About

I love boxes and drawers!  Specifically, I love the story of the little Lane cedar box and how it weaves through the American culture.  I have a small collection of these boxes and would like to gather more information about them. I will, along the way, most likely, add to my collection and share the story of my quest.  Here, I will share my research, collection, findings, and stories about these awesome little boxes.  I really want to learn how many different versions were made and their age.  Some may be almost 80 years old!

The miniature cedar chests were made by Lane for what the company called the Girl Graduation Plan.

I will be interested in what I find with your help.

Please post comments and help me in my quest.

Chad

41 thoughts on “About

  1. I have an abiding love for small wooden boxes and in particular, cedar boxes. Guess it goes back to both of my Grandmothers. By the early 1960s I was old enough to start going through their cedar trinket boxes and always found little treasures. Small jewelry pieces, a glass tube of sand from Saudi Arabia that one brought back from a trip in the 1930s, photos, letters, newspaper clippings about family members, etc. Somehow there were never any little Lane boxes, maybe there weren’t any Lane dealers in the local area/region, definitely because my grandmothers were born and graduated high school before the Lane Senior Girl program began, and definitely because most of their children were boys. But they had other cedar boxes, and boxes bought on vacations with the names of “exotic” places along their routes. I think that’s what I particularly love about Lane cedar boxes, those having the name of the local dealer imprinted. I wonder about who received the box, if they valued it or not, where the box went during the years and why it was being orphaned on eBay or Etsy. So I enjoy the little boxes and they’re an inexpensive (at this point) collector’s item. Thanks for developing a site where information gained about them can be shared and people that love them can indulge our interest in them. .

    Like

  2. I graduated from high school in 1952, and a local furniture store, Carroll’s Furniture Store in Sheridan, Wyoming, provided each graduating senior girl with a Lane cedar box. My sister received one in 1949.

    Like

    • Sara,
      Thank you for the comment! Do either of you still have your boxes? What did you do with them – what did you store in them?
      If you still have one, I would love to know what description in my blog fits your box.
      Thanks again!
      Chad

      Like

  3. I have begun to collect these little boxes. I am mainly interested in the painted anniversary editions. Do you have any information on them?

    Like

    • The painted versions are all definitely newer – somewhere after 1980 I am guessing. I was actually able to speak with the gentlemen that was the marketing director for Lane when the paintings were being done. He still lives in AltaVista. From what I understand, some of the designs/paintings were actually done by at least one lady that lived in AltaVista, VA where all the boxes were made. As they saw a decline in the Girl Graduation Plan promotion they were looking at other ways to sell the boxes. Because they are newer I haven’t been paying too much attention to them other to note their size and age. They definitely had deals with many retailers and large companies like JCPenney’s, Disney, etc. where they offered the painted boxes. I was told there are ones painted for Nascar also – haven’t seen on though. Some of the later painted boxes weren’t cedar – pine I think. Happy collecting and thanks for checking in!

      Like

  4. I received a certificate for one of the “little cedar boxes” from Weir Furniture (Lewistown, MT) when I graduated from Hobson (Montana) High School in 1989. I never took that certificate into get my box. However, my dad loves auction sales and purchased two of the litle Lane chests (@ an auction in Central Montana) and gave one to me and my daughter. One is marked A. S. Hardy Furniture and the other has no markings except for the paper tag stapled to the bottom from The Lane Company. They are two different styles. I am assuming the styles changed with the years? I’d like to try and date these if possible.

