YOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO VINTAGE LANE FURNITURE
Equipped with the tagline “Furniture for the Future,” Lane is among the most recognizable Mid-Century furniture brands. The Altavista, Virginia-based brand dominated the American furniture market in the 1950s and 60s, with collections of Danish Modern-inspired, structurally confident furniture that didn’t aim to be trendy so much as it aimed to be enduring.
As one might expect from a company so fixated on longevity, Lane got its start by doing one thing and doing it well—in their case, red cedar chests. If you happen to find one of these vintage Lane furniture pieces, snap it up! Ranging in style from Art Deco to country, these vintage chests make for maverick playroom or foot-of-the-bed storage. In fact, these chests were so desirable at one time, that Lane touted them as “sweetheart chests” and promoted them as the promise rings of the 1940s and 50s.
In the 1950s, vintage Lane furniture expanded to include side tables and case goods, and by 1965 the company had mushroomed again, this time to include accent pieces. During these years, Lane produced dozens of collections. To help break them down, you’ll find a summary of some of the most iconic vintage Lane furniture collections below, along with tips on how to vet your vintage Lane furniture as true originals!
Oh-so aptly named, Lane’s Acclaim collection holds the title of the best-selling Lane collection of all time. Introduced in 1959, this collection of vintage Lane furniture was designed by Andre Bus. Similar to Drexel’s Declaration line, Bus wanted to create a collection that captured elements of both modernity and traditionalism. For those who fancied themselves modernists, but maintained a colonial comfort zone, the Acclaim collection proved to be an irresistible combo. Although the tables from this collection were clearly indebted to Danish Modern design, they exuded a hand-crafted feel which likened them to more traditional pieces. And what were those handcrafted details, exactly? Try sculpted, hand-rubbed corners and walnut tops dovetailed with fruitwood borders. The two-tone dovetailed effect is the line’s signature, boasting craftsmanship so skillful that you can run your hand over the joints without feeling a blip.
Anyone who already knows a little something-something about used Lane furniture is likely to know that the company went through a Brutalist phase in the 1970s. Their “Mosaic” line prefaced the trend, featuring pieces that were surfaced in three-dimensional blocks. In 1973, Lane took the trend even further, introducing the Pueblo line, which consisted of geometric, cubist-style carvings on armoire fronts, dresser drawers, and headboards. Although these pieces are often likened to Paul Evans' metal Cityscape series, Lane’s pieces were wood and therefore featured a much rougher finish (including purposeful saw-tooth marks). The overall effect are pieces that feel not cosmopolitan, but rugged and bohemian. While the Pueblo line is a definite love-it or hate-it kind of thing, it’s hard even for naysayers to deny the artistry of these vintage Lane furniture pieces.
When it comes to the swooping International Design style made famous by Oscar Niemeyer in the 1960s, Broyhill had the Brasilia line, Heywood-Wakefield the Sculptra collection, and Lane the Silhouette series. Composed primarily of tables, the Silhouette collection featured pieces with swooping, pedestal bases. To ensure these sculptural bases were treated like the eye-candy that they were, the series’ table tops were made of glass rather than wood. The result? Tables that stun from every angle. If you’re looking for a piece of used Lane furniture that feels like a slight deviation from their wholesome Mid-Century look, but also doesn’t feel like a total departure (à la the Pueblo series), try a piece from the Silhouette collection. The series features some of the Lane’s more envelope-pushing pieces—including a biomorphic coffee table and a wedge side table—but still maintains a sophisticated aesthetic.
As if its Scandinavian appearance wasn’t apparent enough, one of the original advertisements for Lane’s Perception line featured a horned-helmet Viking seated at a Perception dinette set. Clean-lined and vaguely atomic in appearance, the Perception line exuded a playfulness that wasn’t always apparent in Lane’s earlier pieces. Case pieces and living room tables from the Perception series displayed woven walnut details, along with sculpted V-shape or H-shape legs. The dining set procured the same sculpted appearance, but came matched with crescent-backed chairs. As a whole, this collection of vintage Lane furniture showcases Lane’s expertise with wood, as no sharp angles exist on any piece; each corner having been buffed to a platonic shine.
TIPS FOR IDENTIFYING YOUR USED LANE FURNITURE
In general, if your used Lane furniture is authentic, it will be marked. Look for a logo stamped either underneath the piece or in a drawer interior. Logos will always include the words “Lane Altavista, VA” but sometimes the words will be unframed and other times they’ll be encapsulated in a jar-like silhouette or a forest motif. Each used Lane furniture piece should also be imprinted with a serial number. A handy tip: read the serial number backwards and it should reveal your piece’s date of production!
In the event your used Lane furniture piece is older (by which we mean, you have one of those coveted red cedar chests!), your piece may be stamped with the words “Standard Red Cedar Chest Company.” Rest assured, this does mean your piece was made by Lane. The name Red Cedar Chest Company was just an earlier incarnation of the Lane name.