I have a barrel top antique trunk I am looking to assess its age / manufacture. The only print I can find on the entire trunk is - Pat d April 16 1878 - engraved into the lock latch. It also has heavy duty cast iron Victorian trunk latches with the number 1 cast inside the horseshoe shaped latch. It has cast iron rollers on the bottom and is missing one. The trunk is covered in a tin that is pressed to look like alligator leather? It looks to be mostly complete, original finish.
You are correct that this type trunk was called a "barrel top" and sometimes a "cross slat round top" trunk, rather than a dome top, humpback, camel back, etc. This trunk, like many American made trunks, has parts which were patented over a period of time and used by many trunk makers. The lock style was patented in 1878 by Eagle Lock Company. The cross slat design and the metal clamps used on the slats were patented in 1880, the latches were patented in 1882,and the alligator pattern embossed metal was patented in 1885. There were eventually about 30 patterns of the embossed trunk metal. So the trunk was made sometime from about 1886 to around 1900 most likely, as all of these parts were used for many years. In fact I have a couple trunk catalogs from 1911 and 1914 that still show this style trunk. The number 1 on the latches is for the size. They made from 1 to 5 with 1 being the smallest. Those were made by the Sessions Trunk Hardware company of CT. Unless the trunk has a makers' label (which many do not) it's not possible most of the time to identify the maker. That's because most of them used the same style parts made by large hardware companies. The trunk appears to be completely original and in very good condition. The wood slats are hardwood and are usually elm, based on several early articles and trunk catalogs. I'm attaching a couple trunk catalog pages which show similar trunks and you can see the descriptions they gave. These trunks were made in several sizes and some had very elaborate interiors. I hope that answers your questions. Also, if you want a replacement bottom roller send me the size and a picture, to Marvin@ThisOldTrunk.com and I may have one.
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Marvins wealth and depth of knowledge of subject is impressive; his willingness to help and give abundant info are what makes this website a success.
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.
Organizations Association of American Antique Trunk Restorers, President.
Publications Primarily on the website www.ThisOldTrunk.com
Cotton & Quail Antiques newspaper (Southeast). Antique Journal magazine.
Education/Credentials 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.