Jack in the box toys

A jack-in-the-box is a children's toy that outwardly consists of a box with a crank. When the crank is turned, it plays a melody, often 'Pop Goes the Weasel'. At the end of the tune, the lid pops open and a figure, usually a clown or jester, pops out of the box.


Early in the 1500s, a German clockmaker named Claus made a box for a local prince whose son was about to celebrate his fifth birthday. A simple wooden box with metal edges and a handle, and with a turn of the crank produced a simple tune and out popped a 'Jack,' a Devil, a comical version with a leering smile. Other nobles took note of the child's toy and the idea spread. Technology by the 1700s meant that it was a 'common toy' or novelty often in use for all ages. It was around this time that the image of a devil in a box became cartoon fodder for rogue politicians and other public figures held to ridicule.

Another theory as to the origin of the jack-in-the-box is that it comes from the 13th century English prelate Sir John Schorne, who is often pictured holding a boot with a devil in it. According to folklore, he once cast the devil into a boot to protect the village of North Marston in Buckinghamshire. This theory may explain why in French, a jack-in-the-box is called a 'diable en boƮte' (literally 'a boxed devil').

Updated: 28 September 2021

Jack In The Box value and price guide

What's your Jack In The Box worth in 2021? Here are some recently sold items.

Item Title Date Price
1973 gottlieb jack in box pinball machine four player 1973 Gottlieb Jack In Box Pinball Machine Four Player 07/2021 $1 200.00
mills slot machine jack in box secret stand rare Mills Slot Machine Jack In Box Secret Stand Rare 06/2021 $898.88
victorian composition jack in box punchinello clown toy Victorian Composition Jack In Box Punchinello Clown Toy 07/2021 $260.00
1971 mattel big jim big jack figure still new in box 1971 Mattel Big Jim Big Jack Figure Still New In Box 07/2021 $271.66
9ct gold charms driving licence jack in box lovely c7 9ct Gold Charms Driving Licence Jack In Box Lovely C7 06/2021 $221.34
no pictureSee all sold items on eBay for more prices10/2021$-.--

Jack In The Box forum

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Comments (3)
Dan - July 26, 2021
I have a Grimaldi limited edition musical Jack in the box designed by Faith Wick and licensed under Enesco Imports Corp.It is dated 1986 and numbered 244 out of 7500 made. It is in good condition except for one spot on the outside trim and the Grimaldi clown doesnt pop up. Do you know if it is rare and does it any value?
Approx. 30-40 USD.
Cindy - April 6, 2021
I have a 1972 Romper Room Jack in the Box. It does not work. Metal, not plastic. Is it worth anything?
Pat - February 15, 2021
I have an old Mattel Creations "Jolly Tune" the clown. It does not work anymore and is not in the greatest of condition. There is no date, but has to be at least 65 years old. Is it worth hanging on to or should I toss it? Thank you. Pat
There is one for sale right now on eBay for $16.95