Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tin Treasures

This week we're taking a look at antique and vintage tin items. For the purpose of explaing the processes I will focus on biscuit tins but these can be applied to any type of tin collectable.

Tins, a brief and abridged Wiki history:

"Biscuit tins are made of tin plate. This consists of iron sheets thinly coated with tin by being dipped into the liquid metal. The sheets are then bent to shape....  Biscuit tin manufacture was a small but prestigious part of the vast industry of tin plate production,...
The earliest decorated biscuit tin was commissioned in 1868 by Huntley & Palmers from the London firm of De La Rue to a design by Owen Jones. Early methods of printing included the transfer process (essentially the method used to decorate porcelain and pottery since about 1750) and the direct lithographic process, which involved laying an inked stone directly on to a sheet of tin. Its disadvantage was that correct colour registration was difficult. The breakthrough in decorative tin plate production was the invention of the offset lithographic process. It consists of bringing a sheet of rubber into contact with the decorated stone, and then setting-off the impression so obtained upon the metal surface. The advantages over previous methods of printing were that any number of colours could be used, correctly positioned, and applied to an uneven surface if necessary. Thus the elaborately embossed, colourful designs that were such a feature of the late Victorian biscuit tin industry became technically possible."
Modern tins use the photo litho process which takes away the graininess found in the previous processes. Though the images are sharper, I much prefer the imperfection of transfers, lithos and direct lithographs. 

I like tin lithos because they are not only decorative but often functional and can be used for years and years. Because of their decorative nature, they can be passed on for future generations to enjoy. I think all collectors should have at least a few good tin items in their collections. Here are a few of my faves...

Happy Hunting!

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