Restoring an Old Trunk

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Restoring an Old Trunk
I have an old trunk that was used by my grandparents when they came to the States from Newfoundland. The dimensions are approx. 32 in. wide x 20 in. deep x 22 in. high. All of the edges are metal, and there are metal straps and leather handles. It is covered in a material that is torn in places.

How can I tell if it is leather or canvas? Should the fabric be removed to expose the wood beneath it? I saw a similar trunk today that had been decoupaged with labels and sealed with polyurethane. What should I do?

Josie from Fairfax, VA

Answers:

Restoring An Old Trunk

I would leave the trunk as is! So often, people will "restore" an object, and it makes the object look almost new or makes it look like a reproduction piece. Often times, restoration takes away the character of the piece. Clean the trunk, by gently wiping over it. I would glue whatever is loose back on, and proudly display the trunk. Be sure to write the history of the trunk on a piece of paper and put the history in the trunk. (05/03/2008)

By Sharon

Restoring An Old Trunk

Josie, I just saw this piece you wrote. I hope you haven't done anything yet. I just asked my friend the other night about my mom's trunk, if I should refinish it. Her reply stopped me dead in my tracks. She said she wouldn't think of re-doing any family treasure simply for the fact their hand prints are all over it. Made me re-think all my treasures. Just a different view point. (05/03/2008)

By keeper60

Restoring An Old Trunk

I bought a George Burroughs and sons Milwaukee trunk for $5. I know that the founder died of heart problems in 1910 or so, and that he started in 1875. I want to find out how to clean it, I am pretty sure it is made of textured wood, and how to repair the rusted metal. The handles are leather and I am positive that one was replaced. So, how do I tell how old it is and how to restore it so I can keep it in my room and use it? (05/30/2008)

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