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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/antique trunk with stars 1800's


QUESTION: I have a domed antique trunk with embossed stars on it. 28"l 16"w 17"h. The old lady I bought it from said a Sylvia Mills sailed from England with it in 1885. It has leather handles and small wheels and the name U. A. Stocking from Salt Lake City inside. Can't find anything online like it. Need help with the value.  Thanks, Stephanie

ANSWER: Hello Stephanie,

It sounds like you have an American made trunk, but it is still possible that someone brought it from England since many U.S. made trunks were exported and sold in Europe. But in order to help with the value I would really need to see some pictures, to see the style, condition, completeness, etc.  Many types of embossed metal covered trunks were made from the mid 1880's to the early 1920's by dozens of trunk companies. The embossed metal was actually made in a couple dozen patterns by the early 1900's. While the star pattern isn't what I would call rare, it isn't seen quite as much as a few other patterns.  If you can attach a couple pictures of your trunk I will be able to help you more.  
Marvin Miller

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trunk with stars
trunk with stars  

trunk with stars
trunk with stars  
QUESTION: Here are a couple pictures. The inside of the trunk isn't in the greatest condition and one leather handle is missing. Thank you so much for helping out!

1911 cross slat trunk
1911 cross slat trunk  

1920 Totty Trunks
1920 Totty Trunks  

That is a "cross slat" style trunk with a round top and embossed metal covering. The style was patented in 1880, but the embossed metal covering was not produced until a few years later, starting in the mid 1880's.  The latches were patented in 1882 and used for many years by many different trunk makers. These trunks were made in many sizes and by many companies with small differences from one company to another. It's not possible to tell which company made the trunk unless there is a label from the maker on the trunk. Many are found without a makers label. This was a very popular style trunk so many of them were made and it's a fairly common style made for many years, from about 1885 to 1920.Several large trunk companies on the east coast made these trunks and exported them to Europe for sale.  I have several trunk maker catalogs from those years that show this style trunk. They always had a lift out tray inside and sometimes a compartment in the lid also.  The embossed metal covering was made in a couple dozen patterns but the star are not as common as a few other patterns.  The embossed metal was usually painted in two colors when it was made and is often worn off. The trunk can be cleaned and/or refinished, handles replaced, etc. without hurting the value, but usually increasing it if done properly. In your trunk's condition the value is typically in the range of about $100 to $200, a little more or less depending on where it is for sale. Auction or flea markets prices are sometimes less.  I'm attaching pages from old trunk catalogs from 1911 and 1920 that show cross slat trunks with embossed metal covering and you can see how they described them. The typical name was Round Top or Cross Slat trunks when these were made and the names dome top or camel back were not used by trunk makers.  I hope that all 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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