By Ken from KY
It is indeed a steamer trunk. Don't use soap or Armor-all on that trunk. You will ruin it. Go to a saddle shop or farm store and get some saddle soap and a soft cloth for applying the saddle soap. Apply all over, and wipe it off. Re-apply a second coat and wipe it clean again. Also, don't put any water on it at all.
As for the brass fittings, use a little toothpaste and wipe clean.
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The project steamer trunk has very thin black leather over the wood. The original shipping labels and owner identification are intact, but the leather is brittle, peeling, and in some spots totally gone.What are my options to restore the exterior while preserving labels and owner ID?
There are a lot of videos on how to restore trunks on YouTube. I would watch a few and decide what is best for you and the trunk you have. Sometimes you have to see what people do and use to decide if it will meet your needs.
If it is just needing cleaning, you can try a quick test with some saddle soap (NO WATER, DO NOT WET THE CLOTH) and gently rub to see if it gets it clean and does no remove the stickers.
Some people like a very thin mod podge like sealer..I am not a fan. I found it damages, but some people swear by it. That is why I am thinking you are best to watch a couple of people do it live and see the actual reactions.
Years ago I used a spray on Krylon clear sealer for a wood and paper project...not sure that would work for the leather--but if you want, you can ask the Krylon people. Their toll free number is 1-800-457-9566.
I liked it for what I did, but it may not work for leather.
Post back what you learn.