Dukes of Hazzard collectable lunch box from 1980, $15.

By now, everyone must know that collecting antique and vintage lunch boxes is popular. I'll admit that when I first saw this old Dukes of Hazzard lunch box, my first thought was that it was a fake. And since this old box had been on the table at the yard sale all morning before I got there, maybe that's what everyone else who saw it was thinking!

Anyway, after carefully inspecting this box, I determined that this box is indeed the real 1980-vintage deal. Now, why would someone buy a lunch box, take off the tag, put it inside the box, and then put the damned thing away for 25 years? Well, the lady having the yard sale told us her stuff was out of a friend's closed antique shop, which was a story that sort of made sense. Of course, it wasn't her closed antique shop, or she'd have known what this box was, and would’ve wanted much more it than what she was asking.

The above brings to mind an interesting phenomenon you should watch for, which I like to call the 'King Tut Syndrome.' Often times, when you encounter a seller who wants way too much money for his stuff, it’s because he bought the item new, still has a burning memory of what he paid for it, and can’t bear to 'give it away' to an unappreciative stranger. Chances are, he'll own the stuff until the day he dies, and if his will has been correctly structured, he can stipulate to have all the stuff buried right along with him! So although he didn't ever manage to sell the stuff while he was alive, at least he didn't let those lowballing yard sale buyers get the best of him!

I vividly remember a yard sale a few months ago where an old lady was selling a bunch of house painting equipment out of her garage. Apparently she had owned some sort of house painting business, and was now trying to unload all the equipment. Her prices were outrageous, and she even had a Sherwin Williams catalog on display at her sale (from where she’d originally bought the equipment) to show potential buyers just how much she had to pay for that stuff.

When a guy tried to make her offer on one of her machines, she acted as if he’d called her a vulgar name! She scowled and barked at him, 'I'll be buried with this stuff before I give it away!' Of course, this is a severe example of what I'm talking about here, but you get the idea. And yes, all that stuff is still in her carport today. But at least she kept the looters at bay!

In our case with the lunch box, there's no attachment because our seller took the goods from the owner of the closed shop, who likely would've known what it was worth and would’ve tried to get more for it at the sale. To the lady at the yard sale, this box was just another item to unload, which is what we like to see!

So, aside from the stuff I've been rambling on about, is there anything to pass on here about the box itself? Well, first of all, you should look for dates. Although the new 'repops' (new reproductions) are not really intended to deceive anyone (since they're usually imprinted with the year they were 'repopped,') someone is sure to get fooled somewhere.

Be sure the thermos is included. Remember that these boxes all came with their own little thermos bottles, which people seem to forget to look for. And a missing thermos will decrease a lunch box's value tremendously.

Finally, although you should look for great condition, you should also look for signs of age. Sure, I want my vintage lunch box to be in perfect condition, but what are my chances of really finding one of these museum pieces at a yard sale? What I'm much more likely to encounter are the boxes that have been sitting around on shelves, collecting scrapes, scratches and maybe a little rust along the rolled seams.

Finally, keeping in mind the Auctionbandits rule about the importance of paperwork, just keep in mind that the little paper thermos tag that the seller saved inside this box will add to this box's value.

This 1980 vintage Dukes od Hazzard lunch box sold on eBay for $81.

Photo of vintage 1980 Dukes of Hazzard lunch box