It’s cool to own an original, first-gen iPhone. But if you really want to show that you were among the Apple faithful — a true believer who queued up for Cupertino’s inaugural handset back on June 29, 2007 — you’re going to want an extra accessory: the custom paper bag it came in.
More than just an oddball Apple collectible, it’s an early example of the extraordinary care Cupertino puts into packaging its magical devices.
When is an iPhone bag more than just a bag?
OK, we realize that writing about the original iPhone bag is kind of crazy. After all, it’s just a paper bag, right? But the bags, available only to customers who lined up to buy the first iPhone on launch day in 2007, possess a certain amount of geeky completist charm.
“At the time, people thought it was just a bag, but as a collector I knew this would be discarded by many with the passage of time, so kept mine safe,” says Mark Johnson, a U.K.-based Apple collector who queued up on day one to get his iPhone a decade ago.
When you consider the level of attention that goes into Apple’s packaging — the company has gone as far as hand-painting the edges of iPhone boxes to ensure a uniform color — you also know there’s absolutely no way this particular bag wasn’t personally signed off on by Steve Jobs.
With its high-quality, strengthened-paper finish, and the word “iPhone” in silver foil, it perfectly reflects the kind of upmarket luxury retail environment Jobs wanted Apple to convey.
Apple bags: Obscure collector’s items
Apple has since gone on to produce similar high-end paper bags for the Apple Watch (for our money, it looks like Apple may well have reused the 2007 design). The company even patented its own paper bag design, suggesting that this isn’t exactly a casual creation.
While Apple may not have viewed this as a throwaway design, the fact that so many iPhone buyers clearly didn’t get the memo turned the original iPhone bag into something of a rare collector’s piece.
For a short while after the launch, the bags became a hot ticket on eBay — with one person bidding $305 for the bag alone, which is more than many phones cost at the time.
Today, it’s hard to track down one of the oddball collectibles. A search of eBay didn’t reveal anything, which suggests that Johnson is correct — few of these iPhone launch day bags remain in existence.
So would he part with this Apple collector’s item if the right buyer appeared?
“I think the bag is only worth [$25 to $40] as a symbol of that iconic day back in 2007 for someone to complete their collection,” he told Cult of Mac. “Getting $305 dollars would be nice, though!”
Show us your Apple collector’s items
Do you own any offbeat promotional items from the launch of the original iPhone (or any of the models since then)? Tell us all about your favorite Apple collectibles in the comments below.