Attached are some pictures of a trunk my Grandmother gave me about 30 years ago that belonged to my Great Grandmother. The lock is an Eagle with a Pat. date of 1892. I generally would like to leave the trunk "as is." The things I would like to replace are the 3 metal "rosettes" on top of the trunk. The left leather handle is missing, so I would probably replace both handles in order to match. And I was wondering what is the best way to repair the folding cardboard cover on the top tray. I was thinking of a gauze strip with a see-through adhesive that would allow the motif on the paper decoration to show through. Do you know who manufactured this trunk? And any thoughts on restoration? Also, how hard is it to find a replacement key?
Your trunk is in pretty nice condition overall and worth preserving as original as possible. I can't tell you which company made this trunk because there were many trunk makers that made similar trunks and all of the hardware and parts are "generic" and not specific to a particular maker. These trunks were made from the late 1890's to the 1920's using the same parts and locks. Many old trunks are found without a makers label. But I don't see very many of the trunks such as this with the woodgrain painted metal and the plaid pattern metal. I had a trunk nearly identical to this a few years ago. While I would not call it rare, it is harder to find these in good condition without the paint rubbed off. I agree about replacing the handles and repairing the tray cover. I would probably use a fabric hinge and glue it on the bottom side rather than on the top and it should fold either way if done properly. You can buy some woven fabric trim at large fabric stores that works well for that. I would just clean the trunk and replace the rosettes and handles. You can rub or spray a coat of clear finish on the metal to help protect it if it is somewhat worn. If the lock is marked Eagle then I probably have a key that can work for that lock. You can write me at Marvin@ThisOldTrunk.com and I can give you more details on that.
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 I own the most extensive collection of historical documents, catalogs, maker's labels, cards, etc.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.
Organizations Association of American Antique Trunk Restorers, President.
Publications Primarily on the website www.ThisOldTrunk.com
Cotton & Quail Antiques newspaper (Southeast). Antique Journal magazine.
Education/Credentials 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.