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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/James W. Topham trunk


Hi Mr. Miller,
I, too, own a James W. Topham trunk and via the photos and the description of the one in your emails to Chuck Nikolas in 2011, our trunks are almost identical. I can't tell you how excited I am to find out so much information about this trunk. A friend gave it to me long ago so I didn't know any history and, as I am preparing to downsize, I am going to need to sell the trunk. I would like to know what you recommend I do to assess the value in terms of selling price and what you think would be the best way to go about putting it on the market. I found a similar but larger trunk on Worthpoint but could not see the "sold" price unless I joined Worthpoint. Are they a reputable site? Thank you for whatever you can tell me.

1900 trunk
1900 trunk  
Hello Joyce,
I hope I can help some. The Topham trunks that I have seen have been good quality trunks and that style is pretty popular so I wouldn't think it will be any problem selling it. The value of a trunk, like most antiques, is based on the style, age, condition, completeness, size, and sometimes even location. While it is helpful that your trunk has a label, it doesn't always increase the value to everyone. Most people will buy a trunk based on the style and size and the overall look, plus it usually helps if it is in very good condition and has the original tray inside. While Worthpoint is a reputable site, knowing what one particular trunk sold for isn't necessary going to mean that price would really be right for yours. If it was an auction price it could have been lower than the current market price, etc. There are trunks of similar styles in a wide price range based on all the factors I mentioned, and whether it is restored, complete, etc, etc.  Anyway, a trunk of that style in good complete condition, but unrestored, would generally sell in the range of about $150 to $300. You can set a price on your trunk and list it online such as on Craigslist, or see if an antique shop in your area would do a consignment, etc. Or you can sell it through an online auction and see what people are willing to pay for it (which is usually at or close to the current market value). Those are the primary ways that people sell a trunk now. It partly depends on how quickly you want to sell the trunk and the minimum price you would accept for it. If you want to send some pictures to me I may be able to tell you a little more.  I hope that 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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