Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Haskell Bros Trunk
I bought an old trunk years ago. It is an unusual size: 17" deep, 35" wide, and 30" tall. A brass label in the top center reads (in four lines): Haskell Bros
52 Madison St
The canvas has been removed and is now all bare wood. Because the size is unusually, I was told that it was used on a stagecoach and was placed behind the driver. Is this true?
I would love to know the age and approximate value as I am thinking of selling the trunk.
Yes, your trunk is a bit of an unusual size to most people, but actually it was a special type of trunk made by Haskell Brothers and many other trunk makers from the 1890s through the 1920s. I've studied trunks for almost 40 years now and so I have gotten my information from studying hundreds of trunk patents, company histories, trunk catalogs, advertisements, labels, etc, etc. The truth about this style trunk is that they were made long after stagecoaches were still in use in most parts of the country. Your trunk is most likely from about 1900 to 1910 based on the lock and hardware styles. The large latches on the front were patented in 1878 but were used until the late 1920's. The lock style is from the 1890's to about 1930. The trunk is a type that was designed to be used by traveling salesmen from all types of companies, so it was called a "sample trunk". A traveling salesman used these to carry his company's samples, such as shoes, hardware, wallpaper, etc. They were made in a variety of sizes but this one is a fairly typical "sample trunk" size made by quite a few trunk makers. I have several trunk company catalogs from the 1890's to about 1915 which show similar trunks and list them as Sample Trunks and even describe how they were used. I can't tell you how many times I have heard stories from antique dealers and others about how these trunks were used in the Civil War, on stagecoaches, or even came over on the Mayflower! So, sorry to tell you it's not a stagecoach trunk, but I do want people to have the true information about their trunks. I am going to attach a couple of the old trunk company catalog pages of Sample Trunks so you can see some of the details they gave about them. They were usually canvas covered, had heavy duty hardware, strong locks, and were often a size similar to yours. I've had several of these trunks over the years, but I don't see them nearly as much as the common size travel trunks. Some companies ordered these trunks for all of their salesmen and had the company name painted on the trunk. Haskell did make good trunks and they nearly always put a label on their trunks. Also, most of their labels also included "Sample Trunks a Specialty" which meant they made these for many companies. The value is based on rarity, condition, size, age, completeness, etc. so I can't give you a precise value from these pictures, but generally these trunks sell in the range of about $300 to $600. They can sell for more in the right place and if in very nice restored condition. I hope this information is helpful.
Marvin Miller, ThisOldTrunk.com