Dating Your Tins and Cans

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DatingYour Tins

With Chronology of Tin / Can Development

by Mike Reilly (completely revised January, 1999)

Updated 10/14/2012

     At some time, tin collectors want to know something about the history behind their tins or more often, how old they are. Most of thetime, the tin will not have a date marked anywhere on it, and that’s where some detective work on your part is required. Dating tins isn’t difficult to do, though it may involvesome of your time. This process can turn out to be both fun and personally rewarding. The following information can be used to help document the age of your tins.

     You will be fortunate to date your tinright away, most of them will require you to carefully study their appearance both from astructure stand-point and how they are decorated or finished. Some veryobvious clues may not be sufficient, may be misleading, or have to be combined with otherknowns to arrive at an accurate or close approximate date.

     Let’s start off with some general thingsthat apply to most 20th century tins and to some 19th.

      Addresses on tins can often belinked to a time period, even down to the exact year, if you use an old city directory ortelephone book. If you’re collecting local brand/company tins you probably have access toa library or historical society that have these books. By looking up the business in thedirectory you can determine when they moved to a new location or the address simplychanged because of changes in the city’s addressing system.

      If you’re collecting a particularbrand or have several major brands in your collection, it really pays off to know themanufacturer/distributor history. By tying in certain company events and changes, thegraphics and text on your tin may be able to determine the time period it was introducedand used. Many companies have gone through name changes (ownership, brands, logos,trademarks, mergers) because of growth or merging. Knowing when these events took placeand matching them to the name on the tin can help.

     Along the same lines; if you also collectmagazines/newspaper ads for these companies/brands, they can date your tin by matchingyour tin’s description to that in the ad. Many ads have a date on them  ( the pagethey’re on or the date of the publication you find them in) and are an excellent referencetool as well as looking great themselves in your collection. Other point-of-sale (POS)advertising, particularly die-cut cardboard, may also provide dates. Another source ofinformation could be a merchandise catalog. As an example, Sears, Roebuck & Co. soldmany products years ago and you may be able to date an item by its appearance in thecatalog.

     Some collectors shy away from collecting tinswith paper labels, but besides being very attractive, they can provide the name of thelabel’s printer or lithographer. Labels were not always printed in the same location (cityor state) as that of the manufacturer or distributor so you may have to make some longdistance phone calls or write some letters to learn about the printing company’s history.The date of manufacture (printing) may appear on it or sometimes be stamped on thebackside. This can only be determined if you’re willing to remove the label from the tin.

   Numbers on labels such as “553” may indicatethe year made. “553” is May, 1953. These numbers may also identify a label stocknumber but most likely would be identified as No. 1227.

     Note: Early paper labels may not havelisted or pictured the product within the tin or can.

      Your tin may have graphics or textthat can be attributed to a particular time period. Match clothing, furniture, tablesettings, automobile make, and slogans (ex. war slogans-BUY Bonds), etc., to other knownadvertising items. Advertisers tended to use the most modern fashions on their labels.Look for historical events and important people in the advertising. Much of it was usedonly for a short time, usually no more than five years, after the event or person wassignificant.  There are some exceptions to this; images of Abe Lincoln and BenFranklin have endured for hundreds of years in advertising.  You may need to investin some good history books, encyclopedias, and old product sales catalogs for referencesources. (Note: In our time of nostalgia advertising- this may not be entirely applicable,but other clues will provide more identification information.)

     The construction of your tin may alsoprovide clues to its age. In the 1930’s/40’s tins were constructed of rather thick steelsheet. As time went on, the tin manufacturer realized that all that metal wasn’t alwaysneeded to protect the product. They also found out that you didn’t have to apply as thicka coating of paint, ink, or whatever they used to maintain a somewhat durable finish. Sothe coatings used became thinner. Paper label stock also became thinneraround 1900.

     Note: Certain size tins were in use duringparticular time periods.

