Feb 17, 2012

An old trunk's history

Hey all, and happy Friday! I'm just popping in to share with you some information about my old trunk that I thought you'd find super-cool (if you totally geek out about the history of antique and vintage finds like I do!).

I did some online searching after I bought the trunk to find out the best way to restore it to some of its former glory and stumbled across this fabulous resource called Brettuns Village Trunk Services. Not only is this site informative, but it's also seriously entertaining to read -- it had me laughing out loud with writing like this: "We can tell you countless stories of the folks who have dragged their sorry behinds into the shop, red eyes, begging for Grandad's trunk back. We tell them we're sorry, but the trunk was sold to a guy in Minnesota who stores his cross-dressing supplies in it when he isn't using it as a stand for his piranha tank."

I was delightfully surprised to discover that this trunk shop is located right here in Maine, and, actually, probably less than 20 miles from my house. The universe is crazy like that!

So I felt a deep connection to this place when I sent them an email with some photos of my trunk, asking if they could tell me anything about its origins. I didn't expect a reply, at least not a timely one, since their website said they get dozens of emails a week and it's often hard to ID a trunk through photos. So I was surprised all over again when, bright and early the next morning, I received an email back from the manager, Churchill Barton. Here's what he had to say about my trunk's history:

Many trunks of this style were made by larger contract factories and then sold through the Sears or Wards catalogs back in the 1880s up through about 1910.  If you can find an old Sears catalog from way back then you can probably find a picture of this trunk in there, and it was probably priced at about $2.25 or maybe $2.50, believe it or not.  Two of the larger makers of these trunks were MM Secor and M. Meier, both of whom employed several hundred workers. 

He also said the casters on the bottom are original, but some other hardware, like screws holding the lid hinges on, are not original: "(there were no screws used on old trunks, ever)(not one)(I mean it)." I think it's safe to assume Mr. Barton is the hilariously sarcastic writer behind the website, don't you think? :)

I just think it's so cool to think about this trunk being made over 100 years ago, advertised in a Sears catalog, purchased and used who knows where, and now it's made its way to me, and could maybe last another 100 years if I refinish it right (and my kids and grandkids think it's equally as cool and hang onto it or sell it instead of tossing it in the trash). Just thinking about touching something that other hands touched way back before there were cars and phones and all kinds of other modern conveniences puts me in awe. The world has changed so much, but this little trunk is still kicking! Super. Awesome. (See, I do totally geek out to this stuff!)

If you've got an old trunk or now totally want one, check out Brettuns Village for lots of tips for refinishing. They also sell all kinds of replacement parts -- I'm thinking of buying some new leather handles for my trunk, since those have totally fallen apart.

Hope you all have a good weekend! If you go out and buy yourself a trunk, I want to see pictures. :)

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