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Literature

  • Object:

    Biscuit tin

  • Place of origin:

    Reading (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1901 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Huntley & Palmers (made for)
    Huntley, Boorne & Stevens (made by)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tinplate, offset litho printed

  • Credit Line:

    Given by M. J. Franklin

  • Museum number:

    M.290-1983

  • Gallery location:

    Ironwork, Room 114c, case 21, shelf 3

The British biscuit tin came about when the Licensed Grocer's Act of 1861 allowed groceries to be individually packaged and sold. Coinciding with the removal of the duty on paper for printed labels. It was only a short step to the idea of printing directly on to tinplate. The new process of offset lithography, patented in 1877 allowed multicoloured designs to be printed on to exotically shaped tins.

The most exotic designs were produced in the early years of the 20th century, just prior to the First World War. In the 1920s and 1930s, costs had risen substantially and the design of biscuit tins tended to be more conservative, with the exception of the tins targeted at the Christmas market and intended to appeal primarily to children. The designs, generally speaking are a barometer of popular interests.

The advent of the Second World War stopped all production of decorative tin