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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Recent News: Trunks

Source: Google News

Email Grogan and Company to Sell Estate of Celia Thaxter Hubbard
ArtfixDaily (blog), July 29th

Dedham, MA: On Friday, August 1st, Grogan and Company will conduct an auction featuring a wide array of items from the Estate of Celia Thaxter Hubbard. The contents of her Cambridge and Brewster, Massachusetts homes include a vast collection of folk ...Read more

Proactive ideas preventing jail escapes
Sedalia Democrat, July 29th

Last summer, Pettis County Jail inmate Matthew P. Lenz attempted to secure his early release by propelling himself through the food hatch in his cell door. He was quickly subdued — the major flaw in his plan was that he tried to escape from a hole...Read more

Rare look at the secret works of Dr. Seuss
AOL News (blog), July 29th

Traveling in a specially retrofitted old-fashioned steamer trunk, this exhibition premiered at the New York Public Library in early 2013. After closing in Brea, the exhibition will travel to Chicago and then Northport, NY. The "HATS OFF TO DR. SEUSS...Read more

Memento curator finally decides the old stuff is history
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, July 29th

For years I displayed these treasures, rotating items on and off shelves. I could've hosted a month of “Antiques Roadshow” just from the living room. Nana's antique sewing machine in the heavy wood cabinet, Granddad's black steamer trunk. All so...Read more

Obtainium Cup returns to Mare Island
Vallejo Times-Herald, July 27th

Cleaver, of Napa, who owns Tractorhaus Productions, drove an aircraft drop tank outfitted with four wheels and a steamer trunk in the back. Those handprints on the body of Cleaver's contraption? Nothing major — they came from zombies. One of the major ...Read more

Metro Vancouver couple take their magic to the world
Vancouver Sun, July 27th

The steamer trunk, now that's another story. I had the plans for an illusion and thought I could build it myself. I went on Craigslist and found a steamer trunk in Surrey. I went to this guy's house and once I see the trunk, I say, 'Yeah, this looks...Read more

Woody Allen Aims for Moonlit Magic, Gets One of Two
Vegas Seven, July 25th

There are moments in Magic in the Moonlight when Allen takes a back seat to his designers and actors, parking his camera like a steamer trunk and simply taking in the scenery. One shot, for example, opens with an actor standing alone in the frame and...Read more

You Can Take It With You: The Case for Overpacking
Yahoo Travel, July 25th

There are people who can travel with little more than a toothbrush and a change of underwear. If that's your thing, I salute you. But I will never aspire to be like you. For me, a trip is not when I limit my wardrobe — on the contrary, it's my fashion...Read more