      Many tins have a copyright date onthem. In some cases this can identify its age, but be cautious. Copyright (and Patentdates) can be misleading, appearing on the company’s products for many years. A copyrightdate may appear but the product may not have been actually marketed until the followingyear or later. Find out more about Copyright and Patent information as youread the listing below.

      I’m going to be guessing here, but Iwould think that the “Limited Edition” became widely used after the 1970’s. Manytins marked with this usually have a date associated with its issuance. It was also in the’70’s, 1973 to be exact, that the UPC (Universal Product Code) label came on the scene andbegan appearing on products. So any tin with a UPC label was manufactured in the lasttwenty-five years.

      Don’t forget about telephonenumbers. Up until the early 1950’s, telephone companies used a two or four digit number,sometimes with a hyphenated suffix. During 1954/55 (in the Milwaukee, WI. area), the oldLIberty, LIconln, BRoadway telephone numbers with five digits were introduced. About 1962,rural communities around Milwaukee began using the full seven-digit phone numbers.

      If someone knows when the familiar1-800 and 1-888 numbers were introduced as well as the Area Code system, I’d like to hearabout it.

      What I’ve done here is created achronology of tin container development along with certain events and laws that willenable you to more accurately pinpoint your tin’s age. Some of it may be very difficult touse in determining a tin’s age unless you’re somewhat of an expert in production methodchanges and how to distinguish various types of lithography or metal ornamentation. Youmay need to consult other sources to gain a better understanding of historical, literary,and art influences and when they were significant.

  • 1300-1780  Canisters are hand-painted.

  • 1600’s – paper labels are attached to bails of fabric/cloth.

  • 1700’s – early in the century, labels are printed for medicinecontainers, later for wine bottles and used to identify tobacco products.

  • 1700’s-1800’s, Wrapper-style labels are used to enclose bottlesand tins to keep out dirt and hide any rust.

  • 1798  Nicolas-Louis Robert invents a machine to make paperin France. Early paper labels were printed on hand-made paper and wooden presses.

  • 1798 – Aloys  (Alois) Senefelder invents lithography or”chemical printing”.

  • 1798-1810: Paper labels used for decorating.

  • 1809 – Nicholas Appert wins Napolean’s prize for canning food inglass bottles.

    The Tin Can is Introduced

  • 1810 – tins are patented in England by Peter Durand, “aniron can coated with tin”.

  • Can Seams – The other major technological change in cans was the type of seam closur;granted a by King George III of England. Early cans were sealed the sides and top with lead solder – first by hand, later by machine. Solderless cans appeared in 1890squickly became the dominant type after the introduction of the modern “sanitary can” in 1904.

    Hand-soldered seamsGlobby, irregular bands of lead solder along edges and around top, cap, and base of can.Until the 1880s

    Machine-soldered seamsBands of lead solder much thinner and more-evenly applied. After 1883

    Double locking side-seamsFirst solderless cans; side-seams crimped on inside or outside of can. Commercially available by the late 1890s. Used on modern “sanitary” cans

    Cans changed size over time, too, and some of these changes provide clues as to their ages. This

    is particularly true for evaporated or condensed milk cans. Note all measurements should be made in inches and sixteenths of an inch

  • 1810-1820: Hole-and-capCan lids have central cap where food was inserted before sealing.No vent hole; cans often swelled or burst during cooking

  • 1811-1830: Embossing used to decorate canisters.

  • 1813 – Bryan Donkin and John Hull making tins for food inEngland.

  • 1813 – British army supplied with rations in tins.

  • 1818- Peter Durand introduced the tin container in America.
  • 1819- Fish, oysters, fruits, meats and vegetables were being canned in New York by ThomasKensett, Sr. and Ezra Daggett.
  • 1820s-WWI: Hole-in-capSame as hole-and-cap, but with tiny pin-hole in center of cap to act as a vent during cooking

  • 1825 – “vessels of tin” are patented by Ezra Daggettand Thomas Kensett.

