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Civil War ERA Brass Bound - this one is a keeper

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Trunks1745 of 2651Cross Slat trunk late 1800's another project to conquerRefinished standard steamer trunk 1890's - custom order
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    Posted 8 years ago

    (34 items)

    First photo is before it was cleaned up. Love this trunk - and haven't seen one like it before. The leather is pebble tarred - a bit bumpy - after I cleaned it of the layers of dust - I used vegetable oil to condition leather - came out excellent. It sits in the living room, wishing I knew the owners story.

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    1. trunkman trunkman, 8 years ago
      Fabulous find!!!
    2. Drill Drill, 8 years ago
      Ok! Sherwood I love it too!wonderful to see it on a straight sided Jenny Lind! The big Question is: , Is it pebbled (coal) Tar? If ever there was such a thing applied to the exterior of a trunk.(I believe that it really is).Why would they ever put that(Poison) on a trunk? Others may disagree,believing that it is only multiple coats of varnish degraded and aged over time,creating this effect. This is not the only trunk that I have seen with this claimed substance ,Theres a large one listed on E-bay right now . Any thoughts appreciated!
    3., 8 years ago
      I am 99% sure that the trunk is covered with patent leather. The trunk is a high quality trunk with brass bands, and brass lock. Why would you emboss the leather only to cover it with tar? I have what I consider proof of this on my Facebook page at
      Because of the process used to make patent leather the finish breaks down over time to produce this effect. This is not to be confused with a tar like substance sometimes used on canvas covered trunks as a water repellent.
      PS. I think straight sided Jenny Lind may confuse some of our newer members. If we are to accept the term Jenny Lind trunk, which refers to hourglass shaped trunks from the 1840's to 1870's, a term by the way which was never used by trunk makers, then this trunk is not a Jenny Lind. What this trunk is, is a leather bound, Iron banded Saratoga.
    4. SherwoodTrunks SherwoodTrunks, 8 years ago
      Thanks Jim for great info - I am waiting for you to publish a book on the history of trunks - I am still learning after all these years. The person I purchased the trunk from told me it was tar covered, so there I go believing what I am told - will have to work on that. This weekend I am taking a ride to visit a friend who has a barn full of trunks and he mentioned he had one like this with the covering - but in the Jenny Lind Style. I will take some photos and post early next week. His trunk has the original canvas covering, so will be interesting to see similarities or differences. Have a great day fellow trunkers.
    5., 8 years ago
      Your welcome. Sounds like it could be an oil cloth covering. Look forward to seeing it.
    6. jscott0363 jscott0363, 8 years ago
      Very awesome looking trunk!!
    7. Drill Drill, 8 years ago
      Jim, Goggle: if you will-As I'm having trouble establishing the link to this post. Trunks ,leather goods and umbrellas 1911 page 254 shows an advertisment by trunk paper/felt manufacturer- C.B. Hewitt & Brothers 48 Beekman Street N.Y. claiming to sell-" F. S F. Tar trunk board" and other paper products to the industry. My question is ?If tar paper has never been a trunk covering what is he selling?

      Ironically : the history might be able to be found out:I would also like to point out that this trunk I believe to be the exact trunk located
      on page 41 of Paul Pat Morse Antique Trunks identification & price guide.Sticker and all.
    8. SherwoodTrunks SherwoodTrunks, 8 years ago
      Drill, this trunk in fact did come from NH and from the barn of the gentleman you mention. We drove up a month ago and purchased 11 trunks. This one had belonged to the brother-n-law and then Pat and Linda. I spotted it on top of a pile of other trunks and loved the look of the brass bands.
    9. Drill Drill, 8 years ago
      Yeah! me and this type of covering and a lively debate as to the substance of it's type of covering, well lets just say I'm almost ready for a chemist to tell me it's damn properties. Knowing what I know about the history of Samuel Cabot inc. 1877 .The inventor of pebbled coal tar paper as a construction material.
      "It's a construction of saturating felt paper with coal tar imbedded with gravel ",(paper can be embossed as well) I have my doubts as to weather these types of trunks are leather covered at all, I believe it to be. The same type of felt black covering that I took off the Jenny Lind I posted a while back (It wouldn't burn very easily, leather that I have taken off other trunks sure does). I have been researching this type of finish/as well as the coal tar industry on the east coast for some time. I believe it to be very plausible as a waterproof covering of the time period, although not extensively done. Thus the trunk paper maker C.B. Hewitt advertisment. Yes it is 1911 much later than your trunk, but why are we mentioning Tar trunk in an add to the trunk manufacturers if it does not exist.

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