Author Topic: info on 1880's humpback steamer trunk  (Read 6209 times)


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info on 1880's humpback steamer trunk
« on: July 31, 2011, 11:48:43 PM »
I recently viewed the post from a user regarding an 1880's humpback steamer trunk (Need Help Please with Info/value of Humpback Trunk from 1880's on: January 21, 2011, 08:57:28 AM).  I have a trunk extremely similar to this (same humpback, wooden slat style, same locks, slightly different leather handle, same interior construction including a "postcard" picture pasted on inside of lid (but picture is different).  Locks have same PAT JUL 972 date and the wooden slat anchors on lid also say PAT MAR 1880. 

I read waywardanglers comment that this is a fairly common immigrant trunk and have a question about that.... My trunk came through my father's family line who immigrated from Lithuania.  All these years, we assumed the trunk came over with them, but in recently restoring it this month (it was a SOLID piece of rust, no visible pattern or detail of any sort), I discovered the PAT JUL 972 stamps on the locks so then wondered if that meant it was purchased in the US, perhaps after they arrived.  Do you have any info on the manufacturer of these trunks, or where/when these were typically available?  They settled in Illinois, so your comment about the Midwest makes me think it was purchased there perhaps...  Any info you have would be great, even if it is just an educated guess!



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Re: info on 1880's humpback steamer trunk
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2011, 06:11:31 AM »
The patent number on the locks and slat anchors mean it would have been made after 1880 (1872 on the lock and 1880 on the anchors). Exactly when it was made is anybody's guess. When did your family leave Lithuania? If it was before 1880 then they would have bought the trunk here. This style of chest are called immigrant trunks because of their extensive use by people leaving Europe and coming to the US. If you have ever been to Ellis Island, there is a display of stacks of trunks that were used by immigrants, and I mean stacks.

These trunks were also sold by Sears (and others) through their mail order catalog for many years. Many families bought them here before traveling further west than New York. At the time, states bordering the Mississippi River (including Wisconsin and Illinois) were commonly regarded as out West. So your family could have purchased the trunk in New York before traveling further. The reason they are so common in the Midwest is due to the large number of immigrants settling here in the time period these trunks were used. The patent dates on the lock and anchors are from the manufacturer of those parts and not necessarily the maker of the trunk. I have seen one book on antique trunk collecting but do not remember the title.

Many Norwegian trunks were handmade in Norway and have rosmaling and other decoration on them. They are highly sought after and bring many $$$$ depending on the decoration and size. The trunk you are describing I see very often for less than $100 and if the condition is poor for less than $25.


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Re: info on 1880's humpback steamer trunk
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2011, 07:38:06 AM »
If the parts had a "patent date" would that indicate made here rather than overseas ?  I always assumed that it would be !!  Not sure if other countries used the patent system.