Q: I bought an old trunk 40 years ago and would like to know something about it. The emblem on the trunk says “Wheary Cushioned Top Wardrobe Mfg. by Wheary-Burge Trunk Co., Racine, Wisconsin.” Can you tell me the vintage and value of it?
A: Wardrobe trunks were first made in the late 1800s and were especially popular in the 1920s and ’30s. When stood on end, they served as a temporary “closet” for the traveler, with space for hanging clothing on one side of the open trunk and drawers for smaller items on the other side. George H. Wheary was a designer for the Hartmann Trunk Co. and was granted several patents for improvements to trunks from about 1907 to at least 1947. Wheary and fellow employee Harry Burge opened the Wheary-Burge Trunk Co. in 1922. The Wheary-Burge Cushioned Top Wardrobe came with a removable shoebox, hat carrier and laundry bag along with 10 hangers. The cushioned top held the hangers in place. The trunk was advertised in a 1923 newspaper for $49.50. Later, the company’s name became Wheary Luggage Co. It was sold to Hartmann Luggage in 1954. Collectors today use old trunks as coffee tables or for extra storage space. Value of your trunk is $25 to $50.