Posted 6 years ago
I wanted to share a few pictures of a wonderful small barrel top trunk which I just finished restoring. It was in very worn condition, so it really needed to be cleaned and repainted and I think now looks very close to the original look. Everything on the trunk is original except for the inner tray which I had to make. This is a very large size doll trunk, being 20" wide and 15" tall. It still has some of the beautiful interior trim and pictures that I was able to preserve. I believe this was probably made in late 1880's or 1890's based on the hardware and style. It's metal covered with hardwood slats and special trim including small milk glass or porcelain "buttons" with brass bases. I do think some old trunks should be left in their original condition, but I also believe it can certainly be a positive improvement to restore many trunks if done carefully and with the proper parts. I have an old trunk catalog or two in my collection which show drawings of small trunks such as this, in sizes from about 12" up to 20" wide, and they called them Toy Trunks. I've seen many people call the small trunks "salesman's sample" trunks, but based on my research I believe there are VERY few true "sample" trunks. Most doll or toy trunks don't have any real unique features or hardware which would be useful to show a potential customer. Most traveling trunk salesmen could show their own full size trunk and catalogs to their customers, plus I found one early article which stated that the trunk company would usually ship a variety of their full size trunks to a location in a city where the salesman could have a showing for potential customers. Most trunk companies made a wide range of trunk styles, using many different styles of covering, locks, hardware, and interior trim. So a small sample trunk would not generally be very useful for a salesman. Some small trunks may have also been used in retail shops in order to show a style and then take orders for the trunk, but based on the variety of trunk catalogs that I have found from many trunk makers, it's pretty clear that they used their catalogs to show their variety of trunk models, sizes, and prices. Thanks.