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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/1800 victorian eagle lock steamer trunk


side view
side view  
trunk hardware
trunk hardware  
QUESTION: i just found this at our local dump and i took it home to try and find the origin, value, - the lock says eagle lock company Terryville CT
it has leather straps and wooden across brass hardware, very old  can you tell me about it.  
ill send a picture.  thank you  Anne

1900 Goldsmith Steamer trunks
1900 Goldsmith Steamer  
1920 Totty Trunks
1920 Totty Trunks  
That was a very nice find from the dump. I'm glad to know it's going to be preserved. This is a true "steamer" style trunk, which is the short model originally designed for use in the cabins of steamships. Many people today use that name for any antique trunk which is not really correct. The steamship lines set regulations on the maximum sizes for trunks that could be used in the rooms or cabins and it was no more than 14" tall. Many were made from 12" to 14" tall. The taller trunks had their own model names such as dress trunks, etc. The trunk is canvas covered wood and appears to have banding and edge binding made of hard pressed fiber, which was made to resemble real leather but it held up better over the years. Most of these trunks had the fiber or metal banding rather than real leather, but some were made with leather binding and leather straps also. The hardware is brass plated steel and this was typical of most trunks of the late 1890's to the 1930's.#If a magnet sticks to the hardware it is not solid brass#. Brass plated trunk parts were not made until the late 1890's and after 1900 most trunks had brass plated hardware. The wood for the slats was usually elm or ash, which sometimes resemble oak to many people. These steamer trunks were made mostly from the 1890's to the 1920's and as late as about 1930 by some companies. Some called them "steamer trunks" and some used the name "cabin trunks".  The locks were made by several lock companies including Eagle, which was in business until 1954 making that same style lock, but they never made trunks. Many American trunk companies made these trunks and often they are found without a makers label. I'm attaching a couple old catalog pages of steamer trunks from 1900 and 1920 so you can see how they described them. Most companies made their trunks just a little different than other companies, but often using the very same hardware which was purchased from large trunk hardware companies. These trunks nearly always had a lift out tray inside.  Your trunk appears to be in good condition and today these trunks in good unrestored condition usually sell in the range of about $100 to $150, sometimes less at flea markets and auctions.  Enjoy using your antique steamer trunk.

Marvin Miller

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QUESTION: on the side of the trunk it has capital letters N.S.W.  any idea what that means?  i thought it was older as the sides are real leather! and the tacks are copper that are keeping the leather together.  ill have to check about the brass with a magnet- thank you for that and your expertise- inside is good shape too- but im going to keep it and use it as a coffee table in the my living room!  thank you again!  anne


It was very common for the owner to have their initials or name, and sometimes the town where they lived printed or painted on the side of their trunk.  They did continue to use real leather on some of these trunks, as well as the fiber binding, into the early 1920's. The leather was used on higher quality trunks but the pressed fiber actually lasted longer most of the time. The leather can be preserved with some mink oil polish or other good leather polish. The fiber can also be polish with shoe polish to bring back the look of leather.  I hope the catalog pictures show up for you, but if not you can email me directly at and I can send them.


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QUESTION: yes yes there is a paper tag on the front that says its from orleans, ma right here where i live.  so thank you again- do you only look into trunks because i have some old chairs and an old tool box type trunk that i found there too.  

the catalog pictures did come up  thankyou.  Anne

That's great that it has the tag since many don't. I have a more limited knowledge of antiques such as chairs, etc. so not sure I could help much with that, possibly the tool box if you'd like to send a couple pictures.  
Glad the pictures came through, they didn't show up at first when I looked.

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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