This page continues the display of the range of options for restoring antique trunks. The restoration options are clearly as varied as the styling and condition of the trunks and the imagination and preferences of their owners!
Aside from the very obvious poor condition of the surface of this trunk, it was missing the locking hasp, a replacement padlock type hasp had been attached, and it was missing a section of the bottom wooden stringer at the left as well as the metal corner bumper. In some areas the canvas was also fraying or lifting. Besides replacing the missing items and trimming and securing the loose canvas, we oiled this trunk with tung oil.
This is a World War One ammunitions trunk painted with a gun-metal gray paint and an indestructible blue undercoat. There was no reasonable way to remove the undercoat from the inside so it was left and oiled and waxed with the rest. We think it made for a very appealing look.
Here is a group of Asian Trunks we worked on. We cleaned and oiled the trunk to the left. The inside had not been oiled before and the pattern of the teak grain was phenomenal once oiled. Note the large solid plank construction. This trunk was custom made for this family in the late 1940s. There were also a few chips missing from the carved section which we rebuilt. Sorry, no detail pictures of those repairs. The trunks below and to the right also were transformed by oiling.
The trunk above should be a headliner for our display of trunks, but the photograph is pre-digital and a bad one at that. It has the rare distinction of having hand made screws holding it together in places. Hand cut screws indicates a most recent origin of the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Even then they were seldom used because so expensive to make. There were major shrinkage issues we remedied and we cleaned some paint off the surfaces.
The other five trunks in this section are all examples of different styles of trunks and different approaches to restoring them. Each has an appeal that some people will like and others not. When you think about restoring your trunk, you needn't think there is some arbitrary standard as to what should and shouldn't be done. It's your trunk! Do what pleases you. We will help you get there.
This picture is both a good story and sort of a disclaimer.
The couple who brought this trunk to us had picked it up from the curb in front of someone's house. It had been set out for a household waste pick up day. This couple had the good sense to see in this trunk something unusual and valuable so they gained the permission of the residents to pick it up and take it home. Next stop was actually our shop with the request that we restore it.
While talking to the former owners, the couple learned that this had been damaged in a burglary attempt. The trunk was empty but closed and locked when the burglary took place. The would be thieves broke the locking hasps apart and broke the left door. For nothing.
Looking at this we knew that if we did any work on it we had to do it right. We started researching a source for the fabric and locks. We discovered that the maker, Goyard, is still in business in Paris. We contacted them to obtain the parts we needed. They very politely replied that they were sure we were quite good at what we do, but strongly recommended that this be restored in their own restoration shop. They also mentioned that they would be interested in purchasing the item if the owners would be willing to sell.
We are not so bull headed that we could not understand the gently worded message they conveyed. There were things about this job that demanded the experience with Goyard pieces that only Goyard could possess. Here is our disclaimer: We are not omni-capable and are willing to admit it when it becomes obvious that specialization and experience beyond our own is required to do a first class job.
And here is the end of the story. We returned the trunk to our customers with the information and offer we received from Goyard. Our customers did end up selling the trunk to Goyard in its unrestored condition, for $5,000. Not bad for something put out for a curb side pick up day. And imagine how much it would have been worth undamaged. The real fools were those thieves. Instead of looking for hidden treasure within this trunk they should have seen the treasure that was standing in front of them. Instead of walking away with a thief's fortune had they taken the trunk itself, the only thing they walked away with that night was a damaged conscience.
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Restoring Trunks, Go To Page 1 3
It is unusual when a leather clad trunk comes in that the leather is still in good condition. Most often we see leather that is dried, cracking, and often, largely missing. Here, the leather handles were missing but the leather covering was still fully intact and in good shape. Our job, besides attaching new handles, was to clean and oil the leather. The result is a great improvement in its appearance!