Lane Miniature FAQ's
How many miniature boxes did Lane make?
Lane executives estimate they distributed at least 27 million miniatures between 1930 and 1998. However, boxes distributed but not manufactured by Lane were gifted as early as 1925 and sold as late as 2004 so the number could be even higher!
What are the Lane miniature boxes worth?
Short answer: They are worth what someone will pay for them. Boxes can be found at garage sales for as little as a couple dollars or on-line for around $25.00. Unfortunately, there isn’t any real rhyme or reason regarding their “value.” Some sellers consider rarity or condition when pricing the boxes - but not many at this point. Some boxes are definitely worth more than others based on age and rarity but at this time those are not being recognized. Interestingly, the city or town branded under the lid may lead some buyers to value one box over another for purely sentimental reasons.
Why are some boxes different than others?
It’s all about their age. A chronology has been established based on evidence the boxes, themselves, have offered as well as clues their owners have left in the form of notes and inscriptions on the boxes. The chronology can be found in the Box Variations Chronology section of this website. Over the years, Lane looked for ways to streamline the manufacturing process and reduce the cost of each unit. Therefore, the more features the boxes have, generally the older they are. For example, the box with fluted front corners from 1936 was much harder to manufacture than the simple, no frills box made in the 1990’s.
I’m a lady that graduated between 1925 and 2004. Why didn’t I receive a box from Lane?
At the height of Lane’s Girl Graduate Plan in the 1950’s and 60’s, Lane estimated that between one-half and two-thirds of graduating girls were offered a box. Lane furniture dealers facilitated the Plan and each dealer had to qualify for access to it based on sales of Lane cedar chests and the Lane furniture line. In the 1970’s it became increasingly difficult for Lane to access addresses of young ladies. Therefore, dealers had to use other methods like having the names provided by senior class representatives. Some school districts were more strict than others but these privacy concerns, along with other issues, marked the slow decline of the program into the 80’s and 90’s. So, one-half to one-third of young ladies didn’t receive a box and the later you graduated, the less chance you had of getting one.
What was the reason for Lane’s Girl Graduate Plan in the beginning?
The miniatures were offered to the young ladies as a gift from Lane but it was required for the young lady, usually accompanied by her parents, to pick up the gift at the Lane dealership. These visits to the store were very well choreographed by Lane and the dealer. The point of the visit was three-fold. One, congratulate the young lady on her graduation. Two, offer a discount on the purchase of a full sized Lane cedar chest as a graduation gift from the purchaser (parent, grandparent, boyfriend, etc.) to the graduate. And three, to introduce the young lady to the dealer because Lane knew, especially in the early days of the Plan, that half of the graduates would be married and setting up a household (in need of furniture) within eighteen months of graduation. The Lane Girl Graduate Plan of 1925 was one of the first marketing initiatives directed specifically at young women in our country’s history.
Did Lane’s Girl Graduate Plan ever extend to boys?
In 1978 Lane tested the plan with boys but it didn’t catch on and there is no evidence it ever got further than a test. So, no, not really.
Are all Lane miniatures made of cedar wood?
No, in the waning years, the Miniature department at the Lane factory did make boxes of pine. These were mostly sold through specific licensing deals with companies like Disney or sold directly by Lane through their dealerships and were not part of the Girl Graduate Plan. Lane experimented with walnut and mahogany as well but these never made it to market. These experimental boxes do exist and are mostly owned by former Lane employees and their family members and they are very rare and beautiful!
Did Lane only distribute graduating gifts in certain parts of the country?
No, the Lane Girl Graduate Plan was active in all 50 states and boxes have even been found with Canadian dealers’ markings as well.
I have a Lane cedar box but it is cracked. Can it be fixed?
Due to the design of the boxes and the fact that wood moves with humidity changes, many boxes have cracks. Wood glue and clamps will do the trick in most cases. Details of this process can be found in the Care & Repair section of this website.
How many collectors of Lane miniature boxes are there in the United States of America.
One, Chad Hilkemeier. Prove me wrong - see the Contact & Blog section of this website.
What is the rarest of the Lane miniature boxes that has been found?
The idea-man behind the Girl Graduate Plan apparently had the Miniature department in the Lane factory brand boxes with his name inside of them for his personal distribution. The lid logo brand is embossed in gold (not black like all others)…”Presented by J. Arthur Krauss.” Although the box isn’t rare (an early Tall box), the logo brand certainly is.
Only two Large Hasp w/ Feet (LHF) boxes have been found - go here for a description. This is perhaps the original box purchased by Lane in the early years of the Plan (1925) given that, although it has the Lane name, the traditional Lane logo doesn’t appear.
Additionally, ONE Tall Narrow (TN) box has been found. It’s just like its Tall brothers only slightly narrower across the width by ½”.
Where can I purchase a Lane miniature box?
The biggest marketplace for Lane miniatures is ebay - there are well over 100 for sale at any given time. They can also be found on etsy, other online used item retailers, garage sales, tag sales, rummage sales, estate sales, antique shops and thrift stores like Goodwill.
Why doesn’t my Lane cedar box smell like cedar anymore?
This is normal. A gentle sanding with 220 grit sandpaper should bring the scent back as you expose the underlying wood. For a “boost” of the scent, try a little Cedar Oil which is made specifically for this purpose. More details in the Care & Repair section.
I have a Lane cedar box but have lost the key. Now what?
ebay.com. You can buy one key or 100. Search “Lane box key” - they are little simple keys with a heart on the end. One key fits all the locks. If the key doesn’t work, go to the Care & Repair section for further instructions.
Where were the Lane miniature boxes manufactured?
As the working hypothesis goes, Lane purchased cedar boxes from two companies, Pilliod in Ohio and Peterson Brothers Mfgs. in Chicago from 1925 to around 1935 to begin the Girl Graduate Plan. Around 1935 the miniature department at the Lane factory in Altavista, VA was established. Miniatures were made in Altavista from 1935 to 1998. Shortly thereafter, the manufacturing equipment was sold to another company, Personal Creations, and moved to Boston, KY. The equipment was used for one run of 5000 boxes in the early 2000’s and these boxes were purchased by Lane. So, Lane distributed miniature boxes made in Ohio, Illinois, Virginia and Kentucky but around 27 million were made by the fine folks of Altavista, Virginia.