  • 1830s- Huntley and Palmer of Reading, England were selling their cakes and biscuits in decorated tin boxes.
  • 1837 – Full color pictures made with seven-stone color images ofred, yellow, and blue. Method perfected by Frenchmen, Godefroi Engelman and son, Jean. Newprocess was called “chromolithographie”.

  • 1838 – Captain Isaac Winslow, from the New England area, acquiresLouis Appert’s patents for canning foods.

  • 1839 (1837?) – Food packers Thomas Kensett of Baltimore andWilliam Underwood (Deviled Ham) switch from glass to tin containers.

  • 1842 – Isaac & Nathan Winslow operate a can factory inPortland, Maine for food-preserving. “Hole-and-cap” cans were made by hand,about 60 per day per man. The circular tops and bottoms were cut out with shears, andsoldered to the body with the aid of a zinc chloride flux. The top has a filling holeabout an 1 1/2 inches in diameter with after filling was closed by soldering a slightlylarger tin-plated disc over it.

  • 1847 – Allen Taylor invents a drop (pendulum) press for stamping outthe cylindrical can ends.

  • 1847-1869  Stenciling and “paper transfer” aremethods used for decoration.

  • 1849- Henry Evans, Jr. improved Taylor’s patent with the “Pendulum”: press for making can ends.
  • Late 1840’s-Early 1850’s  A combination press developed tostamp out, flange, and make the filling hole in one operation.

  • 1850-1860 – Louis Pasteur discovered that bacteria caused food spoilage. By heating a “closed” can these microscopic, single-cell plants could be killed. This could be done in a hole-in-cap can
  • c.1850 – earliest printed American cans made by Reckow and Larnein New York City.

  • By the Mid-1850s small seamless cans were being manufactured.
  • 1856 – Gail Borden began canning condensed milk in America. To get the contents out of this canyou must remove all or most of the can end.
  • 1856 Henry Bessmer of England discovered, as did William Kelley of America in 1857, the process for converting cast iron into steel.
  • 1858 – Cans are positioned in solder bath to seal seam edges.Output per man is now a thousand per day.

  • 1859 A patent was granted for lock side seams for cans in America.
  • 1860’s – Canning in America was an important business.”beautiful women” were the main advertising subjects.

  • 1861- 1865 – The U.S. Government, “The North”, purchased quantities of Borden’s condensed milk for military use. This proved to the public that canned products were safe and nutritious.
  • 1862 – the word “Trademark” began use but more usedafter 1875.

  • 1865 – Kerosene was first canned (in tall, rectangular cans with small caps).
  • 1865 – “Tax Stamps” required ontobacco products in the U.S.

    Post-Civil War Years

  • c.1865-1901: Ilsley of Brooklyn, N.Y. manufactures tins.

  • 1866 – First known “printed” metal box. A seamless ovaltin holding a cake of solidified toothpowder made by Dr. Israel Whitney Lyon, a dentist,in California.

  • 1866-present Key Wind (key-wind tapered tins after 1895) – Cans opened by using a “key” to roll or tear away a metal strip from the top or side of the canused for coffee after 1917 (still used on some canned meats and fish [corned beef, sardines])
  • 1869 – the “lock seamer” is developed to form the body.

  • 1869 – Anderson and Campbell begin preserving vegetables.

  • c.1869-1901: Norton Bros. of Maywood, Illinois (until 1880 companywas in Chicago) making tins. Made tins for Libby, McNeill & Libby.

  • 1870’s – Ginna of New York, N.Y. begins producing tins.Hinged lid tins were on the market.

  • 1870-1879: one-color lithography or planography, printed on acolored base, in use.

  • 1871- The first American tinplate works was established.
  • 1872 – Libby, McNeill & Libby, Chicago, Illinois, developmethod for canning corned beef and other meats. Tapered tins, like those still used for some brands of corned beef, were first marketed in 1875.

  • 1876 – automatic soldering of ends.

