Archive

Superman to The Fonz: Vintage lunchbox collection on sale | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World

Superman to The Fonz: Vintage lunchbox collection on sale

The Associated Press
284502AP18264580673316
J. Louis Karp stands beside a case of vintage lunchboxes at Main Auction Galleries Inc., in downtown Cincinnati. Karp, a longtime auctioneer of Cincinnati-area estates has come upon a Baby Boomer delight: hundreds of vintage lunchboxes featuring the heroes of their childhood’s comic books, TV shows, cartoon strips, movies and more.

CINCINNATI — Look, up on the shelf! It’s Superman. There’s the king of the wild frontier himself, Davy Crockett. And over in that case is Davy Crockett again, except this time he’s Daniel Boone (we’ll explain later). And aaaaay! It’s The Fonz and the whole “Happy Days” family!

A veteran auctioneer has on display a baby boomer delight: hundreds of vintage lunchboxes featuring the heroes of their childhood comic books, TV shows, cartoon strips, movies and more.

“I’ve never had anything like this,” said J. Louis Karp, whose family-run business has been part of Cincinnati since the first years after the Civil War. “This is quite different.”

Sure, you can go to any number of websites to buy old metal lunchboxes from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. But to see 250 of them in the same place, to be able to pick them up, and then spot one just like mom packed for you with a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich in the first grade. …

But back to the auction.

Karp regularly sells large estates loaded with rare artwork, antique furniture and collectibles. He has sold vintage lunchboxes before, but never so many. The private collection’s proceeds will benefit younger generations of the owner’s family.

Weldon Adams, a collectibles expert for Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, viewed the lunchboxes online and said such a large, eclectic sale is a rarity.

“We’ve seen some sizable collections,” said Adams. “Having all of them show up at one time is truly an impressive thing.”

Younger people who like kitsch are among lunchbox buyers, Adams said, but they are particularly attractive to those who carried them as children because they are a powerful link “back to our identities of who we were as a child.”

Karp has 250 for an auction ending Sept. 30. There are another 200 he’s planning to auction before the Christmas holidays.

There are lunchboxes with the late actor Fess Parker, who played Crockett and Boone in separate TV series. There is “The Brady Bunch” and “The Partridge Family.” ”The Addams Family” and “The Munsters.” ”Nancy Drew” and “The Hardy Boys.” The Bee Gees and Bobby Sherman.

There are lesser-known ones: “Korg 70,000 B.C.” ”The Guns of Will Sonnett.” ”Goober and the Ghost Chasers.”

Adams said a “wonderfully obscure” one he noticed was from “Here Come The Double Deckers,” a British children’s TV show. Another is from “Fireball XL5,” an early 1960s children’s science fiction show with a fan cult.

“I’m stunned at the breadth of it,” Adams said of the collection.

Bids start at $20 each. Karp shouted upstairs to son Justin, who with his brother Jonas marks the fifth generation of Karps in the auction business, to ask how much different lunchboxes have sold for online.

“Lost In Space” TV series and “The Flintstones” animated series? $225 each.

“How about Popeye?”

“Who’s with Popeye?”

“Olive Oyl, Brutus …”

“Are they in a boat?”

“Yes, fishing.”

“$190.”

Unfortunately, Karp said, many of the lunchboxes lack the Thermos beverage bottles that originally came with them. Those without could draw lower bids.

Karp, 71, reluctantly allowed his sons to bring his auctions into the internet age, and the business takes bids online from anywhere, and by email and phone. But he still enjoys his showroom-floor auctions, seeing the competitors watching one another, and the winners who finally emerge after rounds of tense bidding.

And this Sunday, he might just see some with tears in their eyes.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.