See 20+ vintage hope chests from the 20th century: Cedar furniture with a special purpose

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Hope chest from 1944

Note: This article may feature affiliate links to Amazon or other companies, and purchases made via these links may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. Find out more here.

Way back when, it’s what every girl wanted: A cedar-lined Lane hope chest for linens and her trousseau. In upper-middle-class homes, giving a teen cedar chest was a longstanding tradition — and practically a requirement for marriage.

Here’s a look at nearly two dozen of the all-important pieces of wooden furniture from the twentieth century, with styles ranging from classic to modern.

And what were they for — specifically? Be sure to see this article for the details: What should you put in a hope chest?


Will a Lane hope chest double her chances for a happy marriage? (1938)

Dec 5, 1938 hope chest 1

Dec 5, 1938 hope chest 2


My heart did a tap dance when my Lane hope chest came! (1941)

May 26, 1941 hope chest


A million maidens yearn for this romantic love gift (1944)

Her Lane hope chest: “That’s what I’m fighting for”

Jan 31, 1944 hope chest

MORE: 71 old wedding superstitions, traditions & marriage myths that range from sweet to silly to sad


Love knows no distance when pledged with a Lane hope chest – The gift that starts the home (1944)

Aug 28, 1944 hope chest


Actress Shirley Temple for linen chests (1945)

Shirley Temple says: “For your real-life romance, a Lane cedar hope chest is the sweetest valentine of all!”

ALSO SEE: Shirley Temple & Bojangles dance up the stairs (1935)

Jan 29, 1945 shirley temple hope chest


It’s love everlasting when romance starts with a Lane (1946)

May 27, 1946 bridal


Slip into her heart forever — give her a Lane this Valentine’s Day (1947)

Jan 27, 1947 hope chest


The hope chest of the ’60s meant more than ever – in a different way (1962)

The Harper County Journal (Buffalo, Oklahoma) December 13, 1962

When the hope chest was in its heyday, Christmas was open season for it, both as a gift and in promises.

These cedar boxes were rare and expensive, as furniture items went in those days, But storage space in homes was at a premium, with few built-in clothes closets; hence, a hope chest made an ideal gift for the daughter about to finish high school.

Presented by parents on the Christmas before her graduation, it was ready to receive the offerings of hand-embroidered linens and hand-pieced quilts, promised by aunts, cousins and grandmothers gathered for the holiday meal.

ALSO SEE: Did married couples really sleep in separate beds back in the ’50s?

By the time a young lady was ready to “set up housekeeping,” her hope chest was filled with monogrammed towels and sheets, and handmade undergarments.

Later, the hope chest was used to store baby’s layette. Now that linens, lingerie and infants’ clothes are so easily bought a few days before the big event, the hope chest has outlived its usefulness. 

Or so it would seem.

Last week, we emptied one to have it refinished as a window seat. As we handled each forgotten item we realized that “hope” had become “memory.”

Out came velvet leaves from Mother’s wedding hat; Grandmother’s eyelet-embroidered wedding petticoat, almost 100 years old; our own engagement dress; our son’s baby jackets and dresses; a heart-shaped Bavarian lace pillow.

As the pile of treasures grew, memories toppled over each other to nestle again in their folds.

One thing about a window seat, we thought happily; there’s still room inside for all our yesterdays. This Christmas, one of our nicest gifts will be the face-lifting of our memory chest!

Its modern painted exterior may fool visitors, but we at home know that what lies inside will enrich the heart.


“For a special someone… on a very special occasion!” (1952)

“I’ve just received the most beautiful gift ever… my shining new Lane Cedar Chest is as unexpected, as precious, as my first love letter — and as lucky, somehow, as a four-leaf clover.”

Sep 15, 1952 hope chest


A hope chest: What a thrifty way to start the new year! (1953)

Now, when your heart is full of hopes and plans for the bright new year ahead… what a perfect time to get your Lane cedar chest!

Can you imagine happier planning than the kind that goes with a Lane… as you gather lovely things for your home or your trousseau, knowing that they’ll stay tissue-paper fresh, sparkling new.

Jan 5, 1953 hope chest


Give her the graduation gift that gathers more gifts (1955)

A Lane hope chest

Whether your girl graduate is trousseau-gathering or just sweater-collecting, a Lane is a gift she’ll adore! one that will become more precious as time goes on.

Every girl loves to plan for the future, to collect fine towels, tablecloths, delicate lingerie and cloud-soft blankets… the lovely things she’ll need when she has a home of her own. And a Lane Hope Chest is a wonderful idea for friends and relatives who will want to help with the happy collecting.

MORE: 129 ways to get a husband: Truly terrible tips from the 1950s

May 2, 1955 hope chest


A lane Sweetheart hope chest (1964)

When he gives you a Lane Sweetheart Chest to fill, you know he’s ready for marriage, for sharing a home, for helping you pick out the tables, bedroom and dining room furniture you’ll want by Lane.

Vintage hope chest from Lane (1964)


A Lane love chest (1980)

From someone who loves you, a gift to hold the things you love

“I love you.” Few gifts say it as beautifully as a love chest. It’s a centuries-old tradition.

And now the gift that says it all says it better than ever. For the cost of postage and handling, your very own love story will be branded on a cedar plaque for mounting inside the lid of your chest…

Wooden hope chest - linen chest from 1980

NOW SEE THIS: What should you put in a hope chest? A look back at this old tradition

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One Response

  1. I have a lane ceder chest model # 3132 cant find its value. the out side finish is fair no chips but grainy looking .

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