Flat Top Trunks:  Flat top trunks are just what the name implies; a trunk
that is flat (or slightly curved) on top.  These trunks were box construction
and usually had tray(s), but no extras. These were probably the most
common and therefore; usually the least expensive.   They came in all sizes,
from doll size on up.  I have had one that was about 42" in length. (example
below)





Dome Top Trunks:  As the name implies, this trunk has a dome or curved
top.  These are often referred to as camel back, round top, hump back or the
fancier saratoga/brides trunk.  These trunks run the gamut from very plain,
to very ornate.  These trunks usually had covered compartments in the lid
and a tray(s) in the bottom that had various compartments.  Many times the
tray would house a hat box and a parasol compartment.

Saratoga or Bride trunks were generally larger  and more ornate than other
dome top trunks.  They had many compartments and trays, some having
secret areas behind the compartments for valuables. (example below)










Half or Hat Trunks:  These trunks come in a variety of styles, but were
only about half the size of a regular trunk.  These trunks are great to collect
or display because they don't take up as much space as its larger
counterpart.  (example below)





Jenny Lind Trunks:  These trunks are easily recognized by their "figure
8", "loaf of bread" shape or their curved keyhole shape.  They were
generally leather covered with iron bands around them and brass buttons
to affix the bands.  The more exquisite ones had brass bands, brass
buttons, and brass locks along with  nicely detailed compartments inside.  
These trunks were named for the Swedish singer of the same name, Jenny
Lind, who made a concert tour in America in the early 1850's and carried
trunks of this shape with her. (example below)





Oak Slat Trunks:  Unlike most trunks that were built with a secondary
wood like pine for the body and a hard wood such as oak for the slats, this
trunk's  entire body is covered with oak slats.  Oak slat trunks were made by
only a few U.S. Companies. The most popular oak slat trunk is the Excelsior
Trunk.  The only patent that I can find related to Oak Slat Trunks was given
to Jonathan Smith Eaton of Roxbury, MA who obtained an "Improvement In
Trunks" patent on January 7, 1868.  It was patent
#72988, the object of
which was "to construct a trunk in such a manner as to combine great
strength and durability, with economy in manufacture, and elegance in
external appearance; and the invention consists in covering the frame of a
trunk with narrow strips of wood, laid in close proximity to each other, all
around it's top and sides." Over a year later on October 26, 1869, Jonathon
S Eaton obtained a "Design For Covering Trunks" Design
#3,727, which
sta
ted his objective was to "produce a cheap imitation of trunk patented by
me January 7, 1868.  The trunk then patented was covered with strips of
wood.  This construction makes a very superior trunk, but expensive.  Now,
as the style is desirable, I have found that a paper covering, in imitation of
my patent trunk, would be desirable also."
 You can follow the links I've
created in the patent and design numbers above to view the actual patents
in PDF files on "Google".
Due to their short production, unique construction
and beauty,
Oak Slat Trunks are among the rarest and most sought after
trunks today. Oak
Slat Trunks were also made by a number of trunk makers
including
Martin Maier, Clinton, and the El Paso Slat Trunk Company.  
(Some Oak Slat trunk examples below)












Louis Vuitton Trunks:  These trunks are named for Louis Vuitton, who
started manufacturing trunks in Paris, in 1854.  These are high end trunks
and usually very high priced.  For more information, please check the Louis
Vuitton website or one of the dealers that specialize in these trunks.  
(example below).





Doll Trunks:  These trunks were miniature toy versions of the larger
trunks being used in the mid to late 1800's and into the 1900's.  Doll trunks
came in the same shapes as the larger trunks and were also decorated like
the larger ones.  As with larger trunks, many had ornate trays,
compartments, and decorations.  (examples below)







Specialty Trunks:  Much of the popularity of trunks is the many varied
styles.  Most of the ones listed above were for general travel or storage, but
when other needs arose, trunks were built to fit those needs.  Some trunks,
such as Taylor trunks, were built for tools or musical instruments and were
known to be heavy duty trunks.  The front of a Theater trunk opened and  
revealed drawers, a mirror and extra trays that would have been used for
costumes and make-up for theater troupes.  Wardrobe trunks generally
would have set on end and when opened would have drawers on one side
and hanging space on the other.   (examples below)
Trunks were made in varying shapes and sizes and from many different
materials over the course of hundred's of years.  They began as very
primitive cases covered in animal hides and improved in both their design
and ornamentation in the late 1800's.

With the advent of the railroad and the move to settle the west coupled with
worldwide travel via ships, the number and variations of trunk designs
changed significantly.  Some of these styles are represented below.

Trunk makers became common and often copied each others styles.  There
were manufacturers who specialized in trunks but most cities had
blacksmiths who built trunks as a sideline business.

I like to think of trunks as todays suitcase or overnight bag.  People used
trunks to store their personal belongings and they basically lived out of
them as they traveled.

Trunks like most other things came in varying levels of quality.  From the
basic flat top trunk to the popular Jenny Lind trunk to the ornate Saratoga
or Brides trunk to the rare oak slat or Louis Vuitton trunk.

There are several people who have done extensive research on trunks and
their history and they are much more knowledgeable than I am.  Check
Marvin Miller's web site
"This Old Trunk" for information on trunk history
and his research.  You can also find information in Linda Edelstein and Pat
Morse's book
"Antique Trunks".
Rare Excelsior Oak Slat Half Trunk
Antique Stallman Theater Trunk
Antique Stallman Theater Trunk Inside
Antique Jenny Lind Civil War Trunk
Antique Jenny Line Civil War Trunk
Antique Jenny Lind Trunk
Antique Jenny Lind Trunks
Antique Saratoga Bride's Trunk Inside
Antique Excelsior Oak Slat Doll Trunk
Antique Theater Doll Trunk
Antique Theater Doll Trunk Inside
Antique Camel Back Doll Trunk
Antique Camel Back Doll Trunk Inside
Antique Leather Covered Half Trunk
Antique Jenny Lind Doll Trunk
Antique Jenny Lind Doll Trunk
Antique Excelsior Oak Slat Doll Trunk Inside
Antique Excelsior Oak Slat Trunks
Antique Flat Top Cabin Trunk
Antique Flat Top Steamer Trunk
Antique Flat Top Steamer Trunk
Antique Dome Top Trunk
Antique Half Trunk Lined with Easter Seals
Louis Vuitton Trunk
Louis Vuitton Trunk
Louis Vuitton Trunk
Antique Leather Covered Saratoga Bride's Trunk Inside
Antique Leather Covered Saratoga Bride's Trunk
Antique Leather Covered Saratoga Bride's Trunk
Antique Saratoga Bride's Trunk
Antique Saratoga Bride's Trunk
Antique Saratoga Bride's Trunk Inside
Antique Civil War Half Trunk
Antique Half trunk
Antique Half Trunk Inside
Antique Flat Top Steamer Trunk
Antique Flat Top Steamer Trunk Inside
Antique Oak Slat Trunk
Antique Jenny Lind Doll Tunk
Antique Jenny Lind Doll Trunk
Antique Red Leather Jenny Lind Doll Trunk
Antique Jenny Lind Doll Trunk