Here are the rules.
1. Collect cereal boxes n cereal boxes only.
2. Do not collect cereal related advertising crap.
3. Do not collect box tops or half boxes.
Save your money for near complete boxes. One or 2 missing flaps is acceptable.
4. Do not buy cereal boxes in really poor condition.
Buying crap to have an example is not a good idea. A crappy condition box will just eat at you over the years. Even stored away, in your mind you know it is there.
Fancy Dealers will happily sell you shit. Take your time, not having it is better than having crap. If you don't have it, it's always out there just waiting for you to find it. The Quest.
I'd rather own the newer boxes I talk about below than a cool old box in poor condition.
5. Do not collect cereal premiums.
Don't fall into the premium trap. I spent 20 years collecting premiums, when I actually should have ignored them n collected the Cereal Boxes they came in. I could honestly kick myself for that. Collecting premiums is only collecting half the picture. Collecting both is a diffusion of efforts. Every premium you buy to go with a box is an additional cereal box you could have acquire with that money. The Cereal box alone is enough, the illustration of the premium on the box covers the premium. Buying the premium also is a waste of time n money.
The number of Cereal Boxes you can collect is huge enough without wasting needed funds on extraneous items. I'll tell you a secret, the biggest mistake I made with Pez was buying all that crap that was not actually a pez dispenser. I wasted massive amounts of time n money on stupid.
Terms n Definitions
Full = box with original contents.
A box full of cereal, like on the shelf at the store or in your cupboard.
Flattened = a box that was once full of cereal, then emptied & carefully flattened, using existing side seams. The box will show you how as you attempt it.
Will have glue marks from opening on flaps.
|flattened cereal box|
Shaped Flat = a flat that has been folded at side seems & glued. Top & bottom flaps have not been folded on a shaped flat. Shaped flats are the printers product ready for use at the factory.
A Flat = unused, never assembled. These can come two ways, an uncut sheet or a cut sheet ready to be shaped & glued. Most commonly these are found as cut sheets. I fold these once at the seam for shipping. I find it just plain stupid to attempt to ship a flat unfolded, every additional square inch of shipping surface increases the chance of damage when shipping. All file copies at manufacturers are folded once at a seam. Get over it people, it does no damage realistically to the flat & extends the overall life condition of the flat.
Uncut Sheet = A Flat that has not been cut out of the printer sheet.
Similar to proof sheets below but without color bar n excess white cardboard.
Proof Sheet = Once all the design n conversation is done, a sheet of the agreed upon box is printed. Then it is approved or disapproved. A dated signature with OK will often be on one.
Proof Sheet examples
|Proof Sheet examples|
|Proof Sheet examples|
|Proof Sheet examples|
How do you Figure out the year a cereal box was actually made?
* Never go by the copyrights on the side panel. Copyright year can be wildly off.
* Best is if the box has a sell by date stamped into a top or bottom panel. Usually box was manufacture in previous year of sell by date. Though these are not always there.
* Another way is if the box has an offer form with an expiration date. Example = Offer expires December 31, 1993. Box is from 1992 in all likelihood.
* Sometimes you may find a date on a bottom side panel flap. Example = 5-92. On that one that is the date of manufacture.
* One final way. On some boxes there is a circle of numbers with say 95 in the center. That is that boxes year of manufacture.
* Though sometimes there are none of the above. In that case scour all panels for any date that seems reasonable.
Now for a very controversial subject.
How to collect, do you leave the cereal in the boxes or empty the box & carefully flatten them? Please remember this is my opinion.
I would not give you 2 cents more for a cereal box with contents still in it. I'm actually a little ticked off when I buy boxes that have contents instead of being flattened. Full boxes cost a ton to ship & are prone to damage in shipping. Flattened boxes ship & store better. Getting a box from here to there in time is accomplished with less damage to the box if they are flattened.
To me nobody in there right mind would collect full boxes. You say you like to display them, ok. I've been collecting cereal boxes for over 30 years. Full boxes damage themselves just sitting on the shelf. They belly & bag. Dust can & does damage the box. Light damages the box. The contents themselves damage the box. All this is going on year after year even when in adding a box to a shelf, dusting etc, you don't knock one off & damage a corner. Flattened boxes is the only sure way to collect cereal boxes & minimize damage to your collection over the years.
I ship cereal boxes between 2 sheets of cardboard. Double corrugated is best. Also best if the cardboard you use to ship is big enough that you can fold it once to create the shipper. Use a piece that after folded once creates an envelope 1/2 inch bigger on all sides than the cereal box you are shipping. I find a cereal box has one ship in it without damage. If a person returns the box in original packaging it will most likely have damage.
there is one flaw almost every cereal box that ever served time on a store shelf will have. It is the top crease in the middle from where people commonly pick it up. More or less people pick up a box of cereal from the top using the thumb on one side index finger same hand on the back side. We all do it. Check yourself out next time at the store, grab a box off the shelf, pause & note the indentation you made in the box. To me this is the common flaw in almost all flattened cereal boxes. You can prize for it not being there, but it would be nuts to discount for it.
Again why I only collect flattened boxes. Say miracle of miracles you have a full box on a shelve at home. Are you gonna put an armed guard on it to keep some idiot from picking it up the most common way everyone in the world would. If a cereal box is full it will get this crease sooner or later.
Cut up boxes & torn boxes.
If damage to a box exceeds 10% of the overall box appearance. Why Bother. You might buy it cause you can't afford better or even find another, but good luck ever getting your money back. Torn or cutup boxes are difficult to resell. A coupon like Betty Crocker or a proof of purchase cut from a top or bottom flap I can live with as long as it does not affect front, back or side panels.
I've got to be honest with you. Boxes I buy from the 1990s or later with tears or are cut up, I just tear them in half & throw them away. There just not worth the space they take up.
I don't cover or do autographs in the Cereal Box Price Guide. To be honest, once a cereal box is autographed to me it leaves cereal boxes n goes to the sports or autograph world. Autographs are not what The Cereal Box Price Guide is about, it's about cereal boxes only. For autographed cereal boxes you need to talk to sports card or celebrity autograph guys. That most assuredly is not me.
I don't want little Joey or Jo Anns signature on my cereal boxes n I don't want Tiger wood's either. I like cereal boxes no ink please.