Lunchbox Tins

Written by Jill Morrison
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Lunchbox tins are a treasured part of American culture. They have become valuable collector's items, often being sold for hundreds or thousands of dollars. They can be seen on display in public places as nostalgic reminders of our past. The containers are often recycled for other uses such as supply kits or carrying cases.

History of Lunchbox Tins

In the mid 1800s, empty tobacco, cookie, and biscuit tins were often used as lunch containers. In 1911, the first workman's lunch kit was made which included a thermos bottle. The first flat lunchbox tins for children were produced in 1920. Decorations became a focus with Mickey Mouse being the first licensed character used on these containers.

With the development of television, an abundant supply of licensed television characters became available. Some of the most popular were Howdy Doody, Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, The Lone Ranger, and Superman. By the late 1980s, steel production was discontinued and most lunch kits became plastic. Recognizing the nostalgic value of the metal containers, production resumed in 1998.

Lunchbox tins are a very important reminder of American culture. In 2000, a 1954 Superman box sold for $11,999.99. Many collectors have created an enthusiastic market for this product. Some more recent popular designs are Marvel Super Heroes, Strawberry Shortcake, and Star Wars. Tin lunchboxes may be purchased with or without designs as an appropriate container to connect us with our past.


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