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My Great Grandmother's Trunk

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Drill's loves433 of 525Brass antique trunk lock... George Washington??French Trunk?
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    Posted 7 years ago

    (1 item)

    This trunk belonged to my great grandmother, at least since the 1950s when my mother was a little girl. My mother believes her grandmother's family brought the trunk to the US from Russia when they immigrated around 1902. The dimensions are 34 inches wide by 24 inches tall by 20 inches deep. Beyond that, I don't know anything, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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    1. Drill Drill, 7 years ago
      It is an American cross slat Round top trunk, more than likely early 1900s or late 1890s.As this was a popular style.
      It appears to have a flower and leaf pattern as the base covering( there were many patterns produced) of embossed tin/as well as the slat hardware. The inside tray appears to be in tact although there might have been additional covers on the top. Many trunks were made in America transported across the globe for others to purchase for the great immigration to American soil.
      Good Luck with it and thanks for sharing.
    2. michaeldmanning, 7 years ago
      Upon closer inspection I notice that all of the decorative fleur-de-lis style metallic caps on the ends of each wooden slat are marked "PAT MAR 1880". I assume this decorative element was sold separately and patented by the manufacturer.

      I also notice that the worked metal that covers much of the trunk was originally a golden brass color, as the spot underneath the lock remains untarnished. Can that color be brought back? Is that advisable?
    3. Drill Drill, 7 years ago
      Yes ,That makes some sense as these trunks started appearing around the 1880s all the way through to about 1915.Some of the locks did say "monitor "on them although few had this distinction.I have found more of the earlier models tended to have heavier cast hardware as opposed to pressed tin,but that is not always the case.More than likely it was mid 1880s as not many were made exactly on the date of patent. The color gold was the most popular of the crystalized finishes produced. It
      Is hard to find ones that sunlight and father time have not done a number on. The process for color was a lengthy one in the 1880s. and hard to replicate unless you are a metallurgist. Most people use a good metal paint, 1 solid color/or paint in relief for 2 colors, others polish the metal and clear coat. Much luck.
    4. Drill Drill, 7 years ago
      One other note: most trunk manufacturers purchased their hardware from others .(St. Louis trunk manufacturing co.and J.H. Sessions hardware manufacturer are two that come to mind)That's why we see the same hardware on different manufacturers. A Few did produce their own hardware ,these tended to be the larger producers.Again, nice trunk it is one of my favorite styles, you can see two of them in my profile and good luck.
    5. michaeldmanning, 7 years ago
      Thanks so much for all this info! One other thing... what do you recommend for giving it a general cleaning after years of accumulating dust? There are also a couple of small paint drips...
    6. TrunkerMarvin TrunkerMarvin, 7 years ago
      Hi, I would like to add just a bit to what Drill has provided for you. Some trunk makers did call these "Monitor top" trunks, and others just listed them as cross slat trunks with rounded corners (from several old trunk catalogs I've collected). The cross slat style was patented in 1880, along with that style slat clamps, by Charles Taylor of Chicago. But Taylor transferred the patent to John Sessions of CT, who made trunk parts. Sessions then sold the parts with the patent date on them to any trunk maker that wanted to buy them. They were used until about 1920, so they are found on many trunks. Trunk makers in NJ and NY exported trunks to Europe, so some of these were brought back by immigrants. The embossed metal was made in a few dozen patterns, beginning around 1885, and a lot of the metal was given a "crystallized" finish which looked like a metallic finish and several colors were made, mostly gold. The tray would have had covers on all the compartments and you can usually find the tack holes on the back or top where they were attached. These embossed metal trunks in the "Monitor" style were made mostly from the late 1880's to the 1910's. That style lock was also called a monitor style lock by many trunk makers, but it had nothing to do with that style trunk, and they were used on many other styles. Cleaning: you can scrub the dirt off the trunk metal and wood with a damp cloth and even with some all purpose cleaner, then wipe it off. It won't hurt the trunk, just don't get the tray or paper inside wet. You can also use a little wood cleaner, Murphys oil soap, or wood refinisher (I use Formby's), to clean or strip the old dirt and grime off the wood slats. Then you can put some tung oil finish or other good wood finish on the wood slats and they will look beautiful. Most of the trunk slats were made of elm and the wood looks beautiful, similar to oak, when refinished. I hope that helps.
      Trunker Marvin

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