Hide covered trunks are some of the earliest trunks made, most go back to at least the late 1700s to early 1800s. They were tough, functional trunks with little more adornment than brass nail heads, often arranged in a pattern spelling out the owner’s initials. Simple but sturdy locks were used as were hand-wrought iron handles. They were lined with newspaper (lucky for us it was the most available) or hand-decorated paper, sometimes a mixture of these; newspaper sometimes had added decoration in the form of many dots or squares printed atop the newsprint. Some trunks were left unlined. Hides used to cover the outside included, but were certainly not limited to deerskin, cowhide and horsehide. Deerskin is our favorite here since cowhide and horsehide are usually quite coarse. The makers of these historical objects were proud of their work and most of the earliest labels we’ve come across were inside this type trunk. The styles of the trunks varied from small rectangular document cases to much larger flat tops and round tops. Everything in life has its good and bad and sometimes the good and bad get shuffled around a bit. This trunk family holds some of the most precious of histories but are not the most attractive of antique trunks. This has caused many of them to end up being lost forever. Fortunately some end up in museums, others in private collections like our own at Treasured Chests. We however can’t keep everything we want, as you might guess and we would rather see these valuable items find their way back to their origins if possible. All the trunks below are offered as-is; they however, are safe and sanitary. We will make repairs at extra cost but as these are so old and historical, we’d prefer not.
Nathan Neat Round Top, Hide-Covered Trunk
One of our favorite trunk makers, Nathan Neat’s company was in business in Boston from at least 1825 to 1891. They produced many high quality hide-covered trunks. This particular trunk is in very good condition and still has its original label, in fact it’s all original. We’ll never know who JBK was but the initials are still there in brass nail heads, on the lid. The original dust shield is still around the lower lip of the lid. The original lining is still mostly intact and though slightly stained it’s sanitary. The trunk measures 24″ wide x 12″ deep (front to back) x 11″ tall. It dates back to the early 1800s. We found it in King, NC on one of our local trunk-hunting trips. This trunk is FOR SALE! As-is $599. Trunk # BQ0101
Robert Burr Flat Top, Hide-Covered Trunk
One of the most prolific trunk makers, Robert Burr was also in Boston, at least in the early 1800s. His trunks were so well made that a few have survived to this day. This particular trunk is in very good condition and still has its original label, in fact it’s all original. We’ll never know who HHP was but the initials are still there in brass nail heads, on the left end of the trunk. Most of the original dust shield is still around the lower lip of the lid. The original lining is still mostly intact and though slightly stained it’s sanitary. The trunk measures 33″ wide x 16″ deep (front to back) x 13″ tall. It dates back to the early 1800s.
Round Top, Deerskin-Covered Trunk
One of the oldest trunks we’ve ever had that has proof of its age, it’s also been in our collection the longest and is NOT FOR SALE. We found this one in Charleston, SC a long, long time ago. The handles are hand-wrought iron, the lock still works and the outside is covered in deerskin. The inside is lined with newspaper. The dateline on one paper is January 19, 1803. This was one year before Lewis and Clark started their “Corps of Discovery Expedition” that was commissioned by Thomas Jefferson. A signature of “W. Vanlear” is on the bottom of the trunk.