Wednesday, February 22, 2012


market place for memories

There they were. The light reflecting from the glistening stainless steel had caught my eye, …… cool, I remember those. My mind immediately flashed to the clatter and pungent aroma of the school lunch rooms we hung around as kids. As I re-actively stretched my hand out to take a closer look at these battered, scratched, and dented pieces of my childhood puzzle, a voice echoed from behind. “You’ve got to be kidding”. My wife’s reminder that every object associated with my childhood wasn’t quite as interesting as I seemed to think, and, that although the sign on the front of the building said antiques & collectibles, you can’t believe everything you read. Still, who’s to say that old school lunch trays won’t someday find a place in the pantheon of Americana? I gave my wife that “but they’re so retro” look, but quickly retreated. We both knew they would only join a growing menagerie of childhood memories deposited in our storage unit. Still ……


We’ve all heard the phrase “buying back our childhood”, and as we get older, for many collectors, our primal obsession is the drive to recapture our past. We scour shops, yard sales and flea markets, hoping to find toys, sports memorabilia, music and other accoutrements of our youth, paying homage to our childhood with prominent displays in our homes and offices. But, if you’re thinking you want to join in the fun, you’d better check your bank balance first. It turns out that many of us are really more interested in collecting the childhood we wish we had. We’re not looking for that brown craft lunch bag we toddled off to school with, we want the lithographed Superman lunch box with matching thermos that the kid sitting next to us had. Sort of a memory upgrade if you will. And, that upgraded childhood can cost plenty. A quick look at collectibles reflecting the popular culture of the 1950’s and 60’s turned up a 1954 Adco Superman Lunchbox for $550, a set of 1964 Beatles bobble head nodders for $490, a 1950’s Marx Fort Apache for $330, a Mattel Fanner 50 cap gun set for $225, and a 1959 #1 Barbie for a mere $2,250. You get the idea. But don’t despair, there are lots of less iconic memories out there, that can be picked up without breaking the bank. You can still buy a 1960’s Batman or Twiggy lunch box for under $50.00, and there are lots of dolls, matchbox cars, Tonka trucks and myriad memories that can be bought for just a few dollars. And if all els fails, don’t worry, you can always think about those intriguing lunch trays.

Looking back is not just an old mans game. It seems to be generation-ally contagious. Dozens of trendy resale shops beckon 20 & 30 something’s with signs touting “vintage or retro”, and shelves filled with merchandise from 70’s, 80’s & 90’s. They better get started while they can still afford it. ‘goo-goo-ga-joob’.

1 comment:

  1. Great history on the lunch box, here is a useful price guide for vintage lunch boxes hopefully it is of help.