We have frequently been asked the question of whether to keep a box or not. There are all sorts of answers. For years, it had been propagated that you always needed to keep the box of the object that you purchased. That all sounds good if you have a huge warehouse to store everything. Even if you have a large house, do you really want it cluttered with boxes? Also think about the potential fire hazard. If you have ever seen the television show called “Hoarders”, you well understand the need to frequently clean out items that are not that important to you any more. With everyone scaling down and having precious limited space, the answer becomes a sometimes issue.
Let us tackle this sticky question from various alternatives. As with most items the box being collectible, is based on supply and demand only. So if we think about it, then age, quality and style are not reasons to keep a box. Rather the mortality or short amount of original boxes would be a good reason to keep them. In the past many items never came in a box for the customer to take, but sometimes they had a display box for the store to show them off in. This would be a good example of one type of box to keep. Items that would have been used up or taken out of a box and used also would be a type of box to keep. An example of this is some of the 1940s figural or novelty soaps that were produced. Ones found in the box will bring a much better price than ones without the original box. Also these boxes were made to look like presentation or display boxes.
Two particular categories that come to mind that will have increased value with their original boxes are toys and children’s dishes. Toys many times have a box that will enhance the ability to display the toy. Children’s dishes usually will have special slots for each of the pieces. This fact will allow the set to be displayed at its best. One rule of thumb might be the following: if an item came in a box that would have normally been given to a child, then this would be a box that should be kept. Remember that for little boys this is more important than for little girls. Boys almost never took good care of anything and girls normally would. Unless their brothers might get a hold of them, then the picture changed. Examples might be like old toys that boys would have had and dolls that girls would have played with.
Next, are the many new items that were sold to be collectible? In our opinion, none of these will increase their value if they still have their boxes. The exception to this might be any coins or items that the box becomes the presentation format for them being displayed. The only difference comes in if it makes it easier to store the item when not in use, such as Christmas ornaments. The original boxes will protect the ornaments while they are being stored.
Another factor comes in when shipping an item. If we get an item with its box, we first determine what we are going to do with it. If it is going to a show or our antique mall space, then we will discard the box, since it will take up too much room. If we are going to sell it on eBay, then we will keep the box for shipping. Many times the bidders want to know that the item they are bidding on will be properly packed. With having the original box, we can state in the description that the item will be double packed. This fact will generally cause the item to get higher bids. A good example of this would be the Department 56 Christmas houses and accessories because they are so fragile as to need the Styrofoam original boxes to keep them safe.
We find many items come in a plain brown box that only has a paper label to designate that this is the box for this piece. We would feel all of this type of packaging would not be good to try to keep up with.
Last would be like the old joke “What are the first three things I need to know about collecting? The answer is condition, condition and condition!” Once any box becomes aesthetically unable to be displayed with the item, then this would also be one that would not be a good idea to keep.
As with any question, there can be many different answers that can all be correct given the various circumstances. Basically, feel free to discard the box to make room for other items and not worry that it will affect the items future value. Enjoy your item but recycle the box to eliminate the clutter in your house.