  • 1878 – Chase & Sanborn first firm to pack and ship brand nameroasted coffee in sealed cans.

  • 1869 or late 1870’s-1901: Daniel, Joseph and Guy Somers of New York developed their lithographytechniques. Ginna and Co. of Brooklyn, New York, began producing fine artistic lithographed tins. Howe developed the “Joker” and “Little Joker” systems that automatically attached andsoldered can ends. The English required their can manufacturers to stop soldering on inside side seams of cans. In America, this practice was discontinued at a later time.

  • 1880’s – favorite advertising motifsused company buildings andaward metals.

  • 1880’s – “Packed with Choice Goods” an advertisingphrase of the time.

  • 1882 – Chromolithography is introduced. These tins were lithographed by using a seriesof color plates. Multicolored tins were now on the market.

  • 1883 – First entirely automatic can line started by Edwin Norton.

  • 1884 – “Reg.”, “Rd”, or”Registered” with a number used in England to indicate the year of manufacture.A table of dates matching numbers reportedly exists.

  • 1885 – Evaporated milk cannedin the United States. These cans are opened by punching two holes on opposite sides of the can lid or top.

  • 1888- Max Ams of Max Ams Machine Co. of New York developed a double side seam and gasket for cylindrical cans. This led to the “Sanitary Can”.

The Gay ’90’s

  • 1890’s – earliest cylindrical cans with paper labelsmay say “cut open on this line” or “cut off top”. A lineor dotted line with cutting instructions was printed at the label’s top. Topwas then cut off with a knife or cleaver. Early cans may include servingdirections – heating the can’s contents in boiling water without removingthe lid. Other early cans had soldered tops that were opened by melting thesolder. Another type had a ring soldered that was pulled to open the lid. Adifferent version had a metal strip around the rim that was pulled (similarto present day frozen juice cans with plastic strips).

  • 1890’s – blue and gray are popular advertisingcolors.

  • 1890’s – labels are embossed with portions of thedesign raised. They were often finished with gold leaf or a cheaper mixtureof bronze powder and lacquer (used like an ink).

  • 1891- The McKinley Tariff Act greatly reduced the flow of tinplate from Europe to America.
  • 1891-1901: Hasker and Marcuse Manufacturing Co. was founded in Richmond, Virginia. The flat toptobacco can was introduced on the American market.

  • 1891 – Color lithography now the rule in industry.

  • 1892 – Anderson and Campbell incorporate as”Joseph Campbell Preserve Company”.

  • 1895- The tapered meat can was improved by the Norton Brothers of Chicago, when they added a scored key wind strip to the large end of the can.
  • 1897 – The log-cabin-shaped syrup tin was introduced, and discontinued after WW II (with modernreproductions).

  • 1898 – Charles M. Ames and Julius Brenzinger of theMax Ams Machine Company develop the first open-top or “sanitary”can. These first cans had a soldered lock-seam body, with ends crimped onand hermetically sealed using with paper gaskets or a “sealingcompound”. Initial results not very good.

  • 1898 – American Tinplate Company is formed.

  • 1898 – Cobb Preserving Company introduces the firstfully automatic canning line.

  • 1898- Edwin Norton patented a vacuum pack tin.
  • Post-1900: Ellisco, Incorporated (first known asGeorge D. Ellis & Sons – 1843), begins making undecorated cans.

    A New Century of Innovation  and Mergers Begins

  • 1900 – Tindeco (Tin Decorating Company) of Baltimore,Maryland starts operation. By the 1920s it was the leader in lithographed tin.

  • After 1900 – Hole-in-top (also called Vent-hole, Matchstick-filler, or Drop-of-solder) Cans have solid lids except for tiny pin-hole vent at center, which was sealed with a drop of solder after the contents were cooked. Evaporated milk cans almost exclusively of this type by 1920. You sometimes can tell a can that held evaporated milk from one that held condensed milk: if the canwas opened with two tiny punctures (ice pick, nail, knife blade, etc.), it held evaporated milk. Condensed milk is too thick to pour through these small openings. Those cans had to be opened by partially removing the lids.