    Like

    • Brandi,
      Thanks for sharing your story. In 1989 the Girl Graduation Program was nearing its end. You’re right, there are at least 6 or 7 different sizes/styles of boxes that I have found so far and they did change over the years. The main goal of this blog is to narrow the dates of the style changes. Check out my past posts about chronology to help you narrow the age of your boxes down.
      Cheers! Chad

      Like

  5. Where on your site is the identification guide. I have a short box, pillow top, indented line in front, latch over loop and Lane, Alta Visa VA burned mark. The feet are black and round. Its in bad shape. How old is it, how do I get the musty smell out and refinish it (really beat up on top)

    Like

    • Kalina,
      Thank you for your question! Based on your description, you have what I have designated as a Tall Hasp Bun Foot (THBF). For a detailed discussion of this particular box please read by blog post dated April 9, 2015. I have several of this model. The really cool thing is that I have one with a date hand written on the label of 1935. So, I am hypothesizing at this time that you have one of the earliest models of these boxes made by Lane – over 80 year ago! The clear top coat – if there is any left is shellac which is dissolved in de-natured alcohol. If you want to refinish the box because it is really bad or unusable shape, you can remove the shellac with several passes with the alcohol. Then, once the stickiness of the shellac is gone – you can use 0000 steel wool too – then apply several thin coats of spray on lacquer with light steel wool sanding between coats. I usually don’t recommend re-finishing unless the box is just horrible. I usually clean with a light detergent like Simple Green and then apply a wax finish. As for the smell and the interior…it was never sealed so it tends to absorb smells. Sanding the interior with 220 grit sandpaper should get rid of the smell and actually allow you to smell the cedar again! Hope this helps – let me know how it goes.
      Chad

      Like

      • Louella,
        Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately the little boxes I am discussing on this blog don’t have serial numbers. However, you are correct, in many cases you can learn the age of Lane items (not just Cedar Chests) by using the method you described.

        Chad

        Like

  6. Hi Chad,
    I am looking for info on repairing a lock on a Lane Mini Cedar Chest. My Mother has her box from 1958, and I have my own from 1984. I bought one for my son off of Ebay (80’s era), but the lock is jammed. I am hoping to repair the lock, and was hoping to gather some helpful info.

    Like

    • Cherie,
      Thanks for the question. As I’m sure you know, the keys to all of the modern locks – for sure since the 60’s are all the same. Let me start by saying, I don’t have much experience with “repairing” the little locks. However, I will pass along as much as I know.
      I just want to make sure, does the latch lock and unlock without the lid being closed? Of course if the little hole in the lid part isn’t lined up, it won’t work. The lid piece is pretty easily bent with a pair of pliers to get it lined up with the latch.
      I have found most often the locks get stuck due to corrosion, dirt, etc. I have had success simply soaking the lock in a lubricant like WD-40 and then working the lock loose with the key. When applying the lubricant I protect the inside of the box with a towel or something so as to not stain the bare wood. Because the lock is so simple, I doubt it can be dismantled and repaired but there are a couple of tabs that look like they could be bent back to open it to see what’s going on. No promise they won’t break when they are bent back though.
      As for the lock itself, the escutcheon on the outside of the box is not attached to (or part of) the inside part of the lock – it is just there to protect the wood hole from getting worn. The simple little lock is pressed into the wood in the same way that the hinges are – the prongs have a slight hook on them to hold the it in place. The locks are pretty easy to remove (pry off) and replace if you have a “donor” box that may be damaged.
      If all else fails, please get in touch with me again – I likely have a lock I could send you – no charge.
      Let me know…and thanks again for your question.
      Chad

      Like

      • Thanks Chad. The problem is the mechanism inside the lock. It does not work with the box open or closed. The key starts to turn, and you can see the little arm start to swing over the lock opening, but then it jams. I don’t have a donor box to use for parts. My son was really intrigued with my box, and tried to talk me into giving it to him – NO WAY. And then, he decided to try and wheedle my Mother’s box out of her – NO WAY (I have dibs HAHA). So I bought one on Ebay that looked really good and had the key, but the lock didn’t work when I received it. I thought I could give my son his own for Christmas, but I will have to work on it first. If you have an extra lock, I would really appreciate it.

