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Barrel Stave Trunk circa 1885?

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Furniture8042 of 10556seaman's chestQueen Anne side chair
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Posted 5 years ago


(2 items)

This is a trash find therefore the sad condition. It measures approx 30" across and 30" high at the tallest point and I believe it is a very abused and neglected barrel stave chest from the late 1800s/early 1900s. I found it in a trash pile in front of an 1880 Victorian estate several weeks ago and it was soaking wet and caked with mud and dirt - either kept in a barn or wet basement.

The interior fancy paper and boxes are gone - just wood warped in places, some mold and peeling plain paper. It has long lost it's leather handles and wheels - only one wheel bracket remaining. It was covered with very wet, peeling browning tan canvas that came off in my hands without much effort. The torn and loose canvas was trapping some of the water against the old wood so this is now drying out. My father suggests a dry out period of 3 months before I attempt anything further.

Someone had sloppily painted the entire top - perhaps in a primitive effort to waterproof - as there were some holes in the canvas (as seen where the paint is stuck to the wood) and breakage in the wood. The painted canvas had cracked into puzzle like pieces that came off without effort.

My budget doesn't allow for a professional restoration but I plan to carefully strip the paint off the black metal on top and remove the rust where needed. I also need to get some of the glue off the wood. My long term plan is to make this a welcome member of our family and eventually use it as rustic storage in our living room. I love the patina of the wood and way in which it was made. They don't make things like this anymore.

The working clasps have a number 2 imprinted on them and I read on the internet that these were patented in 1882. I cannot find anything on the lock which is an engraved black metal. There does not appear to be any patent info at all so maybe it wore off or it isn't patented or came from outside the US, but I think it's very pretty. Just wondering if anyone has ever seen a lock like this - I'd love to get some more info on the age of the trunk and maker.

Thank you for any comments.

Mystery Solved


  1. trunkman trunkman, 5 years ago
    That's a great trunk -- even in the state it is in. Getting the glue off is easy, just a scrapper and warm water and a cloth. Yes a good drying out period is in order. I have not seen this exact lock but some of similar style -- which I have been told is "East Lake Style". It looks like an 1880's trunk judging by the lock, clasps and general form. The little cast iron lip above the latch is called a finger lift which you see on well built trunks. If there is no label it is difficult to ascertain a maker as they were many in full production at the time making similar styles and types with shared pieces. Certainly a worthy restoration project and a great find -- congratulations!
  2. JakesMom JakesMom, 5 years ago
    Thank you so much for your comment and expertise, Trunkman - much appreciated. I'll try your suggestion with the glue. Read somewhere that it's horse glue so the sooner the better. East Lake makes perfect sense. I've looked at East Lake pieces on eBay in the past but never made the connection. Perhaps that's why the lock intrigued me so much. BTW, I enjoyed your trunk photos - you have great skill with restoration. Thank you again!

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