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Collectibles-General (Antiques)/James S. Topham trunk



Composite of shots of trunk
Composite of shots of  
Hello Mr. Klein,

I found this foot locker at an estate sale this weekend. I have gently cleaned and waxed it. The dimensions are 33.25"L x 14.25"H x 15"W. The wood has lots of "history".
When was it manufactured?
How would you set about replacing the missing barrel key?
Are these handles made of iron?
Has someone refinished it post-manufacture?
Is it missing the drop-in internal compartment that I have seen in others that are similar?

Thank you for your time,

Hi Janene,

James Topham made many types of travel trunks but this is not a travel trunk and was probably made for some other specific purpose.  The handles do appear to be iron but could also be stamped steel and appear to be original to this chest. It's harder to tell when this was made since it doesn't have any of the typical trunk hardware. But the style of the lock and handles lead me to estimate the age at the 1890's to early 1900's.  I cannot tell from your pictures if this has been refinished. It also does not appear to have ever had a lift out tray, which travel trunks had, but many other types of chests did not.  You may have to check with a locksmith to find a barrel key as that is not the type lock used on travel trunks which I have much more information on. Sorry I can't be of more help, but 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 I own the most extensive collection of historical documents, catalogs, maker's labels, cards, etc.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 I am always updating my inventory of historical documents and antique trunks.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.

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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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