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RNA Paris trunk

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    Posted 6 years ago

    (1 item)

    Hi There
    Hope someone can help?
    We bought this trunk in France this summer and just love it. The leather covering the trunk as been through the wars; the central sections of leather are either missing and/or sections have been painted which is a shame. The remaining covering has a fair amount of staining where someone has put there mug of tea/coffee on it! but to be honest it kind of adds to the charm.
    The wood banding is all there and in pretty good condition, as are the brass fixings and locks and it still opens and closes
    Which leads to my first of a number of questions
    It measures L92cm W55cm D33cm would this make it a steamer trunk?
    The maker of the trunk? It has RNA Paris stamped into the brass (see the 2nd photo), we cannot find any info on this, does anyone else, or can anyone point us in the right direction (or have an idea of age)
    The locks are stamped with Surete, which I think are the lock makers name.
    Lastly we were thinking of restoring certainly the top mid sections ourselves (last photo), but don't know how to go about getting rid of the paint, any suggestions? or would you go to a specialist? What about the rest of it, would a go over (to the leather), with saddle soap at home do the trick?

    Any help and guidance would be appreciated

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    1. trunkman trunkman, 6 years ago
      Lovely french trunk -- there are a couple of contributors on this site well versed in French trunks and hopefully will give you some good information. In terms of painted leather -- I did have a leather trunk fully painted and I took the paint off with a liquid paint stripper with a very satisfactory result. Of course one has to be careful and work the scraper slowly. Saddle soap would help the rest and then mink oil it after (it will darken the leather though) Yes this would be considered a steamer trunk.Here is a before and after mink oiled trunk
      However I am not so sure your trunk is leather covered -- looks like paper covered. The rip on the top appears to have layers which would indicate paper...
    2. Drill Drill, 6 years ago
      Hello,T-man is on point. This is more than likly a 1920s to 30s, curved (cabin steamer)Trunk made of French Vellum . Vellum is a parchment paper made from calf skin.Popular in France at the time. The process involved wetting and stretching, scraping ,drying multiple times to obtain many different thicknesses.Pumice powder was used as the final finish to bring up the luster .(I have found that ,The surface can actually be reworked with steam if your careful.)
      However Some of these types of french trunks were early versions
      of vulcanized fibre Cellulose material.
      Recovering with Vellum(Calfskin parchment paper) might be extremely difficult in
      this day(Although they do sell "Different" antiqued versions of this paper in smaller sizes).

      Vulcanized fibre however could be more attainable. You can check one
      of my posts about a year ago(421 and 422) for an example (French cube Malle
      Ellysee) The front was completely redone with a vulcanized fibre recipe from the late
      1870s. It is a pretty good match but difficult and time consuming.It is worth it if you have time and patience.My E-mail is posted in my profile if further advise is needed.

      A useful research site for French trunks is but you will have to
      use the translate feature as it is all in French. Suret'e is the lock company(Those are an awesome pair), RNA paris is more than likely the hardware manufacturer.Earlier versions of this trunk(1890 to 1900s would have used heavy calf skin instead of brass hardware on all the slat connections. It is a wonderful piece that you will not see that often in the states, especially with the side slats. The brass will polish up nicely (just don't use abrasives, as it is a thin layer of brass) Much luck!
    3. FrenchConnection, 6 years ago
      Trunkman and Drill
      Thanks so much for all your help and of course information
      I will continue my research and post an update if I find out any further info

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