Cookie Tins

Cookie Tins
When manufacturers started to sell cookie in tins, they knew they were on to a good thing. Not only did the biscuits last longer in their airtight tins, appealing to thrifty Victorian housewives, but, by making them attractive enough they could be in use long after the biscuits were eaten, ensuring that their name was not forgotten.

Furthermore, they would be given away as gifts ensuring that even more people became familiar with the company.  

 Take a look around your own home. How many biscuit tins do you have in use and how many store contents far removed from their original biscuits?

The first biscuit company to introduce tins into homes was Huntley and Palmer, the largest biscuit manufacturer of the 19th century. 

Cookie Tins

Before that, tins were used in shops to store and display biscuits.

It was improved methods of decoration that made these tins such an effective marketing ploy. Moire Metallique was the first technique used to decorate tinplate, causing a crackled look. Transfer printing or even paper or cardboard pictures and labels, were other early methods.

 However, in 1868, Huntley and Palmer put their biscuits in the first tin with lithographed decoration, after a technique developed four years earlier by The Tinplate Decorating Company of Neath in South Wales.

 These decorations were produced using only two colors

, one usually gold, but designs were complicated abstracts or coats of arms, allowing for a simple shape, more often an oblong.

The company's name was embossed on the side or bottom of the tin, a technique later utilised in the design itself.

Cookie Tins

By the next decade, offset lithography was the most widely used method of decorating tin boxes. It was at this time that more complicated shapes such as domed lids and fancy corners, were introduced, although as the shape was the most expensive part of the process, the same design was produced with different decorations. 

There were more colours and flowers or children were popular.
By the end of the century most tin box manufacturers were using offset lithography techniques for printing. Scenes of the Empire, nursery rhymes and reproductions of paintings were popular subjects. 

The 1890s was the time when novelty was introduced to biscuit tins, and they often resembled specific items such as sundials, clocks, books, first used by Peek Frean,baskets which A1 biscuits were the first to introduce, and then,increasingly, handbags and luggage. 

Many tins were advertised with specific uses in mind for when their contents had been finished, for instance, glove or handkerchief boxes.

Cookie Tins

Eventually the design became so complicated and fragile that the boxes which had been originally intended to protect their contents,came to need protection themselves.

The First World War stopped the production of tins and after the war it was slow to return and when it did there was a trend, once more for simpler shapes which could be produced inexpensively and did not need protecting themselves. Only two or three fancy tins a year were made compared to a dozen in the prewar years.

Art Deco and Japanese designs reflected the general fashion of the time with photolithography producing brighter colours, red and black were popular.

Cookie Tins

However, in the mid twenties, novelty peaked again, in particular with the introduction of tins which could be used as children's toys when empty. There were ships,

forts, cars and delivery vans and tins which could be used for board games. Crawfords were responsible for many of these novelties, but perhaps the most extreme was the clockwork double- decker bus made by Hundey and Palmer.

Cookie Tins
The interwar years were a time when miniature tins containing three biscuits were given away as free promotions by companies including Crawfords, Jacobs, Huntley and Palmer and Carrs, who used the same red oblong tin featuring different designs for twenty years. In the fifties, miniature tins of biscuits became stocking fillers for children.

 The Second World War resulted in a shortage of tin again, for a few years. There were not many biscuits to be had anyway and even fewer tins, apart from those commemorating special occasions such as the wedding of the Queen and Prince Phillip in 1947.

Cookie Tins

In the early fifties there were few unusual or complex designs of biscuit tin, but by the mid fifties there were tins appealing particularly to children again, as they had before the war. 

Television made its presence felt in the home and biscuit manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon with tins featuring TV characters. 

Cookie Tins
Huntley and Palmer produced just such a range over the next three decades. In the 1950s they showed Muffin the Mule and Oswald Ostrich, in the 1960s there was Noddy and Winnie the Pooh and in the 1970s, Peter Rabbit.

Plastic was used for handles on biscuit tins in the sixties, as can be found on the range of tins resembling Wedgwood's blue and white Jasperware. Nostalgia was one theme, with old biscuit tins being reproduced using modern techniques.

Cookie Tins

In the seventies photographs were widely used as decoration, allowing tins to be packed with shortcake and other biscuits and bought as souvenirs.

The eighties saw the fashion for vintage advertisements which found their way onto biscuit tins too, and companies reproduced vehicles again, with the addition of wheels, in plastic this time round.
Perhaps the ultimate, recent biscuit tin for collectors is the one made by McVities, in 1997, featuring old tins in its design.

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