Made to Last: Hartmann Gibraltarized Wardrobe Trunk

An impromptu visit to Mom turned into a treasure hunt around local vintage haunts. My keen eye and interest for well-constructed and interesting pieces was cultivated from a young age by parents who took no care in dragging their offspring to auctions, boot sales, and bazaars. Perhaps this is why I feel perfectly comfortable navigating arcades, aisles, and rooms filled with dusty artifacts. But it was on one unseasonably warm February afternoon in Southern California that I happened to walk into one of the largest and most exciting finds I’ve had yet.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that I have found a prime example of a Hartmann Gibraltarized Panama Wardrobe Trunk from the 1920s like the one pictured in this trade book from 1922. Thanks to Google Books and their grand digitization efforts, I’ve been able to track down a handful of advertisements featured in periodicals. Such gems include:

The trunk I happened to stumble upon is a great example of a personalized trunk that could have been a gift for a graduation, birthday, or wedding. The exterior has the initials E.R. stamped in red. Though the original Yale lock is still intact, the keyhole was busted open some time ago.

Hartmann Gibraltarized Panama Trunk

Hartmann Gibraltarized Panama Trunk

 

The Yale lock bar for the interior drawers, pant hangers, shirt hangers, laundry bag, and shoe box are all in accompaniment.

Hartmann Gibraltarized Panama Wardrobe Trunk  interior

Hartmann Gibraltarized Panama Wardrobe Trunk interior

The trunk has seen some light wear in its 95 years. The rusting bolts, hinges, and corner brackets only add to its overall charm. Though the trunk is in overall decent repair, it is missing one drawer; and the H and A in the Hartmann cross logo on the side of the trunk have since flaked off due to handling. The rest of the label is cracked and barely adhered. I bet a kitten’s sneeze could dislodge it.

I’m in the process of rearranging my home office/bar (because, priorities) and eager to transform this well-maintained wardrobe trunk into an office supply organizer. Perhaps one day it’ll serve its duty during a move, but for now I’ll be perfectly content displaying this unique find while also having a non-traditional spot to stash stationary and stuff.

Have you found an interesting piece of luggage or a trunk and repurposed it in your home? I’d love to find out what other creative, vintage enthusiasts are doing with their wardrobe trunks. Please comment below or Tweet!

Advertisements

Vintage Vanity Flair: Painted Glass Bottles with Stoppers Dresser Set

There are those occasions where the mister will gladly come along on an estate sale run and surprise me with a good find. On Black Friday, we had an inordinate amount of luck.

Maybe its because we started the day with a sunrise drop off at LAX; or perhaps it was the brisk & invigorating walk around downtown’s historic core a quarter past 7. No, no . . . it was due to the incredible breakfast we had at Nickel Diner. But that review is just going to have to wait for another time to shine.

The real winner at the estate sale would have been the person that scored this gem of a breakfast set. The chairs had a great weight to them, and the details on the table were well maintained. Pay close attention to the circle under the table. Look at those painted details!

Featured image

Mid-century modern breakfast set. Blue chairs and legs with cream seat covers. Golden accents throughout.

My breakfast nook situation at home is already pretty stellar, and without the room to spare, I had to pass on the gorgeous breakfast set. My consolation prize was finding an easy way for the mister to fulfill his Christmas stocking obligation.

I came across a bathroom set. Well, at first I thought it belonged on a vanity because the bottles were placed on a mirrored tray. After reading the bottle labels it became apparent that this grooming set may have found a home on a counter in a bathroom.

There are five painted clear glass bottles with stoppers. Four of them are labeled and they are:
1. Mouth Wash
2. Toilet Water
3. Boracic Acid
4. Peroxide

Vintage glass bottles with stoppers atop a mirrored tray make a lovely dresser or vanity set.

Vintage glass bottles with stoppers atop a mirrored tray make a lovely dresser or vanity set.

One of the bottles is unlabeled. The blue paint on the stopper and on the bottle itself is a different shade than that of the rest of the set. I wonder if it’s a replacement bottle?

The painted glass bottle with stopper bathroom set is a welcome addition to my art deco vanity. I may readapt the use of the bottles as single-stem vases. That would give my little feminine corner of our room a dose of color and a graceful air.

While I don’t want to speculate as to my husband’s holiday shopping status, I will certainly acknowledge that he’s off to a very good start.

Summer Traditions: Soda Fountain Stops

In case you live in SoCal & haven’t felt your face melt while running errands or going to work in the last 2 days, here’s another reminder. Its hot out. Excessive heat warning and flex alert hot.

Though I’ve got a window-unit blasting, I’m yearning for some good ol’ fashioned refreshment. No, not beer. I’m talking about soda fountain standards prepared by soda jerks. There are few American traditions in hospitality as intact as soda fountains. Lucky for me, the Pasadena institution known as Fair Oaks Pharmacy isn’t too far off the beaten path.

For the last few years I’ve made a habit out of making a pilgrimage to Fair Oaks Pharmacy during the dog days of summer. Ordering a giant sundae to share somehow seems more reasonable when the mercury is hovering around triple digits. Extending the invitation is also a treat. I mean, who doesn’t perk up when invited out to our own little slice of Americana in the heart of Pasadena?

Fair Oaks Pharmacy first opened in 1915, but it wasn’t until a couple restored it back to it’s soda fountain glory that it was re-introduced to a whole new generation. I’m so glad it’s still around to share sundaes & chats in! Do you have any summer traditions and tricks to staying cool? Share in the comments below!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a sundae to make. (photo courtesy of Sarah Wise)

A classic sundae.

A classic sundae at Fair Oaks Pharmacy, Pasadena, CA.

