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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/topham WWl era field desk?


open desk
open desk  

label on top of trunk
label on top of trunk  
I purchased this trunk/desk recently.  I am wondering what it is worth and if trying to have it repaired would distroy the value of the trunk.  the fabric on the lid of the trunk is rotten and falling apart and I can't get the trunk to close properly.  The trunk is missing the removable top tray but has both ink wells.


The trunk you have is a military field desk trunk, which was made under government contract for the Army. The James Topham trunk company of Washington DC made the trunk and it was to be delivered to the Army quartermaster depot at Philadelphia. That is why those two cities are listed on the label. Several trunk companies made the same trunks under this contract. It was probably made sometime between around WWI to as late as about 1930. These trunks were covered with vulcanized fiber, put on with many rivets. They had leather handles on the sides and a lift out tray on the top. The approximate current retail value in this condition would be about $200 to $400 in most areas. I purchased one last Fall for $150, but they are not too easy to find. Having a trunk repaired properly does not hurt the value, if it is done well. Cleaning and repairing the trunk should increase the value. That would include cleaning the covering material, repairing the hinges if needed, replacing leather handles if needed, and replacing or repairing the writing surface fabric.   


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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 I own the most extensive collection of historical documents, catalogs, maker's labels, cards, etc.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 I am always updating my inventory of historical documents and antique trunks.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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