I just inherited an all metal (or tin?) flat top trunk -- I was told my great grandfather brought it with him from Germany in about 1884 however, I noticed the lock is the Eagle Lock company in Terryville Connecticut (#178) and there is a number on the bottom that is painted on 34/100. The inside is fabric. There is a top tray that comes out.
It's quite big- about 3' long, 1.5' wide by 2' deep. I am not seeing any all metal trunks like this online so wondering if it actually came from Germany or if he likely bought it in the US. Also, seems like there is alot of information about restoring wood trunks but I am not finding anything about restoring metal trunks? Can you give us any information?
This style trunk was made in America by several large trunk companies and several were located in Newark, NJ and other east coast cities. Some of these trunks were exported to Europe and then brought back to the US by immigrants. However, this style trunk is not from the 1880's but rather from about 1910 to the 1930's. Eagle Lock Company was in business until about 1954 and they made those locks for many trunk makers. The style of the trunk, the hardware, and lock indicate it's an early 1900's trunk and not 1800's. Some of these were covered completely with metal and many were covered with vulcanized fiber which can sometimes appear to be metal. They typically had brass plated hardware and locks. Most of these trunks do not have a makers label on them. I do see quite a few of these trunks at flea markets and auctions, but the metal and fiber covered trunks are not as popular as the canvas or leather covered wooden trunks which people like to refinish. There's not a lot of information about the restoration of metal trunks because of that and because cleaning and repainting them is about the only option. I'm attaching a couple old trunk catalog pages from 1920 which show similar trunks. It's great that you have an old trunk that was in your family, but I'm sorry it's not as old as you were told.
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 I own the most extensive collection of historical documents, catalogs, maker's labels, cards, etc.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.