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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Steamer Trunk (ca. 1908)

The Restored Steamer Trunk

A recent project to come through the shop was the restoration of an old steamer trunk.The customer who owned the piece said it has passed down through her family and that she would like to have it restored. Not much is known about this trunk except that the lock that was on the trunk said "The H&A Lock Company Patented December 10th 1907" around the keyhole. There were no indications that this lock was a replacement so I assume it to be the original. If that is true then the trunk would have to have been made after that date and was probably made at the earliest sometime in 1908. 

The trunk was made of pine that was covered in canvas or linen and tin. The wood slats that are mounted to the surface appeared to be made of Chestnut. The trunk was also adorned with leather straps and handles as well as a lock and fasteners, making it quite a chore to open and close the trunk, and also making it hard for the contents to unintentionally escape!

The condition of the trunk as it came to me was pretty bad. The exterior straps and handles had rotted and were largely missing. There were also significant portions of the canvas missing from the top. The interior of the trunk, which had been papered was torn and brittle, and also smelled of mildew. In essence, this trunk really needed some help! That being said, the damage was reversible and the customer and I decided to go ahead with the project. Below are a few photos of the trunk as it came into the shop.

The front
 The back.
The top.
Missing handles from the sides.

The interior with the rotted paper lining.

This photo is of the inner tray which was also papered.
After removing the paper from the interior and removing the finish from the Chestnut slats, the entire trunk was masked with newspaper with the exception of the portions that were covered in tin, which was originally painted black. The Photos below shows this part of the project

After it was masked, The tin portions were painted with Rust inhibiting black spray paint. This quickly brought the black look back to these sections. After the paint had dried the paper was carefully removed.

These next few photos show the interior after it was sanded. After the interior was sanded it was painted with Kilz primer. This is not standard procedure for me, but I thought it was a good idea to try to contain the mildew smell in the interior.

After the paint had dried on the interior, the new paper was applied to the entire interior and the tray. Below are some photos of the interior after the paper was applied.

The exterior of the trunk was finished with shellac to bring back the nice brown color of the canvas. The lock was also replaced due to the fact that someone had broken the original trying to open it. The leather straps and handled were also replaced. Here are a few photos of the completed trunk.

At the end I included two photos of the old lock which was kept with the trunk as part of its history.