  • c.1900 – Litho stones were “stippled”rather than engraved with lines. This permitted better blending of colors onlabels. Use a magnifying glass to examine label. Early stippling done byhand in a random manner; later, Benday screens were introduced with thestippled pattern aligned in rows.

  • c.1900 – “Patented” or “U.S.patent” first used.

  • c.1900 – “Packaged by white girls only” seenon certain Midwest food products.

  • early 1900’s – sports (baseball and golf),automobiles, trains and balloons were favorite advertising design motifs.

  • 1900-1915 labels featured farm girl look wearingbonnets.

  • 1901 – A new improved version of the”sanitary” can is introduced and by 1908 is in wide spread use.Their sizes were originally designated by numbers, 1 for small through 10for large or about 4/5 gallon. These tins/cans used a doubleseam and no longer required soldering to seal them.

  • 1901 – over 100 tin manufacturers combine to form theAmerican Can Co. headed by Edwin Norton.

  • 1901 – Heekin Can Company opens in Ohio.

  • 1902 – “patent applied for” first used.

  • 1903 – Up to this year, no “wet packs”(packing vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, etc) containers had any organiccoating or decoration (other than paper label).

  • 1903 – The Cobb Preserving Company develops the first”sanitary gold lacquer” finish for inside (and outside) cans.

  • 1903 – Rotary offset lithograph press developed whichtransferred the image from a rotating metal drum to a rotating rubber drumand then onto the tin.

  • 1903 – The Virginia Can Company combines with theU.S. Can Company in Cincinnati.

  • Commercially available by 1904 – Sanitary: Cans made entirely by machine, with one-piece lids – no caps or vent holes.No lead solder.“Modern” cans
  • 1904 – Sanitary Can Company is formed by the Max AmsMachine Company, the Cobb Preserving Company, and jobbers Bogle and Scott ofNew York.

  • 1904 – Edwin Norton forms Continental Can Company.

  • 1904 – Edwin Norton introduces the vacuum can (patentissued in 1898?). The first vacuum-packed coffee (in one-pound cans) was marketed by Hills Brothers in 1903/4.

  • 1904 – Because of financial difficulties, TheAmerican Can Co. closed 80 of its original 123 plants. William T. Graham ispresident.

  • 1905 – Trademark law revisionprohibits use of American flag as part of a commercial mark or label.

The Law Steps In

  • 1906 – Pure Food and Drug Act passed. Mandatedmany health requirements, though no special wording. Also banned the word”cure”.

  • 1907 – “Prince Albert” hinged tobacco tins patented (also see 1913 and 1914). These tins were made into the mid-20th century.

  • 1909 – Beer first offered in cans but quickly failed.Tuna also canned successfully for the first time.

  • 1910 – Insecticide Act of 1910 mentioned up toabout 1930.

  • 1910 – Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval – their”tested and approved” seal.

  • 1910 – the color violet is a popular withadvertisers.

  • c.1910  glossy-finish “shellacked”labels replace gold embossed ones.

  • 1911 – American Tobacco Company splits.

  • 1911 – the Shelley Amendment (to the Pure Foodand Drug Act) prohibits false or fraudulent curative or theraputic claims.

  • 1911- Most California can manufacturers were producing sanitary cans.
  • 1912 – Al Bruns starts the Metal Package Company inBrooklyn. Reputed to be the best lithographer of cans in the country.

  • 1913 – Robert A. Worstall develops a pale finishingvarnish based on tung oil and a special milky Congo resin (much resin camefrom Africa and the Far East) for the Ault & Wiborg Company. They inturn sell it to the Federal Tin Company of Baltimore for use on their PrinceAlbert cans. Use of this varnish produced a much whiter portrait of theprince in the oval medallion.

  • 1913 – the Gould Amendment (to the Pure Foodand Drug Act) required the contents quantity on labeling.

