Boxes by the Numbers

Hi all!

The possibility of the bottom number stamps described in my last couple of posts being date related has got me thinking about how many of each style of box was made.

I’m not going to go into the math here because it’s too boring and it’s based on a whole bunch of guessing.  However, let me remind you Lane executives once estimated Lane either made or distributed (not sure which) over 27 million miniature boxes.  Given my hypothesis, there were boxes distributed by Lane but made by other manufacturers.  However, in the grand scheme of things, the number of boxes from the early years (1925-35) were very small compared to how many were actually made in total.

I built my numbers per year to get to a total of 27 million.  I considered no boxes being made from 1942-45 for the war.  I also considered a ramp up in production from 1946 to 1965 and then steady for 20 years with a decline thereafter to when the Lane Miniature Department was closed in 1998.  I used production of 500,000 as the peak of production during the 20 year period of 1965 to 1985.  This number is based on interviews from Lane employees.

Given these guesstimations (my word), in any one year between 1.19% and 1.87% of the total boxes were manufactured.  The Short variation of boxes were made from the late 1950’s to 1998 and, therefore, about 75% of all boxes distributed by Lane were of the Short variety.  Most of the other 25% were the Tall variety.

So far, the bottom numbers have only been found on Tall, Short Rounded and Short Beveled boxes.  Not all of any of these three variations have numbers stamped on their bottoms.  Even if every box from a 2-5 year period had numbers stamped on their bottoms, this would represent way less than 10% of all the boxes ever made.  And, given the bottom date stamps are from the 1950’s, there may not be that many of them still around because there’s no way of knowing how many of the 27 million boxes are floating around the country today.

I think this is a good exercise and something I will continue to build on for conversation sake given I will likely never know how many boxes were made in any given year.

That’s it for now.

What do you think?  No the bottom number stamps represent dates?

Have a good day!




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