Royal  memorabilia

















Royal  memorabilia






Royal  memorabilia




It remains to be seen whether Prince William and his royal bride, Kate will peek out at us from the kitchen cupboard. It's certainly becoming something of a tradition to manufacture tea caddies, toffee tins and metal biscuit boxes adorned with portraits of Royal Family Members.





Though products such as biscuits were sold in tins early in Queen Victoria's reign, these tins were decorated by stuck-on paper labels or by transfer printing. However, in the 1870s a method of off-set litho printing was introduced which enabled tins to be easily decorated in colour. At the same time improved machinery for canning was devised - no longer did metal containers need to be made by hand. Manufacturers realised that brightly decorated tins made a strong selling point, and soon all kinds of products were packed in them.






Royal  memorabilia



The first Royal tin box was made for Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887. Tin is an ideal medium for decorating because it takes to deep, rich colours and intricate details beautifully. Portraits seem to have better definition than those on china items. It can be embossed too, and polished to a high sheen.






During the Boer War Queen Victoria sent chocolate- filled tin boxes, decorated with her portrait, to soldiers as a New Year's gift. A similar scheme was adopted during the Great War when Princess Mary, daughter of King George V, sent small tins to the troops in France. 





The tins contained cigarettes or pipe tobacco, as well as her photo and an encouraging message, and were slim enough to fit inside the pocket of a soldier's jacket. Gold- coloured, with an embossed head of the Princess on the lid, these tins became almost as treasured as war medals by the lucky recipients.






Royal  memorabilia




Nowadays a Boer War tin (complete with contents) could well cost £50 or so - less if it's empty or very battered - and a Great War tin about the same. Many brightly decorated tins were produced for the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. 












Royal  memorabilia


After the war, tins became even more elaborate, often with full-colour portraits of the monarchs, crests, emblems, crowns and whatever else could be fitted into the design. And many unusual shapes were made, too, including a coronation state coach by Jacob's biscuits in 1937.









Amongst the many tins made for the 1935 Silver Jubilee of George and Mary was one made by Brock's fireworks which, appropriately, showed the royal couple amidst a shower of sparks! Tins from around this time can be found for £20 or so, depending very much on condition.





Royal  memorabilia







 Many collectors won't buy rusty or damaged items, yet it's becoming increasingly difficult to find old tins in pristine condition. Unless they are stored in tissue they soon become scratched and dented. I think a little damage is perfecdy acceptable so long as the price reflects this, and would certainly prefer to have a varied collection of not-quite-perfect tins, than just one absolutely mint specimen.



Royal  memorabilia






Edward VTII's non-coronation produced masses of tin ware which is still extremely easy to find; in fact, it's much harder to come across really good examples for King George VT's coronation. One particularly attractive tea-caddy was printed with sepia photos of George, Queen Elizabeth (now the Queen Mother), Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret. 




Royal  memorabilia

Expect to pay around £15-20 for a similar item. Rowntrees produced an unusual ten-sided tin with a medal attached, to commemorate the same event. One of these will cost you £20 or so today.















A large variety of tins were made for our present Queen's Coronation in 1953, and these frequently turn up in charity shops.


Royal  memorabilia
 A basic toffee or biscuit tin can often be bought for a couple of pounds or so, and sometimes not only are they decorated with photos of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, but with Royal residences such as Buckingham Palace, Windsor or Balmoral, or maybe views of London.




Other items too are produced from tin.

Tea trays, of course, are very common and can be found for many royal occasions,
though they do tend to be scratched unless they have been used purely for decoration.



Royal  memorabilia

More unusual are Thermos flasks - one particularly attractive design, printed on a gold background, has a photo of the Queen's head, with the State Coach,
Horse Guards and Beefeaters in a procession around the lower edge. The procession is dark blue while around the top of the flask is a red EIIR cipher and crown.


A major royal event was the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977, and many tins were made for tea, biscuits, chocolate and sweets. Not long after came the wedding of Prince Charles to Princess Diana, and another flood of decorated tins. These are easy to find today in loads of lovely designs, and make an ideal starting point for collectors.



Royal  memorabilia




The 1986 wedding of Prince Andrew to Sarah Ferguson doesn't seem to have produced much tin ware - maybe companies thought that the public had recently been faced with too many Royal events. The bright red octagonal biscuit tin issued at the time is one which is worth looking out for.










Tin manufacturers need to be able to produce thousands of one design,
otherwise the process is uneconomic. We expect tins to be cheap - almost a by­product of the contents.


Royal  memorabilia
So far, it seems that no food company is willing to place a large order with the tin producers for a commemorative item for Edward and Sophie - let's hope that they do. China mugs are all very well, but nothing can really capture the glowing, rich reds, purples, blues and golds needed to depict the pomp of Royalty. Except tin.

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