Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Camelback trunk.


QUESTION: Im looking for information on this trunk. Im not worried about value (I bought it for 6.00) Im just looking to get some info on where its from and what it make take to make it look new(ish) Thank you in advance..and a few photos are attached.

1911 Trunk Catalog
1911 Trunk Catalog  
Restored metal trunk
Restored metal trunk  
ANSWER: Jason,
You got a great buy on your antique trunk. This style was called a "cross slatted round top trunk" or sometimes a barrel top trunk by the makers.  They didn't use the name camelback trunk when these were made, or humpback, dometop, or other newer names. It has embossed metal covering, which first came out about 1885 and then was made in many patterns and used until about 1920.  Based on the style of the trunk and hardware I estimate that this trunk was probably made during the 1910's.  Many American trunk makers had similar models in various sizes, with varying number of wooden slats. The embossed metal was put through a paint roller process that painted the raised design so they were nearly always in two colors. There were many color combinations and you can usually find the original colors of your trunk by checking under the lid or other areas where it isn't worn off. Some of these were painted with a gold or silver metallic finish, called crystallized finish.  The edge metal was nearly always painted black and the wood slats were give a coat of varnish or shellac. The interiors all had lift out trays and usually paper lining, but some had fabric lining. The same parts were used by many companies so unless there is a maker's label it's nearly impossible to tell which company made it. There were trunks of this type made in many U.S. states. I'm attaching an old trunk catalog page of similar embossed metal (sometimes called Fancy Metal in catalogs)trunks for you and also a picture of one that I restored for someone. You can clean off any dirt, rust or loose paint with a wire brush or steel wool. Some people like to repaint them and some prefer to leave them in the worn look. I personally prefer to repaint these trunks for a more original look. This style is not rare so it won't destroy the value, but usually increases it if it's done well. If the original paint were in excellent condition I would suggest leaving it alone. The wood can be cleaned with steel wool and lemon oil or other wood cleaner to remove dirt and bring out the color of the wood. You can also put a fresh coat of shellac or varnish on the wood and painted metal. If the handles are broken or missing you can buy nice original style leather handles online or make your own.  I hope that answers your questions.    

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QUESTION: Thank you very much for the info. not bad for 6.00. the inside I didnt describe but would like to show you. (its UGLY) chocolate brown paint. This might be the hardest part to fix? no trays or anything. thanks again for all your help!!!

A relined trunk
A relined trunk  
It may be ugly, but not really the hardest part to fix. You can put new fabric or paper over the interior as it is now, to make it look much better. It would be too much trouble to try to remove the old paint or varnish. I prefer using fabric and gluing it in, but some people use paper lining. A new wooden tray can also be made to fit inside.  If you use fabric to reline it, I always measure and cut pieces to go on the side first and overlap them a little in the corners. Then I do the center area just up to the edge so you have a nice seamless look. I use regular white glue to glue fabric pieces in and it works very well. You can brush it on one area at a time with a small brush then start the fabric at the top and smooth it down as you put it in. There are many types and patterns of fabric that can be used and I normally use a cotton fabric.  I hope that 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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