Determining the Value of a Lane Cedar Chest

The cedar-chest division of the Lane Company closed down in 2001 after making cedar chests for 89 years. Chests manufactured before 1987 may contain the lock that lacks a special safety feature, which sparked a recall in 1996, but the company will replace the lock if you give them the chest's serial number; you can find it on the bottom of the chest, on paperwork that came with it or inside the chest. The older and rarer the cedar chest is, the higher its value and its desirability to those who want it.

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The more rare your Lane cedar chest, the higher its value.

Calculate Its Age

All Lane cedar chests have a serial number -- it doubles as the manufacturing date the chest was made when you read the number from right to left or backward. This means a chest generally has a five- or six-digit number that tells the month, day and two-digit year it was built. A chest built on April 1, 1940, would read from left to right 04140. Chests manufactured on two-digit days and in two-digit months generally have at least six digits. If the serial number has seven digits, the first number in the series is the plant number.

Assess Its Condition

Examine the chest carefully to determine its state or condition. Scratches, worn cedar or missing hardware -- except for the lock -- bring down the chest's value, especially when compared with one in pristine condition. If the chest has been repainted, re-stained or contains any after-market adjustments, its value decreases. Some special models of these chests came off the production line with upholstery, which is part of the original manufacture, so complete the research on your chest to determine if everything on it is original.

Safety Lock Removal

Chests manufactured up to 1987 include a lock that catches and locks shut automatically when the lid closes. This led to the deaths of a brother and sister in 2014, who got locked inside the chest and suffocated. Six other children suffered the same fate, resulting in the company's recall on the locks in 1996, and a seventh child died just prior to the company stopping manufacture of the chests. Many people have removed the locks from the chests, but the company estimates there are [still about 6 million chests of the 12 million manufactured during this period that do not have the safety locks installed[( Chests with the original locks may have a different value from those without them. If the lock hasn't been replaced, do so immediately or remove the lock for safety's sake.

The Chest's Style

The company made chests in multiple styles over the years such as Art Deco, Chippendale, Mid-Century Modern and Danish Modern. The company may have made chests in a traditional antique style, such as Queen Anne, even if they were made in the 1920s. Online auction sites, antique shops and secondhand stores often sell Lane cedar chests -- based on their age, condition or rarity -- starting at $99 and as high as $700 or more for older chests. But most chests -- on average -- are valued between $200 and $400. Lane also made jewelry boxes and similar small chests that were replicas of its larger versions.