Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Old trunk


Front of trunk
Front of trunk  
Hi my grandmother recently gave me an old trunk. I am trying to find out any information I can. The trunk was built into her attic and was unable to be removed until she added larger attic access. The home was built in 1926. The family immigrated from Germany to a homestead in Columbus, Nebraska. I would appreciate any information you have. I can provide additional photos. Thank you!

1888 cross slat trunk
1888 cross slat trunk  

1888 Octagon top trunk
1888 Octagon top trunk  

This trunk is almost certainly an American made trunk, but a few were made in Europe using American made parts. Also, many of these were made by trunk companies on the east coast, mostly NJ, and exported to Europe for sale there. The style is called a "cross slat" trunk with an octagon corner top.  The trunk makers called them the "octagon top" trunks when they had those angled corners rather than the regular square corners.  That was a style that started around 1888 and they were made in this same style until about 1915 by some makers.  The front latches were patented in 1882 by a Chicago trunk maker, but they were used for about 30 years by many other makers that bought them from the trunk hardware companies. The metal covering was originally given a metallic "crystallized" finish which was normally gold or silver, but some other colors were rarely used. That finish is often worn off the metal leaving a dull gray look.  I am attaching a couple pages from an 1888 trunk maker catalog that show the cross slat trunks in the regular flat top style and the octagon top. Keep in mind that each maker had their own models and gave them their own names.  This trunk was most likely made between about 1888 to 1900.   I hope that all 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 I own the most extensive collection of historical documents, catalogs, maker's labels, cards, etc.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 I am always updating my inventory of historical documents and antique trunks.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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