled edge around the lock.  There are no patent dates or manufacturer names on any other areas of the trunk or hardware.  I'm trying to sleuth any information I can on the approximate age of the trunk, manufacturer of the lock or potential manufacturer of the trunk.  

Thanks for letting me pick your brain!

Answer
Hi Lisa,

The brass lock on your trunk is a style that was patented by Eagle Lock Co. in 1892. But then the same or very similar style locks were made by several lock companies in the later 1890's and into the 1920's. While most lock companies did put their name on these brass locks, some show up without the name on them.  The star50 marking is the key code, and generally the small star means that the lock was made by Star Lock Company of Philadelphia, or that the key was the same as the Star 50 keys but the lock could have been made by another maker. Even the two largest trunk lock makers, Eagle and Corbin, made keys to fit their competitors locks. For example Corbin made their own keys with markings E30, meaning it would fit an Eagle 30 lock.  So, we cannot be certain which company made the lock, but a key marked with the star and 50 should fit the lock.  Also, this means that the trunk was probably made sometime after the mid 1890's but without seeing any of the trunk or other hardware I cannot pin that down and further.  There are often other things about the trunk or hardware that give clues to it's age or manufacturer.  Many trunks are found without labels or patent dates, so that is not the only way to tell approximately when it was made.  The engraved swirl design on the lock is very nice and somewhat unique, but I have seen and had similar locks with fancy engraved designs. The brass locks of that type are very nice and fairly hard to find.  You can possibly find a key for your lock by checking with Island Trunk Shop, which you can find online.  I have a variety of old trunk locks and keys also, but don't happen to have that one now. If you would like to send a couple pictures of your trunk I may be able to tell you more about it and help narrow down the age a little.  It's very hard to pin down the age of most trunks to within less than about 5 to 10 years because they made the same styles for many years, with the same type hardware.  Lock companies made many style of trunk locks and sold them to trunk makers all over the United States.  So that doesn't help to identify the maker unless they had the lock company put their name on the lock, which some trunk makers such as Taylor and Crouch and Fitzgerald often did.   Hope that helps.   Marvin   ThisOldTrunk.com

Collectibles-General (Antiques)

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Marvin D. Miller

Expertise

I can answer questions related to antique trunks, their age, manufacturers, styles, patents, etc, including all types of trunks such as steamer trunks, saratoga trunks, Victorian trunks, slat trunks, toy and doll trunks, stagecoach trunks, valises, hat trunks, and others.

Experience

I have over 40 years experience in trunk restoration, collecting, and research. I own the most extensive collection of historical documents, catalogs, maker's labels, cards, etc. related to antique trunks. I am always updating my inventory of historical documents and antique trunks.

Organizations
Association of American Antique Trunk Restorers, President.

Publications
Primarily on the website www.ThisOldTrunk.com Cotton & Quail Antiques newspaper (Southeast). Antique Journal magazine.

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Arts from the University of Georgia. I have conducted extensive research related to the topic of trunk manufacturers and trunk styles in the U.S. and Europe.

Past/Present Clients
Have consulted for the Pawn Stars TV show on antique trunks. I have sold antique trunks to museums in California and Florida and to customers around the world.

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