Antique Chest with painting inside

kg988June 26, 2011

I have this antique trunk and I am seeking as much information as possible about it. How old? What country? Profile of someone who would have owned this type of trunk? etc..

I think it is made from balsam (or similar type) of wood because it is extremely light.

The hinges and rivets look hand hammered.

Inside, it is lined with paper and has a picture in the middle of the lid.

Please follow the links to see some pictures of it:

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It looks like an old trunk that was fixed up in the 1980s by stripping out the old lining material, pasting in artwork from an old book (or painting it in there), and painting the outside metal strapping and maybe the sides. I've never seen any original paint on a trunk that looks like that yellowish paint.

The artwork style puts it in the early 1900s, but that's no guarantee it matches the age of the trunk.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 9:28PM
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It's an old trunk...likely from 1880 to 1910. The style is called a camel back and pretty well everyone owned one back in the day. Back about the 1960's everyone was buying up those old trunks and stripping the paint, painting the wood, putting strange new handles on the sides and often painting or papering the insides and using them for blankets or magazines or whatever.
Yours, luckily has not had the inside re-done but the outside has had "The treatment" which has not increased the value.
The picture inside is just a one special and has nothing to do with the owner. I have 2 with similar pictures inside.
Nothing is hand hammered, all machine made....and there were lots and lost of them...back in the day. For years, I would find one or 2 at almost every sale I went to.
Linda C

Here is a link that might be useful: old trunks

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 12:05AM
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Yes to what Linda said. I got one elcheapo at an auction. The leather straps were mangled, I painted it and it holds quilts at my daughter's house. Some bring a respectable price resold now..if they are not tampered with but most either are, or are in rugged shape.

It wasn't only used to travel with, but most old homes had 'trunk rooms'. Those would look like small bedrooms without any clothes presses back when small, shallow clothes presses would start to be more common in homes built after the turn of the century. I had a 1908 home with the foot-deep closets and a trunk room. Out of season clothing was often stored in similar trunks.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 9:30AM
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Thank you. You have all been very helpful.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 5:59PM
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Without being able to touch it, the wood appears to be either aspen or basswood (tilia) which was most widely used in humpback/roundtop trunks from Europe or Eastern North America in the later 1800's to the early 1900's. Typically, they did not have any type of inner lining and were often decorated by the owner. They were intended for travel rather than long term storage... hence the valet.

Are there any markings or labels on the underside of the trunk? Often times, simply the size and shape of a missing label (denoted by a discoloration in the wood) can help identify the maker.

Based on the hardware, my guess would be that it might be a trunk by Barnard, Hill, or possibly a Hamilton, although, Hamilton was pretty choosy about their wood, so the grainy piece and the knot pictured might rule them out.

The hardware is consistent, however.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 3:23PM
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