  • 1913 – R.J. Reynolds test markets four brands oftobacco – Reyno, Red Kamel, Osman, and Camel. Camel wins out an isintroduced to the public in Dec., 1914.

  • pre-WWI advertising featureswomen with waist-length hair.

World War I, the Roaring ’20’s andDepression Era

  • 1914 – Continuous ovens for drying inked tinplate areused.

  • 1914 – Copyright symbol letter “C” in acircle is first used.

  • WWI – home canning tins with embossed lids listingvegetables are introduced. They had an easy closure mechanism.

  • 1916 – “Double-Tite” and later”Triple-Tite” covers developed for paint containers and othersimilar products requiring frequent reopening.

  • 19-teens (?): Metal Package Company, Boyle CanCompany (Baltimore), and Shallita Brothers (New York) form the National CanCorporation.

  • 1919-1933 Prohibition – “2.75% alcohollimit” and “for medicinal purposes only” wording used. Theword “beer” couldn’t be used.

  • 1920’s – Citrus fruits and tomato juice appear in tincontainers. The hole-and-cap tin pretty much gone from use.

  • 1920’s – the “roll-form” and”wing-form” tin production methods are introduced and increase canmanufacture output.

  • 1920’s – “salt added” and “sugaradded” wording must be included on labeling.

  • c.1920’s – Art Deco style becomes popular.

  • 1920’s – “packed in sanitary cans” or“hermetically sealed” phrases not seen much due to increasedpublic knowledge of cans and their uses.

  • 1921 – Campbell’s acquires the”Franco-American” brand.

  • 1921 – Dewey and Almy introduce a natural rubberlatex compound to aid in sealing certain types of cans.

  • 1921 or 1922 – “C Enamel” developedcontaining small amount of zinc oxide to combat sulfur in such foods aspeas, corn, beans, meats and fish. The zinc oxide gave the “sanitarygold lacquer” a translucent appearance. This coating prevented discoloration of vegetables and other reactions with the metal can.

  • 1922 – Joseph Campbell Preserve Company becomes knownas Campbell Soup Company.

  • 1924 – The “key-opening” feature and”vacuum packed” begins with coffee cans.

  • 1924 – earliest “bathing beauty” seen onproduct labeling.

  • 1927 – Technique of photolithography developed.

  • 1927 – Caustic Poison Act requires labels toadd dangerous chemical warning and antidotes on products.

  • Pre-Depression,  Smokestacks commonly seen inadvertising as a sign of a prospering business.

  • early 1930’s – Photomechanical half-tones, using afine dot matrix, replaces the “stippling” (see c.1900 for info).

  • 1930’s – orange color becomes popular in advertising.

  • 1930’s  – Women in advertising have thecontented, wholesome housewife look.

  • 1930’s – Many labels show recipes for the productinside the can/tin. “Union Label” becomes an important addition onmany labels (primarily used to designate a unionized printing shop).

  • 1930’s-50’s  Designs become more stylized.Photographic labels on slick, shiny paper popular (except during WWII).Block lettering and geometric designs are used.

  • 1932 – “Reg. U.S. Pat. off.” (Registeredwith the United States Patent Office) first used.

    Post-Prohibition Era

  • 1933 – “Internal Revenue Tax Paid”on labels from 1933 until March 1950.

  • 1935- The invention of C-enamel allowed the flat top and bottom beer can to be introduced. Later that year the cone-top beer can was also introduced. The “Church Key” was invented to open the flat top beer can. This opener makes a triangular shaped hole in the can’s top. The cone-top canallowed beer bottlers to retain their old bottling equipment.
  • 1935 – Beer is canned for the domestic market.

  • 1935-mid 1950’s: Cone-top beer can.

  • 1937 – The oval cans for hams, chicken and otherlunch meats come on the market.

  • 1937 – Electrolytic tinplate first produced for thegeneral market by the Gary Sheet and Tin Mill. Product quality – flaked,discolored, wouldn’t lithograph or solder.

