The classic metal lunchbox with thermos flask was once standard issue for the country’s workforce and school children alike. However, the introduction of vinyl (PVC) led manufacturers to switch away from metal as their primary manufacturing material. There is now a growing interest among collectors (and pure nostalgia junkies!) in vintage metal lunch boxes and their accompanying thermos flasks. Unfortunately, the resources currently available on the web are fairly limited. Here is a short guide on how to find what you are looking for:
1. General Information. There are snippets of information around on the history of the lunchbox starting with the classic 1935 Mickey Mouse box, moving onto the heyday of mass popularity during the early 1950s and finally to the slow demise as parents allegedly banned the box from school backpack and lunchbox set playgrounds in 1970s. Since then most of the interest has shifted to collecting.
2. Museums. Search on the web for “lunch box museum”. There are at least 3 of them open to the public in the United States (California, Ohio and Georgia) and probably more around the world. In addition, it is very likely that there are some large private collections so if you contact the owners for more information they may even be willing to grant you a private viewing!
3. Shopping Websites. The price range for the majority of the boxes on sale is pretty low ($5-$20) and therefore you will not find many mass market retailers stocking these items. Instead look to some of the smaller owner-managed e-commerce sites as well as eBay and Amazon – which both have plenty of stock. A search on “lunch box collecting” returns a handful of useful sites if you are more interested in this particular aspect.
4. Finally, I would point out that there are a small number of books available. Probably the easiest way of finding these is to search Amazon for “tin lunch boxes” or “metal lunchbox with thermos” if you more interested in two piece sets. Two notable authors to look out for are Larry Aikins and Allen Woodall. The latter owns the Lunchbox Museum in Georgia and is very much a respected authority on this topic.
I hope this article provides you with some ideas to further your knowledge in a area which although has growing interest still has limited resources available on the web.