Antique trunks, also called traveling chests, were originally used as luggage for extended trips by stagecoach, train, or steamship. Today, given the weight limitations on airplanes and the new, lightweight wheeled luggage available, most people use these old trunks as furniture—chests for storing things like blankets, linens, papers, and other memorabilia.
Antique chests, unlike trunks, were always designed for storage and were never intended for travel. The earliest examples commonly found today are from the Victorian Era. Generally the interior box is made of a wood like pine and then lined with materials intended to protect and decorate. Early Victorian trunks are upholstered, much like the furniture of the time, with studded hide or leather. Later, trunks were covered with paper, canvas, or plain or embossed tin. They were typically reinforced with hardwood slats and metal hardware, and locked with a key.
Most trunks fall into two categories: domed and flat-top. Domed trunks have high arched lids that range from camel-back to hump-back to barrel-top varieties. Flat-top trunks, or steamer trunks, were designed to makes these pieces of luggage easier to store on steamboats or trains. What people think of as steamer trunks today were once called “packers”—the even smaller “cabin trunks” or “true steamer trunks” were the most practical pieces for ship or train travel.
Other types of trunks include monitor-tops, barrel-staves, and bevel-tops. Jenny Lind trunks get their name from a Swedish singer who toured America with P.T. Barnum, carrying just such a trunk. Only made between 1855 and 1865, these trunks have a keyhole shape when looked at from the side.
Saratoga was the name used by many manufacturers for their top-of-the-line trunks. These trunks are known for their serious hardware and complex compartments and trays inside. Large wardrobe trunks are meant to be stood on one end when opened. Inside, one side has drawers while the other is a void so the traveler has a place to hang clothes. Some of these are equipped with interior straps to hold shoes, briefcases, curtains, vanity mirrors, and makeup cases.
Wall trunks have special hinges so that, when open, it can stand flat against the wall. Dresser trunks, also called pyramid trunks, are a particularly coveted form of wall trunk. Perhaps the most desired kind of trunks of all, though, are the ones covered in thin oak slats, placed side-by-side. These were extremely prestigious trunks, made in dome-top, flat-top, and bevel-top styles.
Well-known malletiers (trunk makers) include Louis Vuitton, Goyard, Moynat, Haskell Brothers, M. M. Secor, Leatheroid, Clinton, Hartmann, Oshkosh, Molloy, Truesdale, and Taylor. La Malle Bernard and Seward Trunk Company are still making trunks while Shwayder Trunk Company of Denver, Colorado, became the luggage firm Samsonite.
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Ballowe and a crew of 41 re-created the Franks' Amsterdam annex using an amazingly detailed array of furniture, knickknacks and accouterments, including a shelf stocked with tattered vintage books, an ancient steamer trunk, a period stove, crates...Read more
The Luv Doc: Wherein the Luv Doc describes an act of deep, unsettling perversionAustin Chronicle, November 24th
Well ... unless you're the TaxSlayer Bowl, the GoDaddy Bowl, or Tostitos Fiesta Bowl ... whose board members' souls are already locked tightly in Satan's steamer trunk. I think I can say with a high degree of confidence that the only thing that had a...Read more
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"A thinking woman sleeps with monsters. The beak that grips her, she becomes. And nature, that sprung-lidded, still commodious steamer-trunk of tempora and mores gets stuffed with it all: the mildewed orange-flowers, the female pills, the terrible...Read more
What's It Worth: Credenzas and steamer trunkRichmond Times-Dispatch, November 21st
Can I assume that this trunk was handed down and brought over on a ship for an early settlement like Jamestown? — S.D.. ANSWER: Your steamer trunk was manufactured in the 1920s. They were called steamer trunks because travelers used them aboard ...Read more
Why the steamer trunk is still the ultimate suitcase for the stylish travellerEvening Standard, November 20th
Long before the label made clothes, jewellery or handbags and became an international byword for luxury fashion, a steamer trunk made by Louis Vuitton himself (a Parisian master craftsman who died in 1892, leaving his soon-to-be household name in the ...Read more
Fargo Recap: Kiss My GritsVulture, November 16th
"Son, I can fill a steamer trunk with the amount of stupid I think you are" is instantly on the shortlist of the season's best lines. Dodd may be a steamer trunk of stupid, but he's got Hank outmanned. Hanzee knocks him out, then Dodd sends him and his...Read more
Fallout 4: All Magazine Locations and TypesUSgamer (satire) (registration) (blog), November 12th
Magazine #10 - Located in Trinity Plaza along the east side of the church interior, look for this magazine upon the lectern near the Steamer Trunk. Players gain an added +5 Radiation Resistance as a perk for collecting this piece. Magazine #11 - In ...Read more
Fallout 4: All Vault-Boy Bobblehead LocationsShacknews, November 9th
Fallout 4 is Bethesda's latest return to the Fallout universe, and it is no stranger to the odds and ends of the wasteland. Much like the previous titles, Fallout 4 is littered with collectibles and nifty items to find and nab before someone else can...Read more