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Civil War era (?) trunk/foot locker. Spent $10 on it. Tips appreciated.

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Trunks1437 of 2583My newest purchase ...A  Trunk OLD RED CHEST
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    Posted 6 years ago

    (1 item)

    I bought this trunk from a kid going off to college for $10 yesterday. He didn't know anything about the history of the trunk.

    On the front it says "Patented Nov. 8th 1864".

    It needs a lot of TLC - but before I rub Murphy's wood oil and apply wood glue on it, I'd like to see if someone smarter than me knows what I'm dealing with here. I'd hate to depreciate the value of this trunk - if there is a better way out there.

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    1. KathyKay, 6 years ago
      My recommendation would be to remove the paper and refinish the wood. The paper usually comes off easily, I use a damp sponge to wet the paper and scrap it off. Let the wood dry and sand it. I use a tung oil finish, numerous coats hand rubbed gives a nice finish. The metal should be sanded to remove the rust, usually paint the metal flat black. In my opinion the cracks in the wood give it character. I haven't tried to glue cracks in the past, the wood has shrunk over the years, getting it back together would be difficult.

      I recently posted a hat trunk that was paper covered. There are before and after pictures posted that will give you an idea what it might look like with the old paper removed.

      I prefer striping and refinishing the wood, in this case I don't feel it hurts the value but I'm not an expert. I know some folks like them in the original condition.
    2. fortapache fortapache, 6 years ago
      Stubben glycerin saddle soap or Leather Honey available at Tandy Leather. Looks like it is covered with embossed leather. I prefer to leave my antiques as original as possible. Looks fine to me as is.
    3., 6 years ago
      Hello. Your trunk is a composition (paper) covered trunk. The covering is meant to resemble embossed leather. These paper covered trunks were the least expensive. From your other pictures I see that yours has the "Patented Nov. 8th 1864" on the front. This patent, #44944, deals with a process to give the paper the "appearance cloth-velvet" The patent date means your trunk could be no older than that date, but from the hardware, trim, and interior, I would put it from the early 1870's. The hasp next to the lock does not belong, take it off. Cracks like yours are fairly easy to fix, but you would have to remove the hinges. What you do to the trunk, strip/re-finish or leave as is, is totally up to you. Value-wise is a draw. They made a lot of these, and while this one is in good shape, it is nowhere near a mint piece, so not keeping it original will not affect its value. Everyone has an opinion on this, but it is only yours that matters, have fun!
    4. JonB, 6 years ago
      Please post pictures when you finish. A friend is refurbishing a trunk almost exactly like yours however I have a feeling yours will be done long before his.

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