The main reason I am on this quest of discovery about the little Lane boxes is to determine their chronology. In other words, in what order were the boxes manufactured? I have a well documented working chronology and I am constantly looking for clues from the boxes to fill in my blanks. Watch for a post from me soon about a NOTE found in a box – really cool.
Back to value, or “worth.” Wouldn’t you say the value of a collectible is generally based on age, condition, style and rarity? Let’s go with this for now. For example, I collect Hot Wheel die cast cars. An original Redline car in the blister pack packaging from 1968 has more value than the one hanging on a hook at Target, right? That’s an easy one. What if Mattel made only 100 of a certain Hot Wheel model and distributed it a certain special convention? That car would be valuable also, right?
This is leads me to my dilemma. In my years of searching, I have found no one interested in truly “evaluating” or “valuating” these boxes. Not based on age, rarity, condition or style. I’m the only one! Go figure! It’s just inconceivable isn’t it?
I’ve mentioned this before but most of you wouldn’t know…There are miniature Lane cedar chest for sale on e-bay right now for anywhere from $4.99 to $117.00 (plus shipping). Take my word for it, the ones for $117.00 are no more special than any others.
Don’t tell my wife – who am I kidding – she knows – I have paid as much as $50.00 for one box. I have also paid $2.00 for one. The $50.00 one is the only one I have seen like it. So, according to me, it is RARE and I had to have it. Did the seller know of its rarity? I doubt it.
I am willing to pay more for older boxes, rare boxes and those that provide me with information that is valuable to my project. At this point condition doesn’t matter to much.
When considering what a box is worth or how much it will cost, we must consider the marketplace or where the boxes are being sold. Since no one, except me, is really differentiating the style of boxes, let’s just consider the price of a “Lane cedar box.” The cheapest places I have found boxes for sale are garage/estate sales and Goodwill type stores ($2-$5). Next most expensive would be thrift stores followed by smaller antique stores ($5-$15). Antique malls can be a little more ($15-$20) and then we get to Etsy and e-bay. Since there are so many boxes for sale on e-bay (usually well over 100 at any given time) sometimes, if you try real hard you can “win” an auction for around $15 including shipping but usually you will have to pay over $20 including shipping. This all makes sense I guess. As the seller has more time and cost associated with the sale, the price goes up. For example, someone selling on a card table in their driveway doesn’t have the same overhead or costs associated with a booth at an antique mall. Motivation of the seller may be another key. The estate seller wants the stuff GONE, while the antique mall seller maybe could wait a little longer. Pretty simple stuff.
As for me, I am looking for boxes that further my research. And, yes, if I come across a box for $1-$3, I have trouble passing it up. As a rule unless the box has some “value” to me in my chronology, I’m not interested in paying more than $10. However, I do know which boxes are rare and I will pay more for those – even if no one else cares up to this point.
One last point. Lane made and distributed MILLIONS of these boxes and MANY of them have survived. Therefore, unless you know what you’re looking for, rarity is not an issue so just keep shopping! At some point maybe the “market” will take note of my research and start pricing the boxes based on their age and rarity. I’m not holding my breath! Ha!
Until next time…