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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Value & history of old trunk


Old Trunk
Old Trunk  

Old trunk logo
Old trunk logo  
Going through my Uncle's estate we found this trunk & would like an idea of its worth.  The size is 34"L x 23"H x 21"W. I've included pics, one with a label that's on the top stating "Century Trunks".  The front of trunk has some peeling & side handles are broken, lock not working & no key (yet anyway).  All other hardware is in pretty good shape.  Inside is fair but no shelf, just the rails.  Any information would be much appreciated. Thank you.

1920 trunks
1920 trunks  

1920 trunk catalog
1920 trunk catalog  

In the late 1800's to early and mid 1900's there were many trunk companies across the United States. Even though I have been studying trunks for nearly forty years I usually still see a trunk from a different company almost every week, which is amazing to me. I started saving pictures of trunk company labels just a couple years ago and I already have a couple hundred different company labels.  Anyway, while I have seen one other trunk with the Century Trunks label, I don't have any history information on that company as well as many others. There is very little information available on many of the old trunk companies, at least not on the internet yet. But this trunk is a style that was made from approximately 1920 until the early 1950's in nearly the same design and materials. It is covered with vulcanized fiber sheeting over wood, usually plywood, and has edge binding and additional strips of heavy vulcanized fiber trim. This fiber material was strong, flexible, and very durable for trunks and was used on many trunks of the 1900's. It was made in many colors and sometimes the brown versions are mistaken for leather. This trunk was most likely made from the 1930's to 1940's.  They almost always had a lift out tray or two and were usually lined with paper lining. While there is starting to be more interest in these fiber covered trunks, the prices are generally not very high. I usually see trunks of this type sell in the range of about $75 to $200, depending on condition, completeness, and area.  They sell for less usually at auctions and flea markets. It makes it more interesting to have the old label on it, but it really doesn't affect the value much to most people.  I am attaching a couple old trunk company catalog pages from 1920 of similar early model vulcanized fiber trunks. Some were used by men and women and certain models were designed as Ladies trunks and some as Gent's trunks, mostly because of the interior features.  I hope this helps.   

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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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