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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Two Additional Family Trunks


Dovetailed walnut blanket chest
Dovetailed walnut blan  

Headly & Farmer Trunk
Headly & Farmer Trunk  
I would appreciate your opinion on these two chests in my possession.  The blanket chest is stenciled with my grt. grt. grandma's initials - married around 1854 and born in Champion, NY.
The second trunk is from my Grandmother who emigrated from Norway to US around 1888.
Thank you! Julianne

Well, first I have to say that it's a challenge to give very much information based on one picture, but I can tell you a little. But I don't think it would be appropriate to give you a value based on seeing one side of these trunks. The blanket chest does look very old and certainly could be from around the period when your g-g-grandmother was married. These were handmade of course and the best ones have hand dovetailed construction, forged iron hardware and original old paint.  This one looks like it may have all those things. Many are made of pine or oak, and walnut was not used as often, but that's a good thing also. If you are interested in getting a value, I really would suggest you find a good experienced appraiser in your area that can inspect this chest and see that the hinges, construction, etc. are correct,which can made a big difference in the value. But it does look like a very nice blanket chest and it's wonderful that you have a family heirloom of that type.

There are a couple things about the Headly & Farmer trunk that make me think I am going to have some possible bad news for you. I've studied the hardware and construction of American trunks for many years and am very careful about what I tell people about their trunks. I have over a dozen old trunk maker's catalogs and a few old trunk hardware company catalogs and have also researched these topics in great detail.  I have copies of a couple hundred different trunk hardware patents. So based on all that, I can say that while H&F made trunks for many years in Newark, NJ and exported many trunks to Europe, this trunk was not made in the 1880's. Based on the hardware styles (latches, corners, etc.) this trunk is from the late 1890's to about 1920 period. Latches and other hardware pieces changed a lot after 1890 and I am sure that style was not used in the 1880's. Also this trunk appears to be covered in vulcanized fibre, which is a hard pressed heat treated fibre material. This was around in the 1880's but rarely used on trunks until about 1895 and later when this was made by several companies in Delaware and New Jersey and used more extensively on trunks of this style.  So, maybe your grandmother acquired this trunk sometime after coming to the states and then the story later became that she had brought it from Norway. I've had a number of times when I've had to tell people similar information. 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.

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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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