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"Au Depart" Trunk (Paris circa 1925)

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Trunks1514 of 25951800s indian or Chinese very large  handcarved box very niceDoll Trunk with Original Interior - Embossed Metal Vine Design
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    Posted 7 years ago

    (61 items)

    I have this fantastic "Au Depart" trunk made in Paris around 1925 but I would like some advice please on how to clean the exterior which is, I believe, made of vellum. Any advise would be appreciated.

    In addition, as you can see the lock has been drilled - but I have no idea on where to get a replacement...



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    1. Drill Drill, 7 years ago
      You are correct it is quite fantastic,it is one of my favorite styles of french banded trunks yours happens to be a wardrobe trunk. As you are well aware by now all of the rivets are high quality solid brass which can be polished to a high gloss shine Vellum can be quite tricky to clean.the browning color in your photo tells me that it could have been coated at one time with clear varnish.If that is the case then you would only be cleaning the varnish. As I would not advise stripping it.
      My preference would be to keep the aged look of the base of the trunk, but I tend to high polish all the brass,the contrast can be stunning.Brass can be cleaned chemically if there is heavy patina with(Goddards brass polish never, dull etc. and a ton of cotton balls/Q-tips.) (Extreme Caution: do not get it brass polish on the vellum as it can stain the surface painters tape is preferred ) Brass can be polished mechanically with a small Dremel rotary tool with brass polishing wheels,white rouge and non abrasive cloth disks. (Be Gentle)
      As for the exterior base a small amount of carpet cleaner containing Oxy-clean on a tooth brush with clean dry rags does wonders. (Cautionary note: Vellum does not like humidity or prolonged water moister ,clean and dry immediately. )I also use this carpet cleaner approach to clean staining from the interior cloth.(dry with a blow dryer) Another way might be to be to try Lexol leather cleaner,then Lexol conditioner. This would all depend on if it is coated with varnish or not.
      My personal preference on all of my trunks is Howard's feed and wax made with beeswax and orange oil. If the interior contains odors,1 bar of Ivory soap placed inside for a few days will get rid of almost any odor.
      I hope this helps. Take your time ,do things right or get someone that will, as this is a quite rare and a somewhat valuable French trunk from a quality maker in wonderful condition.If you search all my past posts you will find another AuDepart cabin trunk, and a french cube trunk (Malle Elysee) that is very similar to yours.
      As for the lock I would look at the web site: as they might be able to advise on it's value/and getting the appropriate french lock to retain it's value.In my opinion an american lock replacement would decrease value.Much Luck and thanks for the eye candy.
    2. paulnot, 7 years ago
      Hi Drill,

      Thank you very much for all of this excellent information and advice. I'm certainly going to take my time and try to do the best job I can... I will post a picture when complete.

      Once again, really appreciate it (I had tried a few places to get some advice and you are the only one to come back with anything decent!)


    3. Drill Drill, 7 years ago
      Your welcome Paul, The French trunks tend to be my favorites . Important to realize that many times these items are fine for display with just a quick cleaning and waxing. Many people try to make old items" New" and remove what is wonderful about their age. (I have been guilty of this in the past).It does not always add value as many people like items as is.(Patina on brass is one example).A good rule of thumb is to do no harm,when in doubt do nothing to it. Don't kill yourself trying to remove stains from vellum, that will never come out. Live with the character of the piece.

      I Should have referenced the carpet cleaner 2 and 1 by Carbona with Oxy-Clean as the product I
      have been using. Again ,much luck

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