The Kings of Cowboy Collectibles

Serving as role models for kids across America, the heroes of yesteryear rode horses, packed pistols, and brought bad guys to justice. Learn more about several of the all-time favorites here, along with associated collectibles that are still popular today.

  • 01 of 03

    Roy Rogers

    Roy Rogers Chow Wagon Lunchbox with Thermos - Sold for $325 in September, 2015 at Morphy Auctions
    Roy Rogers Chow Wagon Lunchbox with Thermos - Sold for $325 in September, 2015 at Morphy Auctions. Morphy Auctions

    This singer and actor makes the top of the list since he was actually nicknamed “King of the Cowboys” back in his day. He starred in more than 100 western films along with his faithful horse Trigger. His classic song “Happy Trails” lingers in the hearts of his fans. His wife Dale Evans, and her horse Buttermilk worked alongside Rogers and Trigger on their own television series beginning in 1957.

    When it comes to Roy Rogers collectibles, the field is vast. When this star hit his stride, especially during the television era when he garnered more fans than ever, anything and everything had his picture on it. This included lunchboxes like the 1955 example shown here, along with other models made in subsequent years. They usually sell in the $125 to $350 range at auction.

    Some of the most popular items with kids were toy gun sets. Back in the day when it wasn’t politically incorrect to play cowboy complete with a toy cap gun, little buckaroos had a nifty set of six-shooters they could tuck into their child-sized holsters. Those in the original packaging with all accessories still in place bring the most at auction today, often selling in the $450-650 range. Without the original boxes, the price drops to $100 to $175.

    Advertising signs featuring Rogers hawking everything from trick lassos to cereal to “win your own pony” appeal to a cross-section of the collecting community. Rogers fans want them, but those who seek advertising memorabilia snatch them up whenever possible. Rarities go even higher, but these can be located for $200 to $600, depending on the subject matter.

  • 02 of 03

    Hopalong Cassidy

    Wyandotte Hopalong Cassidy Cap Pistol
    Wyandotte Hopalong Cassidy Gold Plated Cap Pistol - Sold for $390 in May, 2014 at Morphy Auctions. Photo courtesy of Morphy Auctions

    The character Hopalong Cassidy, played by William Boyd, was affectionately nicknamed "Hoppy" by his fans. Hopalong Cassidy originated as a rough and tumble character in a 1930s novel, but the image was cleaned up for later films, radio, and television programs. The black-hatted cowboy hero riding a beautiful white horse named Topper won the hearts of many children, and of course, marketing ensued.

    So many kiddos wanted to be like Hoppy that even children’s bedroom furniture and linens featured his likeness. He made his way to the breakfast table, as well. Children’s dish sets were available, some in boxes denoting them as “Chuck Wagon Sets” or “Chow Sets” to give them more Western appeal. Single milk glass mugs with decals in varying solid colors were also made in the 1950s, and the price remains affordable on these.

    Some of the most expensive Cassidy items are original movie posters. These can sell for hundreds these days, and occasionally thousands. For something more middle of the road, look for roller skates, cameras, and even wristwatches

  • 03 of 03

    Lone Ranger

    Airline Lone Ranger Radio
    Airline Lone Ranger Radio - Sold for $500 in September, 2015 at Morphy Auctions. Photo courtesy of Morphy Auctions

    Based on a western novel about a Texas Ranger who was the lone survivor of six, this masked hero first garnered a following as a character in a popular radio show in the 1930s followed by a series of subsequent books. From 1949 through 1957, he was played by Clayton Moore on television riding his faithful steed named Silver. His sidekick, Tonto, was played by Jay Silverheels.

    Just like the characters they portrayed, these men are said to have set high standards for themselves as role models to set good examples for the children who followed their lead. The good boys and girls, subsequently, had the option to ask for Lone Ranger toys and novelties as gifts.

    Some of the toys included tin wind-ups, standing figures of Lone Ranger riding Silver, and various target and board games. Most of these collectibles sell in the $100 to $300 range today.

    Lone Ranger radios of varying types can sell from $500 to $1,000 or more when in excellent condition. Those seeking more reasonable priced items often focus on the variety of pin-back buttons and badges related to this cowboy legend who still has many fans today.