Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Old trunk


Trunk front
Trunk front  

I recovered this old trunk from an abandoned house.
Can you tell me anything about it ?
I think it says NF RODE on one side

1907 Rountree Ad
1907 Rountree Ad  
You have an American made travel trunk made sometime from about 1905 to the early 1920's. It is a canvas covered wood trunk, with edge binding and center banding made from vulcanized fibre which was made in a color to resemble leather. Vulcanized fibre became very popular for trunks in the early 1900's and was made by several large companies for trunk makers. It could be colored in many colors and was often made to look like leather. Some of the hardware was brass plated, which was typical of most trunks from about 1900 to the mid 1900's. I have not seen these have a special name in old trunk catalogs other than something like a "rounded corner" or "round edge" trunk. I have a 1905 Montgomery Ward trunk catalog that shows a similar style trunk and it calls it "A large trunk with rounded corners".  Montgomery Ward and other large retail companies bought trunks wholesale from trunk makers. I've had and seen trunks of this style over the years, and every one that had a makers label happened to be from companies in Virgina, such as Rountree in Richmond, or Seward Trunk and Bag Co. in Petersburg, VA.  It's possible that this style with the wide rounded top edges was developed by one of the trunk makers in Virginia, such as H.W.Rountree & Brother Trunk & Bag Company.  The front latches and hardware are one way to help tell the age, because that style was not made until about 1905 and then was used for about 20 years. I also have an advertisement from 1907 for Rountree trunks which shows one nearly identical to yours. Even Rountree used a variety of hardware styles on their trunks so they didn't all look exactly alike. It is hard to find two antique trunks that are identical. Most restorers would remove the old canvas and refinish the wood body of the trunk, clean and repaint metal hardware, replace leather straps and handles, and then polish the vulcanized fibre banding to look like leather again.  I restored a trunk of this type that way and it looked wonderful.  These trunks usually had a large inner tray with one or more compartments also.  So, there is a good possibility that your trunk was made by Rountree or another trunk company from Virginia. The name on the side is most likely the original owner and it was very common for that to be painted on the sides of a trunk.   I hope that helps.
Marvin Miller,

Collectibles-General (Antiques)

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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.

©2016 All rights reserved.