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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Flat Top Steamer Trunk?



My wife and I recently acquired this 34" Wide x 20" Deep x 22" Tall old trunk from a friend.  Obviously, as can be seen in the pics, it is in pretty rough shape, although it appears all the hardware is intact except for the missing key to the lock.  The only identifying info we can find is that the lock is a Eagle Lock Co. Terryville, Conn. U.S.A., with the numeral 410 just above the hinge of the latch.  (I understand from your previous posts that Eagle only made the lock and not the trunk and that they made locks for many different trunk manufacturers.)  The wood beneath the slats is covered with a very thin sheet of metal, much of which is badly rusted.  Much of the wood in the lid and floor is badly rotted as well.

We're interested to know if the manufacturer and approximate date can be determined based upon the style of hardware and design of the trunk.  Also, what is your opinion as to whether this historic piece can be saved/refurbished, or if it's too far gone and perhaps only good for parts...  We live in a farmhouse originally built in 1890, and would like to bring this piece back if possible.

1904 Trunk Catalog
1904 Trunk Catalog  

First, the hardware on your trunk is all rather generic styles which were used by many trunk companies, so I cannot tell which company made it, but it is a style made from about 1900 to about 1915.  I have a 1904 Montgomery Ward Trunk catalog with a very similar trunk that they sold.  The same type trunks were made with either canvas, metal, or fiber covered. Large retailers like Montgomery Ward, Sears, and Marshall Fields bought trunks from several companies and they did not usually have the labels of the maker in them. Some companies did use their own patented designs or unique hardware but those are the exception and fairly hard to find. Your trunk was repainted at some time because the wood slats and hardware would not have been painted and that color doesn't look like an original color. The hardest part of trunk restoration is when metal is rusted badly or the wood is rotted because it would require a lot of time to remove and replace and is usually going to cost more than the trunk will ever be worth. Since this style trunk is not rare or unusual I would not recommend spending too much for restoration. But you can make it look much better by refinishing the wood slats, cleaning and repainting the metal, replacing leather handles and maybe the straps, etc. Sometimes you can use a fiberglass or metallic putty (such as used for auto body repair) to fill badly rusted metal and wood filler and other treatments for soft wood to help preserve it. Then you could repaint metal and stain the wood if necessary.  So if you just like the look of the trunk you can do a little fixing up without spending a lot for restoration work. Also, the number on the lock is the key code, so an Eagle 410 key is what you would need for the lock.  

Marvin Miller  

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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