  • 1938 – Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Actrequires labeling of certain products – showing the food’s name, the netweight, and the name and address of the manufacturer or distributor. Alisting of ingredients was also required on most items.

  • 1938 – The standard wrap around label for the number300 or 303 can (sizes of today’s canned peas) first used. Prior to this,most labels didn’t wrap around the side of the can/tin.

  • c.1940 – “Patent pending” firstused.

    World War II Era

  • 1940’s  Pin-up girl types in advertising,appealing to servicemen.

  • WWII – one color labels with eagle and war equipmentpictured for military use.

  • Early 1940’s – Continental develops the one pound”bug bombs” for military insecticide use.

  • 1940’s-50’s Cartoon-like figures appear on advertisingshowing product or pointing to the instructions.

  • 1941 – Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval – seal changedto “guaranty” seal.

  • 1943 – one and two digit postal zone codes introduced.

  • WWII – It appears that the hole-in-cap was taken out of production.
  • 1947 – First low cost aerosol insecticide can sold topublic by Continental. Had concave top and bottom with a special valvesoldered to the can. (As early as 1945?)

    Prosperity Around the Corner

  • Late 1940’s-early 50’s Thin, well-dressed women are drawnin a stylized technique.

  • after 1949 – Registered symbol of letter “R” ina circle is first used.

  • 1950 – Oleomargarine Act requires conspicuous labeling ofcolored oleomargarine.

  • 1950 – Federal Court of Appeals rules that “purposeof the drug” must be included in the drug label directions.

  • 1950’s – Pacific Can Company joins National CanCorporation.

  • 1950’s – turquoise is a popular color.

  • 1955 – Campbell’s buys the C.A. Swanson Company.

  • 1955 – Microwave ovens are introduced and labelingreflects new cooking directions.

  • 1956 – Since before 1913, the American Can Co. had notbought or merged with other companies. It now bought interests incollapsible metal and plastic tubes, Dixie cups, and a variety of productsfrom the Marathon Corporation.

  • 1958 – Motor Oil sold commercially in aluminum cans.

  • Late 1950s- A soft aluminum top was added to the metal flat top beer can.
  • 1959 – First all-aluminum beer can sold by Adolph CoorsCo.

The New Health Conscious Public

1960 – American Can Co. has about 80 can factories andforty-two metal decorating plants.

1960 – Federal Hazardous Substances Labeling Actputs warning labels on hazardous household chemical products.

1962 – Good Housekeeping Seal reads – “GoodHousekeeping guarantees – If product or performance defective, replacement orrefund to consumer.” The pull-tab beverage can was introduced in 1962.

1963 – Zip Codes are introduced and appear on productadvertising.

1963- The aluminum tear-top can and the D & I (drawn and ironed) aluminum can were


1965  Tin-free-steel cans are made.

1965 – “Warning, the Surgeon General hasdetermined that smoking may be hazardous to your health.”

1965 – elegant table setting with candelabrum and productpopular in advertising.

1966 – Fair Packaging and Label Act – all consumerproducts in interstate commerce must be labeled with accurate information.

1970 – “Warning, the Surgeon General hasdetermined that smoking is hazardous to your health.”

1972- The State of Oregon required beer can tabs to remain with the can.

1973 – Nutrition labeling required by FDA on foodpackaging containing one or more added nutrients, or where labeling or adsincluded claims about product’s nutritional properties.

1975 – Good Housekeeping Seal changes due to Magnuson-MossWarranty Act. “Good Housekeeping promises a limited warranty toconsumers – replacement or refund if defective.”

1980 – Zip+Four zip code introduced.

1980- 3M developed a peel scotch tab for drink cans.

early 1980’s – “Use by” or “Sell by”(Expiration dates) printed on packaging.

1980’s-90’s Tuna fish products labeled “DolphinFree” or “Packed in the USA”.

1984 – Sodium or salt labeling required on nutritionpanel.