        Thanks,

        Cherie

        Like

      • Hi Chad- I have my grandmother’s box but I was wondering if the key was meant to stay in the lock or if it can be taken out after being locked? Mine seems to not want to be disturbed once locked. Thank you!

        Like

      • The key can definitely be taken out after the lock is locked or unlocked. I’ve never seen a key get totally stuck in the key hole but would suggest turning the key just a little more or wiggling it to see if you can get it to come out. For lock set maintenance check out this entry on my website…
        https://www.lanecedarbox.com/box-features-2 Good luck and thanks for checking in!

        Like

  7. Hello. I am in search of a box from a specific Furniture store that my father owned. He went out of business before I graduated and he has since passed but I would love to find a graduation box from Frey Furniture store in Ashley Ohio…Late 1970’s. Any info would be appreciated.

    Like

    • Teena,
      I checked through my boxes and unfortunately I don’t have a box from that store. I also checked a list a friend of mine has and not there either. I am looking at these boxes constantly so I will keep an eye out for it. However, keep in mind, they made 10’s of millions of these boxes and finding one from that store may be a tough call. Of course it would be easier to find one in antique or Goodwill type store near Ashley. I will let you know if I am able to find one. How cool would that be!? Chad

      Like

  8. Hello. Did they give these boxes away in 1977 at all furniture stores in the US? I would love to find one from Maryland from 1977 as I don’t remember having the opportunity to receive one. I have a Lane cedar chest given to me many years ago from a family member. The Style No. is 48507 and the Serial No is 082020. Both numbers are stenciled on the bottom of the chest. It was made in 1980, correct?

    Like

    • Tracey,
      The Girl Graduation Plan was still going strong in 1977. Only furniture stores carrying the Lane line of furniture would have been participating in the plan and of those, some may have chose not to participate. The boxes aren’t dated. However, I do know that by 1977, the boxes were the shorter version which I have designated as (S) in my blog. Also, the brand on the underside of the lid would have said “Lane Presented by…” and then the retailer’s name – no surround or graphics in the logo brand, just script. I don’t personally have a box from Maryland but I bet if you search for “lane cedar” on e-bay and you look closely you might find one from your home state. You would be really lucky to find one from your home town. I’ll keep my eye out for a Maryland box. You are totally correct about the full size chest, reading the Serial Number backwards reveals the date of manufacture. Thanks for your interest!
      Chad

      Like

  9. I graduated in 1970 and was looking forward to getting one of the boxes, but the voucher/coupon never appeared. Then a couple of years later the program was on again… I missed out. About 15 years later while in a thrift store, there was a whole bunch of the boxes! I bought one. Just the other day, I found another one at an estate sale for $3. I LOVE wooden boxes, so my collection grows. Very interested in their history.

    Like

  10. I received my Lane Graduation Chest in 1974. I am hoping I still have it stored away somewhere. I just purchased one from eBay, that looks very different than any others I have seen. Possibly 30’s or 40’s. It has raised feet and grooves on the front corners. I’d love to send you pictures and get your thoughts.

    Thanks!

    Like

    • Lynda,
      Check out my blog post from Jan 21, 2017 where I describe what I have designated as Tall Fluted Foot (Feet). According to my research, thus far I can say these boxes were likely manufactured in the late 1930’s – like 1936 to 1937. According to Lane factory workers they were assembled by hand and because of the corner joints – 8 instead of 4, they were time consuming and more difficult to build – thus the short run. They are popular because of they are different and the corner fluting gives them a more designer look. Thanks for sharing!
      Chad

      Like

  11. I’ve rediscovered by Lane box as my children have grown old enough to find joy in it. Any suggestions on how to fix a lock that doesn’t turn anymore?

