About Steamer Trunk
Prior to the advent of inexpensive, mass produced suitcases, travellers planning to stay away from home for any great length of time would resort to transporting their luggage in a trunk or travelling chest. These large containers were of sturdy construction designed to withstand the rigours of travel. The use of trunks dates back thousands of years but the style we are familiar with today evolved from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries, including the steamer trunk, often referred to in its day as a ?flat top?.
Steamer trunks are named after the mode of transport which was in its heyday during their period of popularity. These trunks would be kept in the cabin of a steam ship or ?steamer?. They first began to appear in the late 1870s, but entered a peak of production in the period from 1880 to 1920. As their nickname suggests, steamer trunks had either flat or perhaps slightly curved tops and were generally covered in leather, canvas or perhaps patterned paper and were of a size suggested by steamship luggage regulations. Sometimes known as packers or cabin trunks, the name steamer seems to have outlasted the other terms and this is how this design is now known.
Today steamer trunks are seldom used for their original purpose, yet are increasingly popular purchases from antique shops and auctions. They are used for general storage or even as conversation piece coffee tables. They can require restoration, but can easily be made as good as new.
Available are vintage steamer trunks in various conditions, some fully restored and others in need of some care and attention. Additionally new steamer trunks can be purchased, as they are still being produced by specialist manufacturers.