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Some Common Trunk Makers and Their History

An Ongoing Effort  - We Can Use Your Help

We've been trying for ages to gather all of the information we can about some of the common trunk makers from days gone by.  It arrives in fits and starts - We'll find a label in a trunk here, an advertisement in an old magazine there.  if you have something to contribute, even a picture of a trunk label or something equally invigorating, and you're willing to share it, please feel free to drop us a note.  If you'd like to use this information somewhere else please request permission first.  We won't bite.       Much.

There are a number of books that purport to be the definitive guide to trunks, but most seem to have just a bit of information on this and that.  Someday we'll complete the book we've been working on since 1988, until then we've found a few that you might get a boot out of. Take a look at our Book and Tool section if you're interested.

If you'd like to print this out, take the advice of Phil Meyerson, a professional hypno-therapist out in Southern California:  Use legal paper and print using the landscape setting, that way everything seems to fit a little better, rather than those annoying extra sheets that have one little line.

We recently added a new section ot the website that just flat lists the trunk makers that we're familiar with through our work here in the barn.  So far we've only gotten part way through the alphabet. Take a look if you feel like it.


Click Here to See Our List of Trunk Makers

Trunk Advertisements, Postcards, Labels, etc.

Autorobe trunks
These old wardrobe trunks were made by Autorobe.  These were designed just for trips by auto - sized correctly to fit in your trunk.  The car's trunk I mean.  Your trunk in the car trunk.  Got it?  Confusing, but it all makes sense when you try to drive a trunk, or ...forget it. 

These were made in Virginia beginning in about 1912.  We're not sure when they went under, but it was somewhere before 1940.

Belber made loads of suitcases and wardrobe trunks, starting before the turn of the last century.  Their wardrobe trunks were very well made.  They even marketed a line of collapsible hangers, made of rope as shown in the ad on the right.  For more on Belber click here.
Belber trunk historyBelber Trunk Co
William Crockett & Co
William Crockett & Co.
Early to mid-1800s, harness maker who made trunks as a sideline.
Charles F Cushing Trunk Maker
Charles F. Cushing
Apparently this guy made trunks in New Bedford, Mass.  We've only seen his advertising card, never have been able to find a trunk with his label on it.
Duguid Brothers Trunk Co
Wall trunks were made by several companies, most famous of which was the M.M. Secors line.  Duguid Brothers were less well known, and their trunks sold more to the middle class of travelers.  Not steerage, not sunny topside, right smack amidships.  Handy for pushing against the wall in a small room.
Made in Utica, New York, starting in 1890.  They made trunks from several varieties of wood, including mahogany, teak, pine, oak, birch, and ash.  Maybe others that we haven't seen yet.  Usually has a brass tag on the outside, near the lock.  More tags and labels are posted here.
Faber Trunk CoFaber Trunk
Find one of these old Florida Trunks and you've got a keeper on your hands.  Many of them were covered in real alligator skin, straight from right about where the Miami Dolphins play now.  They advertised by sending out these postcards all over the east coast.  We believe they operated from about 1925 until around 1948.
Florida Trunk Mfg Co
Hartmann Trunk Company...Hartmann HistoryHartmann Trunks...Hartmann Travel Trunks and Bags
A very popular name in trunks, bags, traveling cases and the like.  Still in business today.  Most of these ads shown here are from the 1920s.  We're not experts on Hartmanns.  The people who really know Hartmann stuff know it inside and out.  Who are they?  Darned if we know. 

Hartmann is still in business, and you can visit them online by clicking here.  They have an interesting section of the website that describes the company's entire history, beginning in 1877.  Click here to see the history section of Hartmann's site.

Old Homer and his folks made wall trunks and dresser trunks out in Toledo, Ohio.  Dresser trunks open up as shown in the old ad here.  Drawers slide out, compartments open.  Very handy.  These trunks are a bit rare.  Started in 1904 or so.
Homer Young Trunk
Indestructo Trunk
Yes, these trunks were very hard to break or damage.  Of course, they looked awful, but they lasted.  Responding to a more thrifty America, Indestructo competed with Neverbreak, Nevermar, Nevercrack, Travel-Well, and a few others to make trunks that had no appeal but would last forever.  1920s.  Don't spend too much for these.
My old pal Hank made some wonderful trunks in his day, which was back in the mid-1800s.  Started around 1840.  Based in Rochester, NY, Likly trunks were known for their good looks and functional elements.  They made wardrobe trunks, overnite bags, valises, standard box trunks, and even some hatboxes.  Look for the original brass tag, as shown. 