1985 – Messages about tobacco dangers to pregnant womenappear in advertising – containing carbon monoxide, cause cancer or emphysema,etc.

1989 (November) – Health warnings placed on liquorbottles in U.S.

c.1990 – “Fat-free” added as a selling feature.

1990 – Nutrition and Fair Labeling Act createsstrict definitions of terms: free, reduced, lean, less, light, extra lean,low, fewer, high, more, and good source. Also established guidelinesfor links between foods and health related conditions.  Note: Because Actwas not mandatory until 1994, some labels may be found overprinted to conformwith new law (this allowed manufacturers to use up existing advertisingmaterials in stock.)

1990 – PLU numbers (bulk produce numbers) appear in theform of stickers on produce.

1990 – “% Alcohol” replaces “proof”as standard of measure on liquor products.

1992 – Terms “fat-free”,”low-cholesterol” and “lite” are regulated.

1994 – Food labeling requires metric conversion ofmeasurements.

1994 (May) – “Nutrition Facts” appear on healthlabel listing percentage of daily nutritional values. All ingredients andadditives used as preservatives, and all vitamin info must be printed. Theterm “ice milk” is eliminated.

1995 (June) – “Underage Sale Prohibited” firstused by Philip Morris company.

1996 – “skim milk” becomes “fatfree”.

1998 “1% lowfat milk” is light milk” and”2% lowfat milk” becomes “2% reduced fat milk”.

      I could have listed tonsof information about various companies histories, their slogans, advertising,etc. but decided that would be just too much of a task. It would be interestingto do this for a particular company from time to time. If you have any suchdocumentation that you would like to share with others please send it to email addressbelow.

     Below you will find a selectedseries of Patent Numbers and the corresponding Month and Year within which itwas issued. If you find a patent number on your tin, this listing may help youdetermine it’s approximate age. Remember – using patent numbers maybe misleading.

  • 1,922……..pre 1841

  • 2,400……..Dec 1841

  • 4,910……..Dec 1846

  • 8,620……..Dec 1851

  • 12,160……..Jan 1855

  • 22,430……..Dec 1858

  • 31,230……..Jan 1861

  • 35,290……..May 1862

  • 37,650……..Feb 1863

  • 45,600……..Dec 1864

  • 49,260……..Aug 1865

  • 73,250……..Jan 1868

  • 134,400……..Dec 1872

  • 172,300……..Jan 1876

  • 241,100……..May 1881

  • 338,200……..Mar 1886

  • 418,250……..Dec 1889

  • 478,660……..Jul 1892

  • 533,280……..Jan 1895

  • 610,900……..Sep 1898

  • 639,560……..Dec 1899

  • 673,050……..May 1901

  • 797,700……..Aug 1905

  • 979,180……..Dec 1910

  • 1,152,100……..Aug 1915

  • 1,352,120……..Sep 1920

  • 1,707,440……..Apr 1929

  • 1,839,180……..Dec 1931

  • 2,066,300……..Dec 1936

  • 2,268,540……..Jan 1942

  • 2,413,670……..Dec 1946

  • 2,580,380……..Jan 1952

  • 2,775,760……..Dec 1956

  • 3,015,100……..Dec 1961

  • 3,295,150……..Jan 1967

  • 3,631,540……..Jan 1972

  • 3,873,830……..Mar 1975

  • 4,134,130……..Jan 1979

  • 4,471,450……..Sep 1984

  • 4,881,020……..Nov 1989

  • 5,218,270……..Jun 1993

  • 5,525,900……..Jun 1996

Sources: Metal Decorating From Start to Finishes byCharles R. Bragdon; Tobacco Tins: A Collector’s Guide by Douglas Condon-Martin;The Tin Can Book by Hyla M. Clark; The Label Made Me Buy It  by Ralph andTerry Kovel, 1998; plus a lot more unstuck from my brain.; How Old Is “Old”? – Recognizing Historical Sites and Artifacts by Sharon A. Waechter,