Many Americans have fond memories of sitting at a wooden desk trying to focus when all they could think about was what their mother had put in their lunch box. Others have memories of watching their parent’s head off to work with a metal lunch box in their hands. Those lunch boxes are now highly collectible. If you would like to find one, then make sure to check out an estate sale.
The first metal lunch box was manufactured in 1935 in Milwaukee by Geuder, Paeschke, and Frey. Officially called the lunch kit, the metal lunch box featured Mickey Mouse who had won the hearts of many after being invented seven years before. Fastening the lunch kit was a metal wire that also served as the handle.
Lunch boxes are rated on a scale from one to ten. Those rated 10 must have the original tags and all packing materials, while those rated nine may only have minor scratches on the bottom from sitting on a shelf. By the time that a lunch box is rated five, the lunch box may have a visible dent or scratch, the surface paint may be faded, and there may be light rust present. Those rated one are unusable and is tough to tell what character or design was on the lunch box.
For most collectors, lunch boxes made before 1940 have very little value unless they are historically significant for some reason. Those boxes made after 1950, are rated on a rarity scale from 10 to one. To achieve a 10 rating, experts think there are less than 15 known lunch boxes still available in that design. By the time a lunch box receives an R5 rating, there are between 500 and 1,000 examples. These are often the best sellers as demand for these lunch boxes usually stays high.
One of the most collectible lunch boxes is the 1954 Superman lunch box. This box features Superman fighting a robot. When this lunch box is rated 5, it is worth several thousand dollars. A Superman box that was rated 7 was sold for $13,000.
Another very collectible lunch box is the Toppie box. This box was only available when people who shopped at the Kroger grocery chain traded in their stamps for the box featuring a pink plaid elephant that shoppers recognized as Toppie. Experts rate this box as an R9 because they think there are only about 12 in existence. This lunch box has sold for up to $6,000.
When Star Trek first appeared on television in the late 1960s, the company authorized the logo and characters for very few items. Therefore, a Star Wars lunch box made between 1966 and 1969 is highly collectible. Even though originally over 250,000 lunch boxes sold, they are still highly collectible.
Collecting lunch boxes is an excellent way to recall your childhood. Watch for them at the next estate sale that you attend.
Photo source: Wired
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