Thursday, February 10, 2011

Antique Store Find: Military Crate From Germany With Mysterious Past

I went out to Antiquified Antiques in NE Minneapolis a few days ago on a whim just to see if I could find anything fun to bring home.  As I was looking at some cute vintage books, something underneath them caught my eye.  I love anything with letters or numbers on it, and what lied under all those books was covered with writing!  Once I removed everything on top of this trunk I started reading the writing. "Military", "APO", "US Army", etc.  Clearly this was some kind of army crate.
I was so intrigued!  I kept wondering what the story was with this crate.  I bought it for $32 and couldn't wait to get it home so I could start googling all the writing on the crate in hopes of figuring out it's past.
 Aside from the writing and history this crate clearly has, I also loved the worn appearance, the metal latch, solid wood, and chippy paint.  Once I got home I started googling.  I started with 'US Army' and 'Kaiserslautern'.
 I found out a lot about Kaiserslautern, Germany. Located about 300 miles NE of Paris France, nearly 60% of the city had been bombed and destroyed during WWII.  After the War, in the years from 1950 to 1955, Kaiserslautern developed into the largest US military community outside the United States.  Due to the heavy military population, the entire city began to rebuild in the late 1960's.  Currently, the army base still functions and is populated by 40,000 service men and women.

Now, I searched the name 'Barbara Standish' and 'Magnolia Minnesota' to see if I could find out any other information or maybe a lead about how old the crate might be.  Sadly no luck, all I learned was that Magnolia, Minnesota is a very, very small town in the Southwest corner of Minnesota near the Iowa border.
So, maybe the crate is from the 1950's?  The materials and costruction certainly don't appear to be from any later than that.  Nevertheless, it was fun learning about the place it came from!  If anyone else out there has any other information about this trunk or the Army Base in Kaiserslautern please let us know!

One fun little project we might do with this trunk is something that junkin' genius Amber sent us from Design Mom. They added legs to their 'Ammo Crate' so it was a bit more useful.  We are tryingto figure out where/ how we want to use the trunk, but like the idea of making it taller. 
What do you think?  Any other fun ideas for this well worn Army trunk?  Let us know!
It's almost Friday, I can't wait for this weekend... the main event, Alex + Antique Window vs. Gravity! Oooo I can't wait to see what it looks like!  Hope everyone has a great weekend!

* Update! I got a comment from a gal living in Kaiserslautern with her husband who is in the Air Force, how crazy to be so connected in the blog world?!?!  Thanks for sharing with me Ali!*


  1. Love it! What a great find and to get to find out some history behind it is the best party!!


  2. I actually live in Kaiserslautern Germany. Haha so when I saw your crate I could not believe it. My husband is AF and we are stationed at Ramstein. There are also a ton of Army bases around here too. APO is actually the city for military bases overseas. Its part of our address. I think your new find is so cool and hope you find something cool to do with it!

  3. No you didn't sound stupid at all. I loved your post. We are actually one of the biggest military communities in Europe. You can definitely use my comment in your post. I have never seen anything like it and I have been around the military my whole life but been around the AF for the most part. When my husband wakes up I plan on showing him and finding out if he has ever seen one before. Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. That's so AWESOME that you've already found a tie to Kaiserslautern in the short time since posting this blog. And how about this...I can provide a tie to Magnolia, MN! A lot of my dad's side of the family are from SW Minnesota. I grew up in SE Minnesota but still head west because we have two cabins on a lake down that way. I am excited to see what genius idea you come up with for the trunk! I too love to dig for treasures. Right now we don't have the space for me to bring home lots of big stuff (try as I might), but you'll have to check out our blog to see what fun little finds I brought home from Goodwill yesterday. I have a little bit of an obsession with that place.

  5. Great find! I can't wait to see what you end up doing with it!

  6. this is amazing! those are the kinds of pieces i always hope to find when i go to the flea market but never do lol

  7. I would LOVE to find a trunk like that! I actually lived on the AF base in Ramstein for 6 years growing up (back in the 80's), and my brother was born in the hospital in Landstuhl, but we went to Kaiserslautern all the time! I have an old trunk I found at a yard sale and filled it with my old dance costumes so my friends' girls can play dress up whenever they come over.

  8. Very cool find.
    If you look at it and picture the front of an envelope it makes sense. My guess would be the "Trans. Off." is the transit office and APO means Army Post office.
    My guess would be that the box was transporting the personal belongings of a soldier (possibly fallen?) from where he was stationed back to his home town. The Army didn't send stuff like that in the regular USPS mail, but they had their own mail/courrier system. Def. a really neat and unique piece of history.

  9. I love all the comments, I can't believe a few people have lived there! Margaret- I too thought it may be a crate from a fallen soldier that got sent to his wife or mother, that made me kind of sad though. I hope it wasn't the case!

  10. So I asked my husband and he said it is a foot locker. What they used to store their belongings in when they were deployed. To confirm what Margaret said yes APO means Army Post Office they still use APO today that is what my address has in it for city. USPS moves our mail for a short time and then the military takes it over for overseas shipping. Enjoy your new find and I cant wait to see what you do with it.

  11. This post with the comments is *so* incredible. It shows everything that I LOVE about blogging. Everyone coming together from all over. This has totally made my day!!

    So...ideas for use? Shoes? Blanket box? Wellie boots? Magazine storage? - don't tell me I'm the only one who has far too many magazines!!



I love to hear from you! What's on your mind?