The Box It Came In: Collecting Boxes

We all know that items still in or with their original packaging is a big plus to collectors. Who doesn’t want the item to be as true to its original status and condition as possible?

Old Empty Boxes I CollectI myself have a love of boxes. In fact, I love boxes so much I have empty boxes. No, not boxes which are temporarily void of their contents because they are on display; I mean empty boxes I’ve bought and rescued for which I do not have the contents. Boxes so empty, I do not even know if I will ever see their contents.

But I cannot throw them out. Nor can I let someone else throw them out. So I have to take them home.

It’s a bit compulsive, I know. But I can’t bear to throw out a box because I know some collector somewhere would love to have it. I even go so far asto save and sell boxes for other collectors because I believe it’s just a matter of time until the box is reunited with the object(s) it once held and the collector who will giggle with glee at such a find. I do this because I know I am such a collector.

Boxes often have all the information on them and like this vintage Hollywood Doll box, they often hold the old catalogs or other ephemera which is neat to have as a checklist for other items. But today we’re talking about empty boxes.

Marilyn Monroe Mask BoxSometimes, as in the case of this Marilyn Monroe Mask box, I am hoping that one day I’ll find the mask that’s supposed to be inside it — one that I can afford. Having the box is literally like holding the space for it in my collection.

Along with holding the physical space and place where I will put the mask, the box is a reminder of the hunt. And the information on the box has all the clues I need (name, maker, number, copyright information, etc.).

Maybe that’s why so many old boxes find me… They know I’ll appreciate them and save them.

Vintage Faith Knit Underwear BoxOthertimes, boxes come to me in surprising ways. Like this vintage box for men’s knit underwear.

This box for Men’s Fine Ribbed Union Suits (circa 1930′s) came to me at an auction and I didn’t even know I had it until I was home and we were sorting through our items. The box bottom was tucked into the lid, and open like this is held one of the lot of photography items Derek bid on and won.

Neither of us had any idea it was there — but in my quest to leave no box unexamined, once emptied of all of Derek’s goodies, I flipped it over and Voila!

I’ve often been delighted with discoveries like this.

Vintage Tre-Jur Inc. BoxThe box holding my ‘strange soap people’ was a box from Tre-Jur, a cosmetic manufacturer. Likely from the 1940′s, I’m still not sure what this box held — in fact, I’d never heard of the company before — but that only provides yet another story, another hunt.

(Yay! More for my vanity!)

Maybe that’s another reason I like boxes so much. It’s a question, a puzzle, a hunt, and if you’re lucky, a conversation.

An example of this is this old black box (shown with the vintage Hollywood Doll box above). I grabbed it out of a junk pile at Georgine’s. Other than looking (and feeling) old and fragile — and being a box — there wasn’t anything that particularly grabbed my attention. It has “Siege of Port Arthur” printed on it, but I had no idea what that was. Yet I quickly put it in with my other goodies and took it home. At the time I half considered the possibility that in a future visit to Georgine’s I would find its contents because I’d often found the 8th place setting, the missing volume in a series of texts, the other doll shoe etc. at later visits. (So far, no such luck with this box.)

But one day, at a yard sale I put the box out on a whim. I didn’t sell it, but a gentleman came up to it held it and looked it over. He then told us that he recognized the box as one that held stereoview cards, and that the Siege of Port Arthur was the longest and most vicious land battle of the Russo-Japanese War. Fascinating!

This is the joy of old boxes — the chance to discover!

Empty boxes, they may be empty, but they still hold so much. Buying them never leaves you empty handed.



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stanlee linton In what site do you look for to find there valve..? July 8th, 2008 at 5:04 PM

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