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Friday, December 2, 2011

Back in the day: Lane graduation boxes

The Lane Co., Inc. began making miniature cedar chests in 1925. In 1930 the company's savvy sales manager came up with the great promotional idea of giving them away to girls graduating from high school in the hopes that their parents would buy them full-size cedar chests to celebrate their graduation or that they would buy a chest when they had homes of their own.

Girls were sent an invitation from Lane to pick up one of the cedar boxes from a local furniture store. By 1984 more than 15 million of the small chests had been given away. (The promotion must have been a spectacular success, because every household I remember when I was growing up had a Lane cedar chest. I had my mother's and my grandmother's for years, and my daughter still has a very mid-century style Lane chest that belonged to a relative.)

Many girls finishing high school from 1930 through the mid-1980s have held onto their miniature Lane cedar chests and still keep high school mementos locked inside. Other less sentimental girls have allowed their chests to meet the fate of so many other mid-century pieces that have been lost to landfills or sold in garage sales.

From fundinguniverse.com


Lane graduation box
alleewillis.com

1950s Lane cedar chest ad
vintageadbrowser.com

17 comments:

  1. oh cool! i had no idea about this. where's MY cedar chest.. hmm :)

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  2. I have my grandmothers Lane Cedar chest from the 50's that I love! I didn't know about these keepsake boxes but I like them!

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  3. I had a similar chest (but more 70's-80's ish) and, as a teen, I quickly referred to it as a "chastidy box" because I was thinking of it being packing for girls with items for marriage, etc., and that cracked up my mom. Now we refer to them as chastidy boxes as a rule.

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  4. thanks for sharing the story behind these miniature lane cedar boxes...i used to look at them in antique booths and wonder what they were used for. :)

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  5. @Bandita: Every once in a while I realize that there are some perks to being old. I guess getting one of those boxes was one of those perks...LOL

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  6. @Jessica LeAnne: How cool that you have your grandmother's cedar chest. I bet at one time she had one of the keepsake boxes too.

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  7. @Tanya: Great story! I've heard of chastity belts...but not chastity boxes. I'll never look at cedar chests without thinking about that from now on. :)

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  8. @Sudha: You just wouldn't believe all the "olden days" trivia I have packed in this brain of mine...63 years' worth, to be exact. LOL

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  9. I still have mine from 1956. It has been a jewelry box for me since receiving it. I think I will put it in my will!!

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    1. It's great that you've held onto yours for so long. I fear that most have been tossed out over time.

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  10. Like you, I have a keen interest in these little boxes and have set upon a journey to find as much as I can about them. Specifically, I am looking to date the different sizes and styles. Join in the fun at my blog: lanecedarbox.wordpress.com
    I'm not much of a "blogger" but hopefully we can work together to gain knowledge. According to Lane, most of their historical records were lost in a massive flood...unfortunate.

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    1. Too bad about the lost records. Sadly, my graduation box is long gone. If only I had known then what I know now...

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  11. My Mom got one for graduation in 1949. It sat on a shelf in my room during high school. Many years later when she had terminal cancer and asked me what I wanted, that chest was the only thing I asked for. Unfortunately it disappeared and I never got hers (we won't go into where I think it went...), but since then I found one at an antique store and it's been sitting on my dresser for years. Although it's not my Mom's original, I still think of her and the chest that was in my room back home every time I walk past it. :-)

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    1. So sorry your mom's cedar chest disappeared. Some of my mom's things did too.

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  12. My high school gave them out in 1980 to the female grads

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  13. My high school gave them out in 1980 to the female grads

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  14. I have my grandma's cedar box and I noticed my mother-in-law had one also.
    I no idea they were graduation gifts. I hope my sister-in-laws didn't throw it out when they were cleaning out her house.

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