Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Italian connection


Side and Corner
Side and Corner  

Top and lock
Top and lock  
My Italian grandmother travelled from Italy to Australia with this trunk, and I have been told that it was sent to her family with her brothers belongings in it when he was killed in action while serving with the Italian Army. Sadly, it was placed in the wrong hands just before me and that relative painted over the canvas  - which my father has tried to repair. The outer canvas is red,over wood, with leather strap holders, internally there is a red 'tape' over the joins of the wood slats which is covered then in paper. The lock states "CORBIN CABINET LOCK CO. NEW BRITAIN CONN USA"  and some brass is used to pin/nail the hardware in and some silver metal (iron?) is used. There are small wheels at each corner of the base and it has metal strapping. Where my father has stripped back the damaged canvas is some hand writing on the wood but I am unable to decipher it as only part of the lettering is there.

I was  hoping you could shed some light on the age of the trunk and why an Italian soldier would have his belongings sent home in one with an American lock fixed - is there somehow I can find out which companies used the Corbin Cabinet Lock Co. for military  - specifically where Italy was involved?

Also are you able to recommend any sites for me to gain information and know how so that I can restore this trunk to resemble its original state?  

Thanking you so much in advance - I have read much of what you have responded with to others and have gleaned so much information already!!

1902 Trunk Catalog
1902 Trunk Catalog  

1911 Trunk Catalog
1911 Trunk Catalog  
There were several large trunk companies, primarily in New Jersey, that exported many trunks of this style to European countries, from about 1900 to the 1920's.  Some American trunk makers may have even made trunks under contract with other countries for military trunks, but I have no proof of that. American trunks companies were very large and they could sell trunks even in Europe because they could be produced less expensively here. Many of the trunks eventually came back to America with immigrants.  This type trunk was made by many companies, and nearly all of them used some Corbin locks on some of their trunks. There is no way to tell exactly which company made the trunk since the hardware is a style used by most American trunk companies. I am attaching pages from a couple old trunk catalogs which show similar trunks, so you can see what they said about them. There may be small differences in how some of the trunks looked, but many were made in the same style with the canvas covering. The writing on the wood could have been anything and doesn't help identify the trunk maker or age. These trunks were made from about 1900 to the 1920's based on trunks shown in old trunk catalogs that I own.  There is a book available on Amazon and other websites called Antique Trunks, Refinish, Repair, and Restore.  It covers all areas of trunk restoration.  I hope that information is helpful.


Collectibles-General (Antiques)

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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.

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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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