Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Innovation trunk



lid open
lid open  
I would like to know when this trunk was made.  Also what it is made of.  It would also be useful to know if it is worth any money!  I am not sure if if is a hat trunk, but seems a little big.  I have not had any success searching on the internet.  It is very horribly painted, how should we proceed?
It measures 51.5 cm (20.25 inches) cubed.

Engraving on lock states "Eagle Lock Co Terryville Conn USA"

Plate on front says "Innovation Trademark"

Inside there is a removable basket with lid and another lidded section in the roof of the box which is held up with poppered straps.

The frame is metal and the panels are wood?

1914 LV
1914 LV  

1900 Goldsmith catalog
1900 Goldsmith catalog  

Yes, your Innovation trunk is a hat trunk and the size is typical of the ladies hat trunks of the 1900 to 1920 time period. Many trunk companies made a few different models of hat trunks and the models with the lift out basket, usually called a cage, were for holding ladies hats which would be pinned to the fabric webbing. There were also a variety of patented hat holders used in some of these trunks, which often looked like large pin cushions to pin the hats on. The upper lid compartment was for other small items such as gloves and scarves.  I've had similar trunks made by other trunk makers.  It does look like the trunk has been repainted and so from pictures it is hard to tell if the trunk is canvas covered or vulcanized fiber covered. You should be able to tell fairly easily as the fiber covering is much smoother and harder than the canvas covering. Also nearly all of the Innovation trunks I've seen were covered with the vulcanized fiber. This was a heat treated pressed fiberboard material which was light weight and flexible so it was used on many types of trunks, especially from about 1910 to the 1930's. Based on the style of the latches and lock, I would say it was most likely that this trunk was from the 1910's. The fiber covering was made in a variety of colors, most often dark brown, black, deep red, olive green, and russet. The edge binding was usually fiber or metal. Some of the vulcanized fiber was colored to look like leather and some people are still fooled by the appearance of the fiber. It held up much better than leather over a long period of time unless the leather was properly polished and preserved.  I would recommend you preserve the interior as original as possible.  The exterior could be repainted in colors you prefer, or you may experiment on a small area of the back to see if the newer paint could be removed without hurting the old finish. Sometimes that can be done with some paint thinner on a cloth, depending on the type of paint that was used.  I'm attaching pages from a 1914 Louis Vuitton trunk catalog and a 1900 Goldsmith trunk company catalog with other hat trunks.  Hat trunks are not as common to find as a standard size trunk, so the values are usually a little higher if the trunk is in good complete condition. Of course the paint hurts that value some. In the US the hat trunks like this with a cage would usually have a value in the range of about $200 to $400. Some that are older and all wood or leather covered in nice condition are often worth more.  

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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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