Likly Trunk

Likly Trunk Company...Henry Likly Trunk
C.A. Malm & Company
Operating in San Francisco starting back in 1868 - still in business today as Malm Luggage.  Visit them by clicking here.
C A Malm TrunkCA Malm & Co Trunk
Marshall Field Trunks
Before they were known for their department stores, Marshall Field made a lot of trunks.  Mostly all standard box trunks, a little short in snappy features, but they worked and lasted well.  Covered trays were standard issue.  Started late 1800s, made trunks up until the 1940s, as near as we can tell.
Secor made the Champion Wall Trunk, which was a good seller for the company, along with many other styles.  Probably responsible for the manufacture of millions of trunks.  Based in Racine, Wisconsin.  Started business in 1862, patented wall trunks in 1894, 1895, and 1897.  Many of his wall trunks had a 'hip-roof' style, like the barns you'd see if you were out there in Wisconsin.  Maybe he was inspired.

Matej Zika (1843-1911) of Strakonice, Bohemia learned harness making trade. After settling in Racine, WI, he opened a shop there. In 1862 he commenced manufacturing trunks and his business grew into immense trunk factories under the name M. M. Secor Trunk Co., the oldest manufacturer of trunks and traveling bags in the US.

Secor TrunksMM Secor Trunk Co
Nathan Neat trunkNathan neat Trunk Co
Smack in the middle of Boston there was a two-block area where trunks were being made by several different shops - it was a heated competition.  Neat competed with Burr and many others, vying for market share.  Most of Nate's trunks were black - achieved with a thick, soupy aniline dye.  He had high employee turn-over.  Started business, as near as we've been able to tell, around 1822.  We think he closed up in 1847 or so.
Two factories, one in Madison, the other in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  Started business in 1912, and stuck it out for many years.  They made suitcases, wardrobes, and smaller bags.  Built to last, and very attractive.  If you find one of these it's usually in very good condition. 

OshKosh Trunk HistoryOshKosh Trunk Co

OshKosh Trunk CoOshKosh Trunks
P&S Trunk Company
P&S had this unique yellow lithograph inside each of their trunks.  It says "Trunks that Wear Everywhere" and their trunks usually are showing some wear just about everywhere, but we don't think they meant it that way.  Late 1800s to early 1900s.
ED Reynolds Trunk
E. D. Reynolds Trunk & Bag
From Fremont Street right in downtown Portland, Maine, operating from about 1800 until who knows when.  This label was a bit garish, wouldn't you say?  If you've seen the picture on our home page (the trunk with the pumpkins behind it), that trunk was a Reynolds.
Trunks, bags, valises, military and fire caps, belts, etc.  Boston-based, operating in the mid 1800s.  Roulstone took over as successor to Robert Burr on Tremont Street in Boston.
Roulstone Trunks
Seward Trunk & Bag
Seward Trunks
Claiming to be the largest baggage co. in the world, Seward was based in Petersburg, VA.  Postcard shows the factory.  Price list above from 1904 shows trunk prices averaging around $2.00.  Middle-class trunks, nothing too elaborate.  Still in business today; their footlockers may be purchased at large stores such as WalMart and others. 
Producing highly expensive bags, purses, and traveling cases (including trunks) from Paris and London, old Louie really made a name for himself.  These are sort of the big money trunks in this game.  Some are worth tens of thousands of $, and even some very beat up Vuittons sell for around $1,000.  There are many experts on Vuittons, but we are not one of them.  We learn a little more every time one of them shows up in the shop.  Vuitton is still in business; they have a website that provides some history of the company.

Louis Vuitton trunk history

Vuitton trunksVuitton trunks for saleVuitton trunk history
Producers of fine wardrobe trunks and smaller bags that looked like trunk/suitcase hybrids.  1930s.
Wheary TrunksWheary trunk history
The Trunk with Drawers

Winship was one of the very first makers of wardrobe trunks here in the US, according to their ads.  They made their first wardrobe trunks around 1884.  With locations in Boston and then later in Utica, New York, they also made specialty cases for musical instruments, surveying equipment, and other needs. 


Our complete list contains over 400 trunk makers - Holy Moly!


Our complete list contains over 400 trunk makers - Holy Moly!

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