A steamer trunk is a type of luggage which takes the shape of a large rugged trunk with a flat top. These trunks were built for long trips, specifically on steam trains and boats; the flat top makes a steamer trunk easier to handle and stack. Many people continue to use steamer trunks for travel and shipping today, and some people also keep a steamer trunk around the house for use as a storage chest. Steamer trunks are often found in vintage stores in varying conditions, and some companies also manufacture steamer trunks which can be purchased new from specialty luggage suppliers.
Typically, the body of a steamer trunk is made from thick wood or metal, and it is often strapped with metal or leather bands to ensure that it is extremely sturdy. A frame of metal or wood may be enclosed inside the steamer trunk so that it can endure heavy impacts and the weight of luggage stacked on top of it. Typically, the inside of a steamer trunk is lined with leather, fabric, or paper, and a decorative design is often used on the lining. The exterior of the trunk may be lined with leather or embossed metal, and it may be plain or highly decorative.
On vintage steamer trunks, decorative features like embossed metal corners on the edges of the trunk are common, while modern steamer trunks tend to be more streamlined. The trunk also typically includes two sturdy handles on either side of the trunk so that it can be moved, and it may include lockable latches for security. Some steamer trunks come with straps to go around the trunk, ensuring that it stays closed and providing a handle.
The size of a steamer trunk varies. Smaller versions can be moved by one strong person, as long as they are not heavily loaded, while larger steamer trunks may require two porters or a handcart. Classically, people painted their initials on their steamer trunks to make them easier to identify, and many vintage trunks are also covered with luggage stickers from various shipping companies; some people like to collect these stickers.
A vintage steamer trunk in good condition can be quite costly. It is also possible to find restored vintage trunks, with most of their original features intact and replacement for damaged things like the lining or handles. Some people enjoy purchasing old steamer trunks and refurbishing them, and many antique shops have at least one steamer trunk lurking in their depths. In addition to being decorative, a steamer trunk can also be quite useful; it can be laded with possessions for moving or long trips on board a ship, and some steamer trunks even come with organizing tools like hangers for clothing, shelves, or pull-out drawers and trays.