I ordered a book from the VA Historical Society with the title “Lane, Company Records 1907-2003” compiled by Laura Stoner. I received it a couple of days ago. My hope was that it would contain information about the boxes and perhaps details of the dates of the trademarks used by the company. Unfortunately it wasn’t as helpful as I had hoped.
The publication contained a couple of paragraphs describing the history of the box promotion. So, at least I can say I now know the story with some authority. The head of Sales and Advertising at the Lane Company in the 1920’s was J. Arthur Krauss. Mr. Krauss created the Girl Graduate Plan which officially rolled out in 1930 but the company “experimented” with it even before 1930.
According to http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/the-lane-co-inc-history/, the boxes were being produced in 1925 but the Program wasn’t started until 1930.
The plan presented certificates to female high school graduates. These certificates could be presented at local furniture dealers to receive a free miniature cedar chest and in some cases a special discount on a hope chest. I also learned that the furniture stores participating in the program purchased the boxes at a discount to market the company. The only time the promotion was interrupted was during WWII. By word of mouth, I have also learned that some purchasers of Lane hope chests were given a little box as a “thank you” for the purchase. Amazingly, the book reports that by 1960, “the program would grow to the point where it would present miniature cedar chests to almost two-thirds of all female high school graduates in the country.”
Initially the boxes were made from an outside vendor but soon the company devoted a department to just make the little boxes.
An undated (probably late 70’s) advertisement I viewed recently said that the company would distribute over 400,000 boxes from over 7,500 retailers that year alone! So, image how many boxes are circulating around the U.S. if this promotion ran for well over 6 decades! Millions and millions!
How is it possible that there are millions of these miniature cedar chests all over this country and no one has compiled any authoritative information for collectors to reference? Please help me gather this information!
Until next time….