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A Complete Buyer's Guide to Vintage Lunch Boxes

Vintage lunch boxes are considered to be any manufactured at least 20 years ago, although the period between 1950 and 1987 is widely considered the "Golden Age" for lunchboxes. Whether you're looking for an affordable old lunchbox for yourself, you need a gift for someone else, or you're building a vintage lunch box collection, you need to know how to select the right ones to meet your needs.

Types of vintage lunch boxes

To be classified as antique lunch boxes, they must have been made at least 100 years ago. Being that the first image was placed on a metal lunch box in 1950, all old lunch boxes would fall better into the classification of vintage lunch boxes. These typically depict favorite cartoon characters and characters from the small and silver screens. After the 1950s, lunch box kits overtook standard old lunch boxes, incorporating a thermos that also depicted the same characters as the exterior. The 1960s also saw the advent of the vinyl-covered cardboard lunch box with the first Barbie vintage lunchbox. In addition to popular entertainment characters, vintage lunch boxes from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s also depicted career choices, plaid designs, and military aircraft. Vintage lunch boxes from later years may also have depicted catchphrases of the time and wild, abstract designs.

How to choose from vintage lunch boxes for sale on eBay

When looking to buy vintage lunch boxes, make sure whatever you buy is in the best condition possible. The older and rarer a vintage lunchbox may be, the harder it may be to find one in perfect condition. Try to avoid dings, scratches, or rust in vintage metal lunch boxes and holes, tears, stains, or fading on vinyl-covered cardboard ones, however. If you are looking at vintage lunch box kits, make sure they contain all their original accessories, such as thermoses, and that these are all in as good condition as possible.

Are there some particularly notable vintage lunch boxes?

While collecting vintage lunch boxes is largely a matter of personal taste, there are some old lunch boxes that have objective value based on their rarity and comparative popularity of the cultural icon represented. Among these include:

  • The 1950 Hopalong Cassidy lunch box
  • The 1954 Superman lunch box
  • The 1963 The Beatles and The Jetsons lunch boxes
  • The 1968 Star Trek lunch box
  • The 1985 Rambo lunch box