Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Father's trunk



When my father passed, I came into the possession of this old trunk.  Believe he had it when he joined the Navy in WWII.  Really don't know anything more about it and would appreciate any info you can provide.  Given it's poor condition, I am refinishing it for my son, so it will hopefully stay in the family for another generation or two.  Thanks for any info you can provide.  Pictures attached.

1881 trunk catalog page
1881 trunk catalog pag  

1911 trunk catalog page
1911 trunk catalog pag  

That's a nice little trunk that you have from your father. The paper covering on these trunks was designed to look like the tooled leather and metal banding that was used on the expensive trunks. This was often called imitation leather by the trunk makers. It was first developed way back in the 1860's and was used on many types of trunks for many years, even as late as the 1910's. It's great that your trunk appears to have all the original hardware. If the paper is in poor condition, which most of these are, most people remove the paper and refinish the wood which usually looks very nice. I would recommend you keep all of the hardware original and also replace the leather handles if needed. These were usually lined with paper inside also. Nearly all of them had a lift out tray. The metal latches on your trunk were patented in 1872 but were used into the early 1900's. Most of these trunks were made from around 1880 to 1900 and I don't think too many were made after around 1900. I have a large trunk catalog from 1881 which shows many styles of the paper covered trunks including one very much like yours. I will attach the picture so you can see what they said about it. I also have a trunk catalog from 1911 which listed only one paper covered trunk, similar to this, and I am attaching that also. I would estimate the age on this one to be from the 1890's to about 1900, so it was made well before WWII. These were called "barrel stave top" trunks as you will see in the 1881 catalog, because the top is rounded similar to a barrel. Most of these trunks were made from pine with elm or ash slats, but sometimes other woods were used. Many American trunk makers made a variety of this type trunk. I hope your son will enjoy using his antique trunk.  

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.

Past/Present Clients
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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