Antique in the Making: Lunchboxes


What was your favorite lunch box growing up? Did you ever imagine that someday that lunch box might be highly sought after?

As the industrial revolution brought us into the 20th century, the need for lunch on the go, and a way to carry it, became a necessity. Adults used sturdy, metal pails to carry their lunch to work and children wanted to emulate their parents by doing the same. Kids first used biscuit or cookie tins, until companies began marketing lunchboxes with patterns or kiddy designs on them.

Walt Disney was the first to license a character lunch box, with minimal success, when he put Mickey Mouse on a box in 1935. The 1950s saw a boom in demand for character lunchboxes, Roy Rogers, Zorro and Hopalong Cassidy went from TV to lunchroom staples. It was a genius ploy that hasn’t ended. Characters from Charlie’s Angels and The Brady Bunch to Star Wars have graced lunchboxes and made them “must haves” for children everywhere.

There are many variables into what makes a lunchbox more collectible than another. Condition is paramount, a The Munsters box in mint condition is worth $400, the same box in poor condition is worth less than $100. Supply and demand dictate price as well, more collectors are likely to be searching for a Howdy Doody box than they are The Dukes of Hazard box. The thermos can also play a large part simply by being present or absent.

As with any collecting, it’s best to buy what you like. Purchasing a Flintstones lunchbox like the one you had in third grade will put a big smile on your face. Perhaps finally buying that Beatles lunchbox that mom said “no” to so many years ago will feel like a victory. Whatever reason, and whatever you’re looking for, be sure to check out America’s favorite source for all things antique, Heart of Ohio Antique Center.

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