Collectibles-General (Antiques)/antique trunk
QUESTION: I am interested in knowing about my trunk - approximate age, worth, or any historical information. The lock is imprinted with Eagle Lock Company June 1882 - Dec 1892, Terryville. The outside has a type of mesh fabric cover. The wood appears to be pine. No straps, tray, or key - although hope to find. Would it be better to clean the metal or leave patina?
Thank you for your help.
Your trunk is a duck canvas covered trunk in a style made from the mid 1890's to about 1915 or so by many US trunk companies. The lock was patented and made by Eagle Lock Co, but they sold these for many years to the trunk makers. The hardware and those locks were the same as used by many trunk makers during those years. Most were lined with paper but more expensive models had muslin or linen lining. They always had one or more trays inside for clothes, dresses, shirts, etc. The locks usually have a key code on them such as T4, B56, 30, etc. and if you find that I can possibly find a key for you as I do sometimes sell trunk keys. The trunk is not a rare style but is an antique and in that condition the value is usually in the range of about $150 to $200 in most areas. Having the tray, key, and good handles increases the value. Also you can clean the metal if there is any rust, then it can be left as is or repainted depending on your preference. Many people like to remove the old canvas and refinish the wood and since the trunk is not rare it really doesn't ruin the value to do that. Good stitched leather handles can also be purchased for these trunks. One company that made many similar trunks was the L. Goldsmith & Son trunk company of Newark, NJ. I'm attaching a page from their 1900 catalog showing a trunk of nearly the same type so you can see what they said about their trunks. The made these in many sizes and some with leather tie down straps and some without. I hope this all helps.
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QUESTION: Marvin, thank you so much for taking the time to provide all this information. I looked for a number on the lock, however, don't see one as you described. Would it be on the lock itself? Have included image of the lock. Also included an image of an inscription I found on the top above the lock. Again, thank you for sharing your expertise, I really appreciate it.
(What is duck canvas?)
ANSWER: That brass tag on the trunk is very interesting and has nothing to do with the trunk directly, but it was probably put on by the owner. It is inscribed,"I.J.W.Union Local 9". I did a little research on that and found this:
The IJWU was founded in the late 19th century and chartered by the AFL as the International Jewelry Workers' Union of America on September 17, 1900. Its members include those employed in the retail jewelry trade as diamond cutters, watchmakers, crystal and dial repair professionals, optical technicians and dental assistants.
I don't know where the Local 9 unit was located but with a little more digging online you may be able to find out. That brass label is probably worth some money to a collector of those type items, but I don't know how much.
The key code is usually on the face of the lock, either right above or right below the hinge. I think I can see one on your lock but cannot read it. You may need a magnifying glass to read it clearly.
Duck canvas was enameled canvas which would shed water like a duck. Most of the old trunk catalogs called the canvas "duck canvas" as in the page that I provided.
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I located the number on the lock. Do you have this particular key? Do you have any idea where I might be able to purchase leather handles and trays? Is it possible to find these pieces as antiques? Looks like I would need to carefully loosen "clasps" that secure leather handles. The information about IJW was very interesting. Will look further to see if I can find out about Local 9.
It looks like the key number is 28. Is that correct? I will have to see if I have another one of those. I know I sold one of those a couple weeks ago. The best place to get those handles is at BrettunsVillage.com. Buy the 3 layer handles as the others are not strong enough for that type trunk. Please email me at Marvin@ThisOldTrunk.com to check on the key and I can give you more information that way. The handle holders can be removed and reinstalled for the new handles. It's not really too hard if you have the right tools. A small hammer, a tack puller, or screwdriver to carefully pry up the nails and pull them out is what is needed. It may sound difficult, but it can be done without damaging anything if you are careful. I use a flat putty knife or small sheet of metal to protect the canvas while using the tools to pry up the handle holders and nails.