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antique army trunk

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Unsolved mystery items50900 of 74545Vintage Platter 13" inchestiffany plate/and bavaria plate
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Posted 5 years ago


(2 items)

This is apparently an old military trunk I bought at a flea market. It's covered in a drab green covering of some sort,which is flaking off. It has leather handles . I love old trunks,but this one caught my eye because of the address on it,which is a very small town, which I am from. In the 3rd picture which I can't make out everything, it appears he was sending it to himself. I'm trying figure out an approximate age on it. The name on it appears interesting because the John C. Bates I have read about seems to have been very high up in the military. Anyone with any input? I would appreciate any info. or guesses about how old this might be or any other interesting tidbits. Thanks.

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  1. scottvez scottvez, 5 years ago
    The low serial number would lead me to believe it is WW2 era.

    Bates was a 2nd LT in the Military Police (MP).

    It is very common for military folks to ship items to themselves. I, and most Army folks that I served with, have done it many times. It is most common prior to deployments and while on deployments to get rid of items not essential.

  2. medicssiren, 5 years ago
    Thank you all so much!!
  3. scottvez scottvez, 5 years ago
    I forgot to note in my first post, but these were called footlockers. Soldiers would use them to store all of their gear and they were placed at the foot of the bunks. WW2 era images of barracks interiors will usually have some visible.

    The US Army actually issued these to soldiers. There are several styles, from simple plywood boxes to these more elaborate "officer" models. One of the first things a soldier would have done after being issued a footlocker, was to stencil his name, rank and service number on it.

    Wall lockers replaced these as the standard for barracks storage of gear.

  4. trunkman trunkman, 5 years ago
    Nice trunk and stenciling -- I am glad also to have learned from scottvez in regards to an army issue trunk. I did not know they were specifically issued. I stand corrected! Thank you for posting your trunk -- now I learned something new too...
  5. medicssiren, 5 years ago
    Hey Scottvez and trunkman,maybe you could help out with this...The name on the trunk is John C. Bates,when I tried to research this I found a John C. Bates that was a 2nd Lt. along with many other things. Now chances are it's not the same guy,but if it is I think he retired from the military in 1906. Also the maker of the trunk is now the company that makes Samsonite luggage. They started as Samson and Shwayder bros.,then changed the name to just Shwayder bros. and then Samsonite,if my info is correct. What do you think the chances are that this belonged to the same John C. Bates that there is so much info. on?
  6. scottvez scottvez, 5 years ago
    I am certain that this isn't the trunk of someone who retired in 1906. It may be pre- WW2 by a few years, but not that many. Additionally, service numbers weren't around at that time period.


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