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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

41 comments:

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

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    1. I got mine ;)

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    2. You can get one on ebay for $30 or so dollars.

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    3. My Mother graduated from high school in 1958 and received a box from Lunn Furniture Company in Olney, Texas. It was such a relief to find out how she came to own this box. She passed away in February of 2020. The box was in such bad shape no one wanted it. I rescued it and cleaned it with Murphy Oil Soap and replaced the hinges on the back of the box with antique style screw in hinges. I also replaced the felt pads on the bottom with round rubber stick on feet. From seeing these photos, I now realize I replaced the locking mechanism on the top front backwards! But it still locks, and I am storing it away for my Granddaughter's high school graduation. I placed a note inside explaining where it came from and how special it is to me. (Just in case I don't make it to the year 2034!) It may not be worth a lot of money, but it is priceless to me, and I know my granddaughter will love it as much as I do. Thanks for taking the time to research this item and sharing it with the world!

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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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    1. I treasure my box. I just bought another on ebay. Surprise for someone who didn't get a box.

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    2. I received a free small cedar chest when graduating from high school in 1982. I still have it safely tucked away in the attic with my high school treasures.

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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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    2. Expect family to fight over it...

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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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    2. Your story put tears in my eyes.

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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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    1. It would be a hard thing to toss out. too special a memory.

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  15. I graduated in 1961 and for some reason, never got one and should have, but I found one on eBay not too long ago and bought it. It even had the original key. There are usually several for sale on eBay.

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  16. I received a cedar box when I graduated high school in 1992. I was given a certificate to take to the local furniture store to pick it up for free. So, it continued past 1989.

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    1. My collection actually contains a box with a graduation message from 2004. However, I it may have been specially ordered and not part of the ongoing Girl Graduation Plan.

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  17. I got one in 1993 from a local furniture store also. I don't believe it was only for girls, but I don't know that for certain.

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    1. I think it was only for girls.
      (Very sexist)

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    2. We didn't even know the meaning of sexist then...this was a girls'thing...never a doubt. Something a girl of 18 cherished at graduation and thereafter.

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    3. It was only for girls then. I had 5 brothers and the graduation cedar chest was never offered to any of them.

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  18. I also received one when graduating from Atlantic HS in Delray Beach in 1971 (I don't recall if it was picked up at a furniture store or if boys got one also). I know I would never have disposed of it as I used it as a keepsake box, but I don't recall seeing it since my mom passed.





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  19. Boys didn't get one. They wanted girls to buy a big Lane chest. For when they got married.

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  20. I graduated in 1966 in appleton, WI. I came from a family of 13..and never having much.. you cannot imagine how ecstatic I was to get this gem for free at a downtown furniture store. I walked to town and picked it up..feeling like this was the best day of my life!! I had it in my bedroom which shared with many sisters--I was the oldest. I would take it out if my drawer and just look at it..dust it, smell it. I never had anything to put in it, but that was ok. I was simply thrilled to have it. Not long after, one of my sisters somehow "lost it" she said. Well..I don't think even to this day I ever got over losing that special cedar box that was so dear to me. I remember it today just like it was yesterday.

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  21. I graduated in 1983 from Casa Grande Union High in Casa Grande, AZ. I still have my cedar Lane graduation box with my high school treasures. I am now looking for those boxes to give to my High School graduating girls!

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