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Some Cereal Boxes Are Keepers

Even empty cereal boxes can be very valuable, says collectibles expert Tony Hyman. You can even buy cereal boxes today that will become future collectors items, he explains on CBS News Saturday Morning's continuing series on collectibles.

Some Saturday Morning viewers wrote in inquiries about cereal boxes: Are they worth anything?

After World War II, manufacturers began marketing cereal on television, Hyman explains. Switching from selling it as a health food to marketing it as children's product, they started using heavily decorated boxes.

The hottest boxes are from the 1960s and 1970s, although the most prized were made a little earlier.

One of the most valuable boxes from a collector's standpoint is a PEP cereal box from the early 1960s, now worth $2,000. Another box featuring the Beatles goes for $2,000 to $3,000.

To locate the likely collectible cereal boxes of tomorrow, Hyman advises looking for:

  • a box depicting a cartoon character or a pop culture icon such as a music or sports star,
  • an offer on the back of the box. (This can increase value because offers usually are presented for a limited time.)
Pour out the cereal, and keep the box either intact or flattened (for easier storage), he says.

For more on cereal boxes, Hyman recommends Paul Scharfman, a California pop culture dealer who rents food-packaging props for movies and television productions. His email address is

Hyman also had some insight into the value of two arcade-style amusement machines that belong to Saturday Morning viewer David Robinson of Massachusetts. The penny-operated machines came from Robinson's late grandfather, a candy wholesaler.

The first works like a slot machine with spinning cigarette brands such as Lucky Strike, Camel, Chesterfield and Old Gold. Made of cast aluminum, it is worth about $800 to $1,000 but could possibly go for as much as $2,000, Hyman says.

The second, a baseball game, lets players pull down on a metal bat to shoot a ball around a spiral track. The ball can drop through holes labeled: sacrifice, first base, second base, third base, home run or out. One penny allows for a half an inning of play. Largely made of tin, the baseball game is worth about $1,200 to $2,200.

Robinson doesnt plan on sellling the games because they are family collectibles but he likes knowing their worth, he says.

Such coin-operated games from the 1930s and 1940s are highly collectible, especially those of cast iron, Hyman says.

For more on coin-operated mechanical games, Hyman recommends Marvin Yagoda, operator of Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum. Contact him through his Web site at

For more information on collectibles go to Tony Hyman's eb site.

Previous CBS News Saturday Morning segments with collectibles expert Tony Hyman are available in the collectibles archive.

If you think you have a collectible worth a lot of cash, send an email to Put "What's it Worth?" in the subject line, or write to "What's it Worth?" CBS News Saturday Morning, 514 West 57th St., 6th floor, New York, N.Y. 10019.

Please note that because of the volume of mail received, Saturday Morning can't respond to all requests, but some will be selected and featured on the show in the near future.

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