Sewing, Refashioning, Repurposing & Thrifting Through Life

Have Trunk, Will Travel

Every few weeks we go treasure hunting. These are my favourite days. It’s just so much fun and I love that Mr. Restyle is all on board for this type of outing. He never says no! I believe he enjoys our “vintage days” as we call them as much as I do.

This particular Saturday it was his turn. He’s not the type of husband who asks for much. He wanted an old trunk. he found this:


Beat up old 1800s steamer trunk.

I am going to admit, I had no idea what to make of it. There are old things and then there are old, useless things. To me, this fell into the old and useless category. I mean, what on earth are we going to do with this? And more importantly, where in our house would we PUT this thing? I know people use them as coffee tables but this one isn’t flat on top and I really didn’t see it going with what will soon become our vintage 70s inspired living room but I gave in. I said yes. Yeah, I let him buy it.


The inside of the trunk contained paper that was peeling off. I think the paper was there to disguise the wood and make it seem “prettier.”

We searched everywhere on this old thing and couldn’t find any manufacturer’s marks. The only thing on it was the old sticker, which, with a bit of research, we discovered came from a train station in Switzerland.


Sticker from “Basel” train station, Switzerland.

This made things a little more interesting so we investigated further. We know it’s a European made trunk, but we do not know in which country it was made. Since there is very little hardware on the trunk, we know only that these styles were made and used in Europe from the 1880’s until as late as the 1920’s. Many parts of this type were used for many years, even on American made trunks.  Most likely the trunk is from about 1890 to 1910. It is a bit of an unusual style with the single slat across the top, but the double locks was not that unusual for European trunks.


Lock Detail

Estimating value is difficult for this since there are not as many examples being sold for comparison, so it often comes down to what someone believes it is worth to them. It is an interesting piece and an antique in original condition, so the estimate of its value based on similar items at auction or in shops in the U.S. is between $200 to $350. Our cost: $85.

Maybe we’ll hold on to it for a while. When I think about how old it is and where it’s been, I only wish I had the story of the person or people behind it. Where were they from? Where were they going? Were they leaving everything behind and starting life in a new country? How did it turn out for them. If only these treasures could tell us…


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