Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Identification of two heirloom trunks
I would greatly appreciate your expert opinion on my two trunks, photos attached.
One is a large travel trunk, used by my great grandmother and the second is a doll trunk used by my great, great grandmother.
Both are in need of restoration and I would also appreciate a recommendation of a restorer(s). Thank you! Julianne
Your large trunk made by Henry Likly of Rochester, NY is a very good quality trunk and a style they made from the 1890's to about 1920. It has heavy duty hardware, a very good brass lock, extra metal center banding, thick hardwood slats,and canvas covering. Many trunk companies made similar trunks during that time and I'm attaching a picture of one catalog page from 1900 with a very similar trunk. These were used by men and women and they usually had between one to three trays inside. The trunk appears to be in very good condition, so you would need to decide what you would like done to it. If the canvas is in good condition all around, you may want to have that cleaned and preserved rather than removed. Many people do prefer to have the canvas removed and the wood refinished, but of course that is not a true restoration, but rather refinishing the trunk. If you decide to keep the trunk's original canvas, I suggest you do not let someone coat it with polyurethane as some do.
The doll trunk is a type made from the 1870's to the early 1900's. It's hard to find the 20" size and most are 16 or 18". It's great that you have the original tray. As you know this trunk is covered with paper which was quite colorful and made to resemble fancy tooled leather. It has a good lock and wood slats which may be attached with brass tacks. When the paper covering is badly damaged most people decide to remove the remaining paper and refinish the wood, which is usually pine. There is currently no source that I know of for paper covering of that style. There is some reproduced fancy trim paper which is sometimes used on these. Again, since it's your trunk you would need to decide the way you would like it preserved or refinished. If this trunk were mine I would remove the remaining paper and refinish the trunk. I would probably preserve the interior or most of it in original condition if the condition is not too bad.
I know of two very good trunk restorers in Michigan who you may want to contact or talk with. If you email me at Marvin@ThisOldTrunk.com I will be glad to give you their names and contact information. I could also provide a few pictures of similar trunks that I have refinished so that you could see how these trunks may look when refinished.