Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Antique trunk
I was wanting to know history/age and general value of this trunk that I have. Picked up at a variety shop years ago for $100.00 in hopes of restoring it and have never made the time to do so. Label on front top of chest says "the TOTTY trunk" underneath writing is not able to be read. Thank you for your time to address my question. Lena
Your trunk was made by the Totty Trunk & Bag Company of Petersburg, VA and is one of several models of wardrobe trunks they made from about 1920 through the 1930's. Totty was one of about six trunk companies in Petersburg, VA, and the town claimed to make more trunks than another other city in the world. Seward Trunk company was also located there and they claimed to be the largest trunk maker in the world in the early 1900's. All of the companies there made these large wardrobe trunks with the drawers, hangers, etc. as these were very popular in the 1920's to the 1940's. It is very difficult to narrow down the age of the trunk unless it has some patent dates stamped on it, because they made similar models for many years using the same parts Those drawbolt style latches for example were used from about 1920 until the 1940's and are still being used on some chests today. The wardrobe trunks were made in several sizes and styles and some were quite elaborate with interior desks, ironing boards, locking drawers, etc. etc. Most of these trunks including yours were covered in vulcanized fiber, which is a hard pressed fiber material, glued to a plywood body. The vulcanized fiber was very good for trunks because it held up very well and is waterproof. I am attaching a couple pictures from a 1920 Totty Trunks catalog so you can see some of the details they gave about them. Your trunk appears to be a typical style made by many companies, so therefore there are still many around and being sold which tends to keep the price down, unless it were something very unusual and in great condition. I actually get more emails and questions about the wardrobe trunks than any other style. These trunks can be harder to sell because of their large size and because they are very expensive to ship. These can also be rather difficult and costly to restore. In it's present condition the average retail value is in the range of about $100 to $200.
There is additional information about the history of Wardrobe trunks on my website, on the Showcase page. I also have a variety of antique trunk catalogs which cannot be found anywhere else, listed on the Research page of ThisOldTrunk.com. I hope that helps you and best wishes.