Story time – Great find!

Hi all!

Well everyone, gather round and strap in for an interesting story about one of our little Lane cedar boxes.  Disclosure…the information shared herein was found in public areas of the internet with a Google search…

On August 1, 1921 Dora Ellen Thomas was born to Mr. and Mrs. John Thomas in beautiful Missoula, Montana.  Missoula, in western Montana, at that time was a growing trading post spurred on by logging, lumber mills and the railroad.  The population was around     12,700.  Mr. Thomas had recently immigrated from England.  Dora Ellen was a family name, going back several generations.

Dora Ellen grew up in Missoula and graduated from Missoula County High School in 1939 just shy of her 18th birthday.  Upon graduation, Dora Ellen, like her other female classmates, was presented with an invitation/offer to visit J.M. Lucy & Sons to claim a special graduation gift.  Dora Ellen probably knew of the store as it may have been one of just a couple of furniture stores in town.  She may have thought the store was a little “creepy” because Mr. Lucy was also the town coroner and the store likely doubled as a funeral home with caskets found in one of the rooms.  Upon arrival at J.M. Lucy & Sons Dora Ellen, probably accompanied by her parents, was presented with a cute little cedar box containing a special gift certificate for a discounted price on a full size Lane cedar hope chest.  The little box was hers to keep and there was no obligation to buy the larger hope chest.  It is possible the proprietor of the furniture store may have offered to inscribe, with a wood burning tool, Dora Ellen’s name into the lid of the box.  Or, she may have taken the box home and the inscription was done there.  One way or another, this is the inscription that was made in her little box…


This, my friends, is how we now know this box (designated as “Tall”) was made no later than 1939, about 10 years into the Lane Girl Graduation Plan (Program).

Dora Ellen Thomas later married Kenneth Claire Flint and the family made its way to east where Dora Ellen passed away in 2013 in Tomahawk, Wisconsin.  The box, containing keepsakes and memories, was important enough for Dora Ellen to take it with her in the move from Montana to Wisconsin.

I purchased this Tall box on e-bay from a seller in Rhinelander, WI, just 25 miles up the road from Tomahawk.  Because of the details of Dora Ellen’s life I was able to find online and this simple inscription, my chronology of our little boxes just got a lot more defined.

In a previous post, I discussed the Tall Fluted with Feet (TFF) box I have with an inscription dated 1937 – seen here…

FullSizeRender (1)

So, I believe I can say with a great amount of certainty, there was a transition from TFF to Tall (T) boxes between 1937 and 1939.  Also, the double lined Lane logo brand (seen above) can now also be attributed to 1939.  This double-lined brand also appears on several TFF in my possession – confirming the time-line.

Tall boxes dominate my chronology from 1939 to the late 1950’s when Short versions start to appear.  So, Tall was likely the style used for almost 20 years.

Based on this one box find, the chronology is much clearer.  I guess this is proof that patience, perseverance and attention to detail do pay off.

I am building a complete time-line (chronology) of the boxes based on sizes and styles along with brands but it is not yet complete enough for me to share.  This find is encouraging me to continue the quest.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.



p.s. I made another pretty good find today – watch for another post soon!

4 thoughts on “Story time – Great find!

  1. Hello! I purchased one of the Lane mini chests at a small shop in Morrison, CO, today. Because I was curious about the box (particularly its age), I did a little research and found your page. Although I couldn’t find the specific info I was seeking, you definitely pointed me in the right direction! The box I have has the 3-line Lane maker’s mark and was presented by the “Greenberg Furniture Co.” Using your info and that from the box itself, I found this quote on a completely unrelated website, “MY MOTHER KEPT her costume jewelry in a small cedar chest she got as a high school graduation gift in 1925. Every girl in each Senior Class at Salida High School received a small Lane cedar chest as a graduation gift from Abe Greenberg, owner of Greenberg Furniture Company. The tradition continued at least until 1958, when the girl that is now my wife also received one from Mr. Greenberg.”

    So, NOW, I’m really wondering how old this pretty little cedar chest is! Can you provide me with any other guidance as to determining the age of my new favorite box?

    Thanks for your attention!


    • Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you found my little blog. I know its tough to look through all of my 50 posts to find information. Size, style, escutcheon size and the exact Lane logo on the lid are good indicators of age. However, the two most popular versions of the boxes that I have simply designated and Tall and Short were made for many years and they are, therefore, difficult to pin an age on. For example, I have firm evidence of Tall boxes from 1939 to 1959 and Short from 1963 to 2004. I will send you my e-mail address. If you can get me a couple of photos we may be able to narrow the age of your box down. Thanks again and watch for a message from me. Chad


    • Jeanne,
      I’m glad you found me! There should be a “Follow” button at the bottom right-hand corner of each blog post. Sometimes you have to go to the bottom, watch the right side and then scroll up a little to see it…kind of weird it isn’t easier.
      Thank you, Chad


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