Assess the value of a steamer trunk by taking into consideration its size, condition, rarity of design, any alterations and any restoration work. However, the exact value of any trunk is what someone is willing to pay for it.
It is important to remember that sentimental value is unrelated to an object's monetary value. When assessing the value of a steamer trunk, researching what others are posted for on an auction site may not be a good value indicator because many of these are marked too high to sell.
Trunks under 30 inches in length are easier to sell because most people do not have the room to store larger trunks. Condition is also a large consideration in trunk value. Rust, dents, broken or missing pieces, and other defects all decrease the value of the trunk. Hardware can be replaced, but replacement parts are unlikely to match the trunk exactly. Having an original key increases its value by approximately $30 as of March 2015, but trunks that have been painted or altered have a decreased value, generally selling for less than $50.
Rarity and design also influence a trunk's value. Trunks made from all wooden slats have a much higher value than regular dome-style trunks. French-made trunks are worth much more than American-made steamer trunks. Often, trunks that are more ornate possess a higher value than trunks that are more plain.