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First Trunk/LV Steamer

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Trunks1125 of 2604Saratoga TrunkSteamer Trunk- new find!
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    Posted 5 years ago

    (1 item)

    I have always enjoyed browsing antique stores and especially love Victorian items, but only recently have I considered restoring a piece. This circa 1880s Louis Vuitton Steamer came to me out of the blue. My fiancé cleaned out a few storage units a few days ago, sending me pictures of the things he was finding. One of those pictures (#4) was of a sewing machine he was very proud to let me know he was bringing home to me. My text back to him said, "Bring that trunk behind the sewing machine." Of course, I didn't know it at the time, but it was a Louis Vuitton Steamer beige and brown striped canvas which, if I am correct in my research, should be from 1876-1888. It has the initials M.D. monogrammed on each end. However, I am concerned that with the severe water/mold damage, this may be a little much for me to use as my first project. I also considered having someone else restore it, but my financial situation would not allow that. Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

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    1. trunkman trunkman, 5 years ago
      Nice find! It is actually in fairly good shape -- has all the slats and rivets intact. You can do some cleaning up of it yourself -- mild soap and water with a clean cloth on the piece. The slats can be sanded and refinished. Some of the canvas has faded and colour has worn -- not sure you can do much about that. As you are aware these trunks are valuable -- so care is needed in any attempt at restoration. I have one that I "restored" to an acceptable level for myself (on my page). However due to the value of these I would not want to steer you in the wrong direction. I can tell you what I did to mine if you like -- understanding that It is not the opinion of an expert on these trunks...
    2. newcollector633 newcollector633, 5 years ago
      Many thanks for your comment trunkman; I visited your page my first day as a member of this wonderful community/website, and I love your pieces. We are still undecided as to what we will do with our find, not knowing whether we will keep it or sell it (as of course there is no sentimental value). If we keep it, when will be able to have it restored, and of we don't keep it, do we have it restored before we let it go. I live in a small town in Southern Mississippi about 45 minutes out of New Orleans, and I am guessing I could find a professional there...I am, however, concerned about the cost of such. A lot of factors at play here as you can see. I thank you very much for your kindness, and I look forward to seeing more of your finds.
    3. trunkman trunkman, 5 years ago
      Thank you for your lovely comments -- if you have to spend a bit on it see it as an investment as you will surely get that back and more on this...
    4. bjb5859 bjb5859, 5 years ago
      WOW!! Lucky you
      I had one Identical to yours about in the same shape.
      There worth more as is .Sold mine for $5800. I'm not saying yours is or isn't worth that much,but people pay a lot for them as is.
      I'll post some pics of the one I had
      Good Luck
    5. Drill Drill, 5 years ago
      Trunk # 3206 is a relatively early number for Mr. Vuitton.This is considered a Ray'ee stripped trunk. You are correct it was produced from 1876 until 1888 It was created "because of all the look a likes".This particular label is probably Vuittons third design.It has his early locking hardware. The castle crest in the upper right hand corner you don't see very often.I have only seen it twice ,although I quite sure there are others out there. {Incidentally I collect Vuitton label images} By this point in his career he had only acquired 4 medallions for excellence in manufacturing ,as evident by the label.The markings Brevete S.G.D.G. ,were only mandatorily marked until 1883 which means that it was made before the French
      patent system.This narrows your date down a little closer as it was not made after 1883.It is a label that is prior to him manufacturing at the New Bond. London location which was opened in 1885.Those Ray'ee canvas were only
      produced in London for 3 years.They contain a different label inside that is the exact image of the Ray'ee trunk. Hope this helps a bit.

      There is great advise above from T-man and bjb5859
      But if your not sure don't do unknown damage.
      The best advise, is to seek out a pro if you are to restore or recondition.
      It is very salvageable, restored or with nothing done to it. Thanks for the post!
    6. Drill Drill, 5 years ago
      I do apologize- the Ray'ee canvass was produced at 289 oxford street Regent- Circus London.This was his first London location,( not The New Bond location which came much later), even after the 454 Strand location.
    7. newcollector633 newcollector633, 5 years ago
      Thanks, and many thanks to all of you for taking the time to comment. It is amazing how much I have learned from you all...Drill, bjb5859, and trunkman (also randallbarbera). We do know we will not touch it ourselves. I have it in an out-of-the-way corner with a white sheet covering it. That may sound a little overprotective, but I don't want to chance anything. Before I realized what I had, I took out quite a bit of partial bolts of fabric and practice-stitched-in zippers (must have belonged to someone who taught sewing/home economics), and some of the lining came off with the contents. After I saw the label and decided to see just what I had, I took nothing else out of it. The inside is in very poor condition, mold and water damage. The best we can guess is that it is a Hurricane Katrina survivor as the actual piece was in a storage unit in Slidell, LA, about 17 miles out of New Orleans, on the north shore of Lake Ponchartrain. The owner of the units bought the entire property as is and wanted them cleaned out ASAP, being interested only in the metal construct. That is where my fiancé, Curtis, came into the picture...and this little (big) masterpiece came to live with me. I do feel lucky, bjb5859, for Curtis finding this and bringing it home, but I also feel lucky to have "met" some wonderful people generous enough to share their time and knowledge with me. Thank you Drill for your informative comment and helping me now to narrow the date down even more. I do have a question thought, is the number 3206 the actual 3206th trunk Mr. Vuitton made or some other categorization? Thanks again to all of you!
    8. Drill Drill, 5 years ago
      That is the number given to the trunk! It very well could be could be.You could write to The company and find out officially, they keep good records I'm told. Having said that ,Two Earlier style labels precede yours that I know of .There may be one more though, These were for LVs original Grey Trianon trunk. I have not seen the earlier trunks numbered. That is not to say that they weren't recorded in some way.I am not
      sure as to the way in which he numbered them. These were made from 1858 to 1876 when he changed to the Ray'ee stripped pattern.This is an 18 year span,prior to the industrial revolution. They were small houses of Malletiers(trunk makers) in the beginning. It looks as though he started numbering during the labels during the Ray'ee period . Keep in mind the time period in France ,LV was in competition with Malle Goyard, Moynat, Au Depart , Au Touriste and many others.
      The stripped pattern was created to distinguish himself from the others. It was soon copied by competition, This period was prior to the french patent system so it was like the wild west. Numbering gave a way to distinguish himself ,guarantee the high end product with the customer etc.

      La Malle and may know better as they deal with them everyday.Much luck.

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