Altavista Follow-up #2, The short boxes

Hi all!

Before I get into talking about the chronology, I want to address the mystery of the carved triangle found in several boxes addressed by me in my posts of 4/15/15 and 11/27/14.  My speculation was these carved out triangles were done to fix mistakes and/or to re-brand the lids.  Carvings like this…

Routed triangle

and this…

carved lid

Based on my conversation with Larry, Supervisor of the miniature line at the Lane factory for over 3 decades, my hypothesis is correct!

If the brand of the logo and the retailer under the lid didn’t meet the department’s standards during the manufacturing phase, the area would be routed out and re-done. Also, and this is interesting, from time to time boxes would be returned from the retailers for a number of different reasons.  Maybe the retailer went out of business or moved their location or for whatever reason was not involved in the Graduation program any longer and the boxes were returned to Altavista.  In order to get the boxes into circulation, the original branding was routed out, sealed with a thin coat of lacquer or shellac and then re-branded.  Mystery solved!

Larry started working in the “Miniatures Department,” as they called it, around 1965. Just a few years earlier, the department had been pretty much fully mechanized.  Of course, over the years when Larry worked the line, there were many steps taken to make the process more efficient and the product better for the consumer.

At the end of each day the entire processing line was shut down and cleaned up.    Within just 15 minutes of start of the next day the line would be rattling to life once again.  At its best, Larry estimated the Department could turn out 1,800 to 2,000 boxes A DAY!  He knew about every step in the process of making the boxes and was a wealth of information for me. We talked about glue and bevels and bleed-through and cedar and pine and walnut and mahogany and shellac and lacquer and sanding and rounded corners and square corners, etc.  And it was AWESOME!

In my next entry I will talk about locksets (pressed-in vs. screwed) and how this clue alone will help me in chronicaling our boxes.

Also, coming soon I will discuss my interview with Bill and his contribution to the “branding” process.

Until next time…



2 thoughts on “Altavista Follow-up #2, The short boxes

  1. I have an old Lane graduation box with an advertisement, postcard and note card inside that was my grandmother’s. I have no info on it other than the engraving on inside lid “Lane – by Johnston Furniture – Nashville, Michigan”. I’m not necessarily interested in the value nor any desire to sell it, but was curious if you knew the time frame it is from. I’d be happy to email pictures, if you’d like.

    Thanks for your time! And kudos on a great hobby!


    • Jera,
      Thanks for reaching out. I would be more than happy to help you with the age of your box. I have narrowed the years down a bit – unfortunately it may still be in a range of 20 years!
      A couple of pictures would help along with dimensions. I am working on a website to make this process a little easier for those that find me. I know its tough to track down specifics in this blog. Feel free to send the pics to Looking forward to helping! Do you know when your grandmother was born or graduated? This information may help with my project as well!


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