What’s it Worth: 1940s Trunk

Amelia Earhart captured the world's imagination in the 1930s. Our antiques expert evaluates a 1940s trunk bearing the famous aviator's name to see what it's worth today.

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart

Famed aviator Amelia Earhart's name lived on for years after her disappearance with a line of luggage and trunks. Photo by San Diego Art & Space Museum Archives.

Amelia Earhart trunk

Amelia Earhart trunk

Two views of a trunk from the Amelia Earhart line.

Amelia Earhart trunk key

Amelia Earhart trunk key

This trunk key does not bear Amelia Earhart's name; some in the line did, leading finders to believe they had her personal trunk.

Earhart Trunk logo

Earhart Trunk logo

The logo for the Amelia Earhart line of luggage and trunks includes a red plane taking off.

 

When I bought this trunk in the early 1940s, there was a complete line of Amelia Earhart luggage. I’ve kept it all these years and am wondering about its history and value.

—M.W., Boise, Idaho

What’s It Worth?

A: At age 23, Amelia Mary Earhart paid a dollar for her first 10-minute plane ride; two years later she had her pilot’s license. A pioneer of American aviation, she went on to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Guided by her publicist and husband, George Putnam, she endorsed a variety of products to finance her expeditions, including a line of women’s clothing and luggage.

Your trunk is part of a popular set of canvas-covered plywood luggage that sold well into the 1990s. Manufactured by Orenstein Trunk of Newark, New Jersey, pieces came with a corrugated metal luggage key. (Some people reportedly believed they had Amelia’s personal suitcase key!) Long after her 1937 disappearance over the Pacific Ocean while attempting a daring flight around the globe, the famous aviator continues to capture the imagination of the world, and items bearing her name remain collectible. Your trunk is worth about $250.

 

Earhart Trunk logo The logo for the Amelia Earhart line of luggage and trunks includes a red plane taking off.

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