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Saturday, May 29, 2010


















Discovering an authentic antique dome top trunk in this size that hasn’t been messed around with in any way is really exciting. For several reasons, I think I can make a good case for this being a salesman’s sample trunk in spite of one thing that might tend to throw you off a little. But more on that in a jiffy. Let’s take a close look inside and out – top to bottom.


I was almost afraid to open it when I first spotted it. I just knew the tray wouldn’t be in there, but it was. Halleluiah! They’re almost always gone.

The trunk is 16” by 10 ½” by 14” to the top of the shaped dome. That is larger than most doll trunks / child’s trunks but an appropriate size for a sample of what this Louisville, Kentucky trunk and bag maker produced.


The only thing of any consequence missing is the pair of leather handles, which are easily replaced. The oak strips are in great condition, and they glow with a mellow patina. The outside is decorative paper, and as you’d expect, it has darkened, age toned and suffered some losses. If you are a trunk restorer or an avid collector of American country things, you’re going to be thrilled even if I can’t convince you it is a salesman’s sample.


So let me begin by pointing out the label just below the little boy’s portrait inside the lid. The maker is “T. J. Guthrie & Co.” of Louisville, Kentucky. I can’t imagine finding a maker’s label in nicer condition. But wait. There’s more.


Turn the trunk upside-down, and you’ll find another label for T. J. Guthrie & Co.. This is the only time I’ve ever seen a maker’s label both inside and on the bottom. Since we’re here, notice how nice the oak strips have remained . . . even on the bottom.


I haven’t done anything approaching an exhaustive search for the T. J. Guthrie & Company, but I have a feeling it may have preceded “Chilton Guthrie & Company” of Louisville also, but at a different address. Chilton Guthrie was at 522 West Main Street, and T. J. Guthrie & Company was at 409 4th Avenue. Maybe someone can straighten us out on that.


OK. That image shows one end, and it is the end that has the “thing that might throw you off” from thinking it is a saleman’s sample. “KATIE” is printed on the paper on that end.

I can hear a trunk salesman saying, “We can even personalize it for you.” Then again, maybe this one actually was, and it’s a child’s / doll trunk. I say, what ever. It’s the nicest one I’ve found in 55 years.


The tray lifts out using the finger holes on either end. Please note the decorative card on top of the dome-shaped tray lid is also missing the upper section. No big deal. Just wanted to point it out.


Like most, the domed lid of the tray was hinged with canvas nailed in place. And like most, the nails have pulled through the canvas, but they are still there. I’d either glue the canvas back in place or leave it the way it is even though the lid is separated from the tray.


I was looking on a couple “trunk restoration” web pages. They sell replacement paper, hinges, most everything you’d ever want if you are restoring a trunk. This one would be the star of any show if you did that. (Or, had it done professionally.)


Almost forgot: I don’t have the key . . . surprise, surprise, but the latch and lock are both still in place.


The hinges on the back are as strong and functional as the day it was made. I’d say that was sometime back in the 1870s or 1880s, but I could be off a little. A real trunk pro would likely know for sure.


That’s the lithographed card atop the tray lid.


It has remained sturdy and strong – no problems there at all.


You’ll be absolutely thrilled. I guarantee it.







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Antique STONEWARE CROCK 3 Gal JAR Cream POT sgnd YOUNG-$80

From the very moment I spotted this big 12" tall, 3 gallon, 1860-ish crock I knew I just had to have it: Not because it is a pristine example of a rare form; not because it is stamped by a famous maker, although it may be; and not even because it’s such a decorative piece of hand thrown salt glazed stoneware with a nice Albany slip inside.


I fell in love with it because, probably of its own accord, it decided to become oval rather than round. The round base is 7” in diameter. The sides taper gracefully to a nice high shoulder, and there are four incised lines at the base of the 2 ½” “neck,” just exactly at the center of the two ear handles.


The more observant of you may look at the first image, then the second, and think to yourself, “Hang on a minute. The shape seems a little different.” Good for you. You are correct.

Some may call what happened a catastrophy – some a flaw – some a kiln accident; but I have lessened the result of “when things went haywire” all the way down to a peccadillo – possibly even one than became a very handy plus for the happy owner way back over 150 years ago when it was new. I’ll do my best to explain that in a minute, but let’s look first at what the devil I’m talking about.

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