You can learn in the Collectors' Corner that there is no evidence of a real collector community when it comes to Lane miniature cedar boxes. However, if e-bay is any indication, there is a market for our treasured little boxes. Let's look into what determines the price for boxes in different markets.
The number fluctuates, but currently there are 309 miniature Lane cedar boxes up for sale (or bid) on e-bay. A median or average price evaluation as not been done. However, the price of the boxes on e-bay range from around $5.00 to $85.00 (plus shipping) and prices as high as $115.00 have been sought by sellers in the past. A rough average sale price for an e-bay box is around $20.00 not including shipping. The question is, what determines the price of a box? Answer: the market. However educated or uneducated, however sophisticated or basic a market may be, it will establish a price - that's the way an open market works.
A critical, educated view of the Lane miniature box market shows there is no obvious basis for the sale prices of the boxes sold on e-bay. In other words, the prices are NOT obviously based on age, rarity, condition or even style. For example, someone on e-bay recently paid $50.00 plus shipping for a Short (S) box in below-average condition during a time when dozens of other boxes were selling for half this amount and hundreds were for sale (bid). Why $50.00? It sold for $50.00 because the open market of e-bay determined that box should sell for that amount during that particular bidding. The real reason may simply be the buyer wanted that box because the dealer name or location (found on the lid) held some special significance for the buyer. If rarity or age were contributing factors toward valuation and the average selling price is $20.00 then $50.00 might make sense for that special find.
Lane executives estimated a total of 27 million miniature Lane cedar boxes were made and distributed by Lane as either part of the Girl Graduate Plan or sold through retailers and other promotions. It's safe to say many of these 27 million boxes are still around. They could be in closets, on dressers, in trunks or maybe even in Lane cedar chests. With only 309 of the 27 million for sale, maybe this says something about how special they are to the people that are holding on to them.
When considering what a box is worth or how much it will cost, we must consider the marketplace or where the boxes are being sold. For our purposes here, let's just consider the price of a "Lane cedar box" regardless of what is known about rarity, age, etc. because this actually seems to be the case in most instances.
Cheapest - Garage/estate sales and Goodwill/thrift type stores - usually around $2.00 - $5.00.
Some thrift stores and smaller antique stores - usually around $5.00 - $15.00.
Antique malls can charge a little more - usually around $15.00 - $20.00.
Since there are so many boxes for sale on e-bay (usually hundreds at any given time), with patience you can "win" an auction for around $15.00 including shipping but usually you will have to pay over $20.00 with additional shipping.
This all makes sense in an open market. As the seller has more time and cost associated with the sale, the price goes up. For example, someone selling on a card table in their driveway doesn't have the same overhead or costs associated with a booth at an antique mall.
Motivation of the seller is another key. The estate seller wants the stuff GONE, while the antique mall or e-bay seller may be willing to wait a little longer. In fact, because there are so many boxes for sale on e-bay at any given time, it isn't uncommon to see the same box for sale/bid for many, many months. E-bay sellers usually set initial bid prices (including shipping) around $15.00 - $20.00 and then let the bidding begin.
Ultimately, you can pay whatever you are comfortable with for a box. However, at some point the "market" may take note of the research found on this site and box valuations may become more aligned with factors like age, rarity and condition. If not, how do e-bay sellers have any chance of differentiating their product from the hundreds of others to make a sale?
To the untrained eye, let's face it, the Lane miniature boxes appear to be very similar. Therefore, we can only assume, some resourceful crafters have decided to differentiate their boxes to make them more marketable. You can find their modifications on Etsy or Pinterest. For some of these crafty folks it is a good idea to glue a small animal or bird figurine to the top of the box. Maybe this really gets peoples' attention? Boxes have been modified in many ways over the years with stickers, paint, lace, animals, cars, markers, etc.. Of course some of these modifications have been done by the owners to make them their own and others have been done to potentially increase their appeal - not sure that's happened however.