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Leather? Flat-top Trunk - Toronto - Canada

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    Posted 8 years ago

    (2 items)

    I recently acquired this trunk from my mother's estate. I know my sister bought it from an estate sale in the Sarnia, Ontario area in the 1970's. It is 32.5"W X 20.5"D X 21.5"H. The main centre lock is heavy brass made by Corbin Cabinet Lock Co, Conn, USA and the two trunk latches are Large #5's and made of heavy iron. All the metal is painted black. I think the trunk is entirely covered with leather - thick, flat and tacked with numerous 'nails'. The reinforcement strips are also tacked leather. It has 4 rollers on the bottom. I believe it is made of 'rough-sawn' slats of hardwood because it is heavy. There is a leather tag tacked to the front of the trunk that says, 'Manufactured by East & Company, Toronto, Canada'. I have not been able to find any information on this company, either on the internet or at the local library.
    I have included a photo of another trunk that I did see on the internet that is similar but with polished brass accessories. (no information available on that trunk either)
    If anyone can enlighten me in regard to the possible era of this trunk and/or any information on East & Company, I would be most appreciative. The curiosity is 'killing me'.

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    1. trunkman trunkman, 8 years ago
      You have a lovely trunk from around the late 1890's. Although it appears to be leather, I think it is probably vulcanized fiber, which is a cotton paper combination invented in 1859. If you look at the small tear on the top you may notice a grey material around the edge of it signifying that it is this material. It is great to have a manufacturer's name on it, which usually you do not see. Finding out any more about the actual company may prove a daunting task as they came and went with some regularity. Your trunk has all the nice hardware of a quality trunk like the guides at the front as well as cast iron latches and corner pieces. The body is usually made of pine as hard wood was more expensive and they usually did not use hardwood to then cover it over. The number 5 latches (5 denoting size) I believe were patented by the Taylor Trunk company and sold out as parts to others -- they are great latches. I have seen a few of these styled trunks out there but they are not as common as the one seen in your last photo. Thanks for the post and welcome to CW -- hope this helps a little.
    2. Kanuck, 8 years ago
      Thank you, Trunkman, for your comments. Yes.....I can now see the 'fiber' under the rubber (?) in that small spot on the lid. What was the term for the clothes hangers? They are also brass, I believe. I have checked inside the trunk and cannot find any 'knots' in the wood. It has a reddish tinge to it (but could that be from the wallpaper residue?). The 'planks' in the lid are 6 3/8 inch wide.
      Do you think I will ever get the musty smell out? I would like to shine the brass, clean the rubber?, clean the leather on the handles, etc. I guess there is only so much one can do to restore. Some of the 'nails' are rusty. I have written to the Toronto Library, so stay tuned......thanks so much for your help (and curiosity).
    3. walksoftly walksoftly, 8 years ago
      The Toronto library have City directories for that time period, they will have some info on the company, but not much. It will list owners, # of employees, address & by looking at several directories you should be able to determine years of operation.
    4. trunkman trunkman, 8 years ago
      Hi Kanuck -- the term "vulcanized" does not have anything to do with rubber. I am not sure what you mean about the hangers question. The reddish hue may be due to the glue or the trunk body may be made out of cedar -- a few of them where at the time. The musty smell can be dealt with by airing it out in the sun. Also I throw in a fabric softener sheet to help. There are a couple of other methods you could look up. Have fun with it...
    5. Kanuck, 8 years ago
      Hello Trunkman: Thank you so much for your comments. It is hard to describe, so I will attempt to come up with a good photo (have to borrow a good camera). The covering of this trunk looks like a perfectly flat piece of thick leather (or other material) over canvas? over the fiber you were talking about. It definitely is not covered (outside) with fiber. It is difficult when you don't want to tear it apart :) The brass 'hangers' or 'J'shaped hooks - one on the lid and one on the side of the trunk, which I presume are for hanging clothing, etc. The Toronto Library found East & Company, records from 1904 - 1968, but 'there is some evidence they were in existence prior to 1904'. Percy H. Finney, active in Toronto, specialized in preparing plans for speculative blocks of detached and semi-detached houses for a number of prominent builders. Finney was the Architect for the EAST & CO., Yonge Str. at Dundas Str. W. warehouse & factory at rear, 1904....demol.c.1968. Toronto Directory from 1866 listed Family by the Name of East as Umbrella makers at 298 Yonge Str. 'His designs are often undistinguished and his reputation rests on his output'. Silver Forums at has an ad dated 1903 for the Company....manufacturing sticks, whips, canes, parasols and umbrellas. Well, that's about all the info I have at this time, but I am anxious to get another photo up here for you.....I really do not know what this trunk is covered with. I wonder if he used some of his 'inventory' to make trunks? :)
    6. trunkman trunkman, 8 years ago
      The vulcanized fiber that I mentioned has multiple layers. The top layer is a hard painted shell like texture with softer grey material underneath. If it was leather it would normally be one layer of thickness and just leather -- no secondary material. Many people including myself when I began collecting trunks mistake this material for leather as it mimics some of its characteristics. Having said that I have been wrong before. Your assessment matters most because you have the piece in front of you. Perhaps it is leather with another type underneath for padding. If so it would be unusual and the first of its type I have come across. Neat that you have found some background info on the maker.
    7. colleen566 colleen566, 6 years ago
      I have a trunk just like the one on the end. I thought it was leather but it feels like hard rubber. Maybe the Fiber stuff? Can the warping and cracking be repaired?

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