Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Trunk description



Hi Marvin,
I just come across a high dome trunk with a lovely coat of grey paint and green wallpaper which I'm about to bring back to it's former glory. I've never seen a trunk with vertical and horizontal staves like this before. Any ideas on its style, age and background would be helpful. The embossed metal under the handle end caps has traces of green over what appears to be the natural tin coating which is what I will replicate. The other query is the tray has 3 compartments. I am assuming the right side compartment would have had a lid like the rear compartment as there are traces of the fabric hinge and tacks. The left compartment has trim whereas the right does not. Under the  wallpaper the rear compartment lid has trim similar to the left compartment.
Thanks your time and help. It's great to have access a site like this.

1886 catalog page
1886 catalog page  

1897 catalog page
1897 catalog page  
Hello Steve,  
Sorry for the delay as I have been traveling for the Memorial day weekend, away from home.  The slat or stave arrangement on your trunk is unusual, but I have seen many combinations or arrangements on these trunks over the years. It's great that you have that original tray and that the trunk looks to be complete. These trunks were first called Cross Slatted trunks when the style was patented in 1880 by Charles Taylor of Chicago. But then the metal covering was developed about 1885 to the early 1900's in different patterns. The front latches were patented in 1882. These embossed metal trunks of this style were made starting about 1885 and were very popular as late as about 1920. They were made by many trunk companies, in the U.S. and in Canada, with over two dozen different metal patterns. Some companies just called them Round Top and others called them Barrel Stave Top trunks. Various model names were given by the different trunk companies, but I've never seen any use of the names "dome top" or "camel back" that I see used often today.  The wood staves on the trunks were mostly made of elm, but sometimes ash. The wood tray and interiors were mostly covered with printed paper, but sometimes cloth. They used many types of fancy trim that was glued in when the trunk was made.  The large right side compartment was covered and was called the hat or bonnet box.  The long rear compartment was the parasol case, which some trunks did not have, so this trunk was most likely a ladies model. I am attaching a couple pages from old trunk catalogs of similar trunks, from 1886 and 1897.  I have quite a few more from later years including 1909 and 1911. There were many color combination used on the metal, and some were just done in gold or silver metallic colors, called crystallized which was done with a chemical process. But most were painted in a two color combination and you can usually find the original colors under a part such as the handle caps.  The wood on the interior can be cleaned and refinished or recovered with paper or fabric as you probably know.  Depending on the trunk and the wood, I have done all of those style interiors.  I try to preserve any of the fancy paper trim when possible.  That's a nice unusual trunk and should look great when you finish with it.  

Collectibles-General (Antiques)

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Marvin D. Miller


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.


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.

Association of American Antique Trunk Restorers, President.

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

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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