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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Cross Slat Monitor Trunk



The attached photos are of a trunk which was my Great Grandmothers.  She moved further south from around Greenville South Carolina with her new husband in the 1800's.

I would like to know the age, maker, approximate worth.

Also I would like recommendations regarding restoration. What color do you think it might orginialy have been.  Looks like black and a brownish color.

I believe it is a Cross Slat Monitor Trunk covered in tin.

I have more pictures but the web-site would only let me upload 2.

Any information you could provide would be helpful.
Thank you.

1897 trunk catalog
1897 trunk catalog  

That's great that you have your great grandmother's trunk. This style was introduced sometime around 1885 and was made by many trunk companies into the 1910's. A few were even made as late as about 1920. Usually the name for this style was a Monitor trunk, and some of the old catalogs just call them a trunk with rounded corners. It does have the "cross slat" construction which was first patented in 1880. I would say the trunk was most likely made in the 1890's. There were many styles at this time. I can't tell you the maker because all of the hardware on the trunk is "generic" and made by several large trunk hardware companies and sold to trunk makers all over the country. While some companies put labels or tags on their trunks, many are found without a label. Some trunk makers sold their trunks directly to the public and some sold them to large retail store, including Montgomery Ward and others.  These trunks were used by men and women and often the interior was a little different for the men and women. Most had the inner tray with a large hat compartment. They were made in a variety of colors, so you can often find the original colors by removing a part and see the original color underneath. It does look like black and brown painted metal. The slats were usually made of elm and they look like oak when refinished.  
I'm attaching a page from an 1897 Montgomery Ward trunk catalog with a similar trunk. Some had fancy embossed metal and some had the flat painted metal. I suggest cleaning and repainting the metal in original colors, refinishing the wood slats, repairing any damage, and replacing leather handles if needed. Some people clean out the old paper and reline, but I suggest you keep any parts that are in good condition as original as possible.  These trunks are antiques but are not a rare style and the value in good unrestored condition is in the range of about $150 to $250.


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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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