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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Vintage Antique Trunk Steel Veneer
I picked this trunk up at an auction and had no idea what a wonderful piece of history I had bought. There is a sticker on the front of this trunk that says Samson Steel Veneers Shwayder's Trunk Company Denver Colorado. This is a little history I found this Shwayder Bros. Samson trunk was made around the 1915's or so. Jesse Shwayder rolled the dice with his last $3500 and started making trunks in Denver around 1910.
Soon members of his family joined in the effort forming Shwayder Bros. Trunk Co. One of their early trunk lines was named "Samson" as a marketing strategy to promote the strength of the trunk. Later products are the more commonly known Samsonite Luggage and soon the small company grew to become the largest travel bag and case producer in the world. This is one of their early trunks marked "SAMSON" on the hardware. The lock say Excelsior which was a common maker of locks for these trunks.
Someone in a desperate bid to open up this big boy pried up the lid with I assume a crow bar breaking the bottom part of the lock and pulling the entire front out so the latches didn't line up. With the help of my husband we lined the front latches up and were able to shut and latch the trunk. Metal and wood have a memory and I was hoping that by re-latching and some gentle persuasion with a rubber mallet this fellow would remember it's original shape. Then I gave this trunk a thorough washing which revealed that the steel was originally a deep blue. I was able to reveal some of the brass but most of the
trunk was quite rusty but still solid. A little more pounding with the rubber mallet and I let him sit, latched, over night. The next day I was pleased to find that this trunk was beginning to remember and opened and shut with minimal effort from myself and every day since has improved. While I don't ever think it'll work perfectly it's working quite well given his age. I wanted to let the blue show through so I used only one coat of my custom mixed chalk paint in Old White.
Now it was time to hand sand for distressing. Because of the character of this trunk I decided a lot of distressing and aging would be perfect. I brushed out the interior and then vacuumed up the debris. I then made a mixture of Mod Podge, deep pink chalk paint and water, using this mixture I pasted down the loose and lifting original paper lining. I coated the entire interior with this mixture to give the paper lining strength and to seal it. I did the same to the lid which has a blue fabric lining. I love the look, it adds warmth and color to the interior. Now the entire trunk was ready for a hand waxing with clear paste wax. I waxed inside and outside. I then used a black paste wax lightly applying to enhance the texture and antique. Then to further enhance the blue I made
 a custom color colbolt blue wax and lightly brushed that onto the areas that were originally blue. I also felt the whole thing needed some brightening so I made up white wax and very lightly brushed it on strategically. Finishing with one more all over coat of clear wax to protect and seal. This Samson trunk never felt so silky smooth. I also used these same waxing techniques on the interior lining. The middle locking latch is not functional due it being locked and the bottom pried off but the side latches are in full working order. I like to think that this is a well traveled trunk, that it rode on trains across country or even crossed the ocean

for an overseas adventure. I'm sure it suited it's owner well back in its youth and can again be a beloved item in someone's home. This steamer trunk would be an excellent addition to any home decor use it for storage or as a coffee table, at the end of you bed for an brilliant bench with storage. No shabby chic home is complete with out an antique steamer trunk. Visit my Etsy store at

Recycled, Upcycled, Repurposed....Simply Lovely ~ Tre' Chic Designs
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  1. I recently purchased a trunk I believe is from the same line, how old do you think the trunk is? And if you don't mind my asking, how much did you pay for it?

  2. So you found a unique, hard to find piece of American history and decided that the irreplaceable relic would be better displayed covered in the idea that popped in your head. Blue and white brush strokes, vintage style. Not a bad idea if you consider available accessories, every big box, department and craft store in the country features metal decorative with blue and white brush stroke. Very bold artist you are to find a beautiful example of American history and say my personal alterations will really make this desirable. There is a chance that a trunk like the one in the before picture will never be seen again. Unfortunately there will also always be someone that decides to go artsy fartsy