Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Antique trunk


Outside front
Outside front  

Inside and key
Inside and key  
I recently purchased an antique trunk and would like to learn more about it. The seller said it is an 1800 travel makeup trunk. It is made entirely of wood and I see no identifying marks. It's missing the handles and some straps inside but has the original key and working lock. On the inside of the lid is a mirror. Dimensions are 28.5" x 14 1/16" x 11 1/16". Any information will be appreciated.


It is an interesting antique chest you have. But I doubt very much that it was made for traveling or for use as a makeup trunk. I cannot see the sides so I can't tell what type of handles it may have had, or if it ever had any originally. The picture of the interior is also not very clear so I can't see the details well. I've seen many types of chests and trunks and studied them for over 40 years and I know they didn't travel with makeup chests of this type in 1800 or later. I can tell you this was not made by a trunk maker for traveling purposes and was most likely made for use in a home or by a craftsman of some type. Trunk companies did make special small trunks for hats and small items, including make up, but they did not look like this. While this could be from around 1800, I personally believe it is more likely from the mid to later 1800's. But again I can't tell for certain without a close inspection. The mirror may have been added later, but I really can't tell from the picture. Many small chests of similar types were made for use as silver chests, document chests, writing materials chests, or chests for special tools of a watch or clock maker, etc., etc. The trouble with this website is that it is nearly impossible to give a good estimate of the age of many antiques from a couple pictures and then people think I'm not doing a good job. But I don't want to give bad information and some items need to be inspected closely to determine age, construction, purpose, etc. It is easier with most traveling trunks which have hardware which was patented and can be well documented. This was not really made for traveling based on the construction, having no covering on the wood and not having a valance around the lid. While it may have been used to occasionally transport some items, it wasn't intended for regular travel use, such as travel trunks. So, this is probably not helping you much and I suggest you seek out an experienced antique dealer or appraiser in your area who can inspect this and give you a second or third opinion.  I will say that I know from experience there are many antique dealers who have very little experience or knowledge on certain items and give out bad information or even make up stories that they believe sound good to buyers. I find there are more of them all the time and I've heard many stories about trunks that I know are not true and I have the proof for it. This type item which doesn't have much hardware is much more difficult to give details on based on pictures.  
I hope that helps some.

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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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