Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Steamer trunk


QUESTION: I was wondering if you can help me with some info on this steamer trunk that was given to me. The lock says eagle lock company terryville conn. I tried to research it myself and found something's saying if a magnet sticks it's not solid brass making me believe it's prev1890's. I don't know if that helps at all. Any info on it at all will be greatly appreciated and thank you in advance for your time.


It's true that a magnet will not stick to solid brass, but it does to brass plated steel. Your trunk has brass plated hardware of a style that was used from the late 1890's to the 1920's by many American trunk makers. Brass plated trunk hardware was not made until the late 1890's, mostly after 1896. Prior to that date there were a few trunks with some solid brass hardware, but most trunk hardware was either stamped steel painted black or "tinned" which gave it a silver color. Eagle made many types of trunk locks until the 1950's including some of solid brass and many that were brass plated steel. Your trunk is a "steamer" model which is the low flat style and it's covered with vulcanized fiber, which is a hard heat treated pressed fiber sheet that was glued over the wood body. The taller trunks were not originally called steamer trunks. Most of the vulcanized fiber covered trunks with no wood slats or very narrow slats and the brass plated hardware were made from about 1910 to the mid 1920's and I expect yours was made sometime during that period. This information is based on a variety of old trunk catalogs, ads, articles, and trunk labels which I have studied over the years. If you look back at some of the prior trunk questions I have answered you will see some photos of pages from trunk catalogs including steamer trunks and fiber covered trunks. I hope that helps.  

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QUESTION: Would this be something of any worth if restored

1920 trunk catalog
1920 trunk catalog  

1920 catalog page
1920 catalog page  
Since it is covered with the vulcanized fiber the value isn't too high and there isn't much to really do to restore it except clean it, replace handles if needed, attach any loose hardware or lock, etc.  It wouldn't be worth spending much on for restoration unless it has higher sentimental value. Restored and with a tray the trunk would have a value of maybe $250 to $300, but some can be found for less in very good original condition.  

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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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