Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Old steamer trunk



I found this trunk at a yardsale about 5 years ago, and have been holding on to it since. I had intentions of restoring it, but started reading up and realized there was a lot involved. I recently brought it out from the basement and tried researching to see if I could figure out its age and value (if any). The outside is covered in canvas, and there is a shelf insert.  I had pulled out the fabric that had been badly glued inside by a previous owner somewhere down the line, and recognized the original lining was paper, which mostly came off with the fabric. It is pretty distressed, is missing a leather side handle, and the hardware doesn't latch well. I'm really fond of it, even in its condition.

1911 steamer trunks
1911 steamer trunks  

1911 steamer trunk with straps
1911 steamer trunk wit  

That is a true "steamer trunk" from about 1900 to 1915, give or take a few years. Taller trunks were not originally called steamer trunks, but now most people use that term.  These were made from about 1880 to the early 1920s but the style of the latches and lock are from about 1900 and later. Most were canvas covered and had paper lining like yours. Many trunk companies in the US made these in several models, so they were pretty common. Therefore the value is not too high on these and I usually see them sell in the range of about $75 to $150 in that condition, maybe a little more in some areas in a retail antique shop.  Most people carefully cut the canvas and soak it off and then refinish the wood and reline them. I'm attaching a couple old trunk catalog pages so you can see what they said about them. Each company made them just a little different so they may not look exactly like yours.  I hope that helps.

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 I own the most extensive collection of historical documents, catalogs, maker's labels, cards, etc.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 I am always updating my inventory of historical documents and antique trunks.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