Question In an auction, I bought a hump back steamer trunk ( I think that is what they call it)that had a pat MAR1680 on a hinge of the lid. That can't be the year, right? Is this maybe when the hinge was made or possibly just a pat number and not a year?
The marking you found is really Pat. Mar.16,'80, for March 16, 1880. This was a patent issued to Charles Taylor of Chicago for the Cross Slatted trunk and hardware used on those. Many trunks made by a large number of American trunk companies have these parts, from the mid 1880's until about 1920. Taylor assigned the patent rights to a hardware company in CT that actually made the slat clamps and other parts and then sold them to trunk makers across the country. So, just about every trunk of that style has the same type of slat clamps and design. I'm going to attach the link to the original 1880 patent so you can see the details there. Keep in mind that the actual manufactured items often look a little different than the patent drawings. Many round top or barrel top trunks and even flat top trunks were made in this style and with the same type hardware. When these trunks were made, only the short flat top trunks about 12 to 14 inches tall were called "steamer trunks". They never used the names "hump back trunk" or "dome top trunk" in any of the old trunk catalogs that I have and they were always called round top or barrel top trunks. Now everyone calls them something different than the original names.
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