 

Hidden Treasures in the Attic: the Vintage Metal Cabinet

Tucked away in the corner of a far flung A-framed room, walls donning seafaring paper, sat an unassuming cabinet. Lets be honest though, it was the blue velvet jacket and red tartan pants on the wardrobe rack that completely distracted me. Either way, after making our way through a storybook home for the ages, the mister spotted a green metal cabinet with art deco details that speaks to modern sensibilities. The wheels on the bottom are made out of wood. There are no tags or stamps to speak of on the cabinet, but from a very basic search I gather that this is a piece of mid century office furniture. Though the rounded top and art deco design on the front speak to another time, the mass-fabrication & distribution of such an item lands in a more modern time frame.

Here is a similar cabinet to the one we found recently:

acorn cabinet

The cabinet that we found doesn’t have a top handle though, and it looks most closely akin to this cabinet that is part of a TOTALLY RAD fold out desk that’s for sale on ebay right now. I’m seriously considering the idea of putting together a pop-up office consisting of this desk, my Seminole camping chair, and my Chromebook. Come to think of it, this is exactly why I bought a new car with a hatchback. Oh the possibilities! But, I digress . . .

Once I gather more info on it’s background, I’ll share a photo of a dusted off cabinet we found. Well, that’s if I haven’t taken it to the office & turned it into a bar on wheels.

What would you do with a versatile piece of mid century office furniture on wheels? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

How to Scratch the History Itch: Heatwave Edition

Its been noted by plenty that summers in Southern California’s valleys are not very conducive for outdoor activities. I consider poking around in garages during sales as such an activity (see previous Pro Tip post). Given that the past two weekends have required multiple costume changes due to the weather, its safe to say that peak activity hours have migrated into the cooler, evening hours. Not quite in sync with the usual sale schedule though. There is, however, a way to continue exploring different pockets of the LA Basin without braving the heat.

I recently learned (thanks, LA Curbed!) that the USGS has released a catalog of topographical maps that date back to when the topographical map program started in 1884. This is of special interest to me as I’ve joined in on a couple of orienteering events and I happen to call a 128 year old structure “home”. Last summer I began looking into the basic history about the neighborhood and the city founders. I found the original owner’s family’s name through a historical designation web site and have yet to pull any tax or land records. Though I have a lot of work yet to do, its quite lovely to gaze upon maps from another slice of time. That is especially so when you live in an area that has undergone such a radical transformation within a century.

Looks like I’ll be spending some quality time away from the blazing sun, looking at groovy maps while sipping on mojitos. Because, summer.

 

History Hunter: The Steamer Trunk from Eagle Rock

Through a couple of auction sites I’ve been able to piece this puzzle together a little further. There was in fact a company in Denver, Colorado that specialized in leather goods and trunks. The building still stands today.

To date I haven’t been able to find a photo of another trunk that’s the exact same as mine, but we aren’t far off. I’m glad I at least have the company sticker as a clue, but I wish my trunk had a travel label on it that indicated a voyage on some fine vessel, such as this one that traveled aboard the S. S. Empress of France”.

Though the building is of historical value, it finds itself vacant. You may also find of interest: Best Lost Denver Alley Sign 2010 and a photo of the A.E. Meek sign today.

This photo of one of their delivery vehicles is by far my favorite find from the research process.

 

A.E. Meek Trunk & Bag Co. Delivery Truck

A.E. Meek Trunk & Bag Co. Delivery Truck

 

 

 

Pro Tip: Always check the garage

Garages get a bad rap. Between the spiders, the weird smells, and their generally unkempt nature, some folks that visit estate sales don’t even step foot into garages. But if you’re a treasure hunter like me, you know that there’s no more unexpected of a place to find a cool collectible than a garage.

While I was at work one Friday afternoon, the mister decided to take advantage of his day off and visit an estate sale in Eagle Rock. I had forwarded the description of the sale to him and he found the mention of vintage tools very enticing. So off he went with $20 in his pocket. The afternoon goes by rather quietly until I receive a text message that declares that I will soil myself upon setting eyes on his discovery. Alright, mister. I am officially intrigued.

I’m thankful for the warning because I almost lost it when I saw what was in the middle of our bedroom. A steamer trunk from the late 19th century!

Steamer trunk by A.E. Meek Trunk and Bag Company.

Steamer trunk by A.E. Meek Trunk and Bag Company.

Look at that label! A.E. Meek Trunk and Bag Company.

Look at that label! A.E. Meek Trunk and Bag Company.

This could possibly be one of the coolest coffee tables ever as there are four canvas-lined wooden shelves that go inside of the trunk. The metal hardware is spectacular. We’re missing the key though, so some sleuthing will need to be done. The entire trunk is reinforced with wood slats and the corners have a metal wrap. From the looks of things, this trunk was made for the rough & tumble stagecoach rides.

The exterior has the general wear & tear one would expect for a travel trunk that has survived for around 125 years. The lid has a couple of drops of (presumably) white paint, which I imagine came from the years it spent tucked away in a garage. I can’t help but wonder if the owner of the house had family that came to California from Colorado decades after the Gold Rush. Oh, if only that trunk could talk!

If it weren’t for the mister’s eagle eye and the brilliant timing we wouldn’t have found this timeless piece of Americana. I can’t wait to have this as the centerpiece of our living room once we’ve dusted off the exterior & figured out a table top solution.

The more I think of it, the more I wonder if a slab of acrylic with rounded edges is the way to go. We definitely don’t want to harm the surface by adhering a permanent bond to to it. If anyone has any tips or recs on how to convert a steamer trunk into a coffee table, please leave a comment below!