Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ordinary Tin Bucket Became First Lunchbox in Late 1800s

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ordinary Tin Bucket Became First Lunchbox in Late 1800s

Article excerpt

Collecting is a great way to remember your childhood, so it is not surprising that old, metal lunch boxes have become popular collectibles.

The idea of a tin pail or box to hold a lunch is not new. In the late 1800s, products like tobacco were sold in tin containers with handles so they could be reused as lunch boxes. The boxes were decorated with ads for the product.

In those days, many men took a lunch with them to their work in factories, fields or offices.

The tradition of the lunch box continued in the 1900s. In 1949, it is said, the makers of Aladdin vacuum bottles thought it might increase their lunch box sales if they put a picture of a popular TV star on the box and the bottle.

They put a decal of Hopalong Cassidy on a plain box, and it sold so well that others followed. Roy Rogers, another TV cowboy, had his own litho-graphed steel lunch box by 1953. More than 2 million were sold.

The steel boxes remained popular in the 1950s and '60s. Hundreds of different boxes picturing TV, movie and comic characters, and even popular toys, were made.

In the 1970s the Florida legislature passed a law outlawing metal boxes because they were dangerous -- some were used to bash school classmates. After that, lunch boxes were made of hard plastic or vinyl. They are still decorated with popular images, but they have lost some of their glamour. Metal boxes in excellent condition sell for hundreds of dollars each.

Q: I have a teapot that my grandfather always called the "Chinese pewter" pot. Does the name mean something special?

A: Pewter has been made in China since 200 BC. By the 18th century, tea caddies were often decorated with engraving. Many pewter pieces, including trays, teapots, candlesticks, ink stands and vases, were made for export to Europe. Many closely resembled Europeanmade pewter. The Chineseand European-inspired pewter pieces are still being made in Asia. Collectors call most of these pieces "Chinese pewter." It should be noted that, in recent years, some have been made in India, Korea, Taiwan and other countries.

Q: I have a miniature teddy bear, 3 inches tall. The arms and legs are moveable, and the head swivels. …

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