    Like

    • Assuming you have the key…first try some lubrication from WD-40 or similar product. If that doesn’t work…the lock is a very simple mechanism that contains a little flat metal piece inside that acts as a spring. It depends on the kind of lock you have on how you open it up to see if the spring is mis-aligned or broken. Usually you bend a couple of half-moon shaped ears on each side to take it apart. If you send me a picture or reach out to me at chadhilk@gmail.com I will walk you through it or provide you with my address where you can send it for repair or replacement – no charge of course. Thanks for checking out my blog! By the way, when did you receive your box?
      Chad

      Like

  12. Thank you! Will give it a try. Appreciate your willingness to help – will let you know if problems. My brother and I received our boxes in about the mid 80s. A gift, noted to be from a furniture store in NC.

    Like

  13. I bought this lane chest at a thrift store today for $1.50 🙂 it reads Lane Cedar Chests Altavista,Va Troost Brothers, can you give me any info on its age? There looks to be an old piece of a label on bottom with the little felt pads in place, but no date. I am going to give it to my son, he is getting married soon. The top needs a little love as the finish is rough and the lock and key are gone but it is in pretty good shape besides, think I’ll scroll to the blog where you explained how to refinish. Just loved the look and simplicity of this box. Any more info would be appreciated thanks,Sally

    Like

    • Sally,
      Thank you for checking in with me! I would love to help you with the dating of your box. The easiest way would be for you to send me a picture at chadhilk@gmail.com. If you can’t send a picture the best I can do with the information you have shared is date the box between 1936 and 1966 because of the wording on the branded logo as you described. I know you don’t have a reference for this but if the box is tall we could say it is pre 1960. But I really need to get a look at it. If the front vertical corners are rounded and fluted (different than the rear vertical corners) then we can narrow it down to the late 1930’s. I would also be interested in helping you fix it up. Please reach out to me and we will work something out – perhaps with the lock and key as well.
      Thanks again! Chad

      Like

  14. Hi Chad – I graduated high school in 1990 and received a box from a local furniture store in Oregon, where I grew up. I still have my lovely cedar box that has moved with me every place I have lived since high school. I no longer have the key.

    Kristi

    Like

    • Kristi,
      Thank you for checking in! I believe you’re pretty lucky because the Girl Graduation Plan was waning in 1990 and Lane started focusing on selling the boxes rather than having retailers give them to graduates. I’m glad to hear you value it so much. I’m encouraging ladies to put a little note in the box about how you got it and what it means to you. That way, it may stay in your family for generations. I have found such notes in my “research.” Cheers, Chad

      Like

  15. Today I found your blog and am grateful for it, as I have been a wooden box collector for several years. I found my first Lane miniature three years ago, and have been giving them as gifts to friends and to friends who want them for their daughters. Today, however, I ran into one I had not seen before and was not impressed: It was pine, not cedar, and had a basketball court painted on the top! It is imprinted on the inside of the cover with “SPORTS BOX by LANE.” It is stamped (not imprinted) on the bottom with “c 1996 The Lane Company Inc. All Rights Reserved.” I could find no mention of this anywhere until I found your blog. Thank You! The box is mint, but there was no key, as is the custom, it appears.

    Like

    • George,
      Thanks for checking in. I am collecting information on the post-GGP boxes like the basketball one you mentioned and will be posting about them very soon. It’s sad – the company was just trying to think of anything they could to keep the Miniature Dept at the Altavista factory viable. The sports boxes where an attempt to appeal to boys obviously…but pretty unattractive… Thanks again! Chad

      Like

  16. My grandmother who is turning 90 next month was giving a lane mini chest for graduation. In. 1967 my mother graduated and received hers. I graduated in 1989 but I did not receive a chest. My mother found one made by Lane sold by Sear Surplus Center (clearance store) and it was full of Barbje clothes. I now will buy the boxes when see them. at a thrift store. I own 3 of them. One I believe is quit old as it is narrower and corner have a design on them.
    Happy Collecting!

    Like

    • Kim,
      My wife received a box for graduation in 1985 and my friend’s sister got one 1992 but by that time the Girl Graduate Plan was running out of steam. Glad you found me!
      Chad

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s