Hope Chests were historically used by young unmarried women and/or their families to collect clothing and household linens that would be needed by the young woman in anticipation of marriage. In the United States a hope chest was a traditional coming-of-age gift back in the 1950's. It is still somewhat of a tradition in the southern states, but mostly has died out everywhere else. These days young women get everything they need for marriage via bridal registries.
The Lane Company of Altavista, Virginia began producing and distributing hope chests in 1912. It was their practice, beginning in approximately 1930 to distribute miniature 12" long cedar keepsake boxes to graduating high school girls as advertising gifts. And yes, that is where my love of hope chests began, with this little box:
I got this in 1979 when I was graduating high school. This little box still sits on my dresser and houses things like my tassle from law school graduation. It was distributed by Panosian Home World, which appears to have gone out of business. The Lane Company was purchased in 1987 by hostile takeover and the plant closed in 2001. I guess that now makes these little Lane keepsake boxes a thing of the past.
In any event, the advertising worked because from the moment I got this little box, I longed for a real hope chest. Don't ask me why. I just know I wanted one. And eventually I got one - six years later, as a wedding gift from my mother:
This hope chest resides in my bedroom. It has never held household linens and clothing. Instead, it has been the repository for many keepsake items that I would never give up. And for the last two months of Story Telling Sunday, I'll be sharing with you some of the items tucked away in my hope chest.
By the way, the hope chest has also been a great bench for sitting on to tie shoes, or for stacking clean laundry until it gets puts away. It is unusual to be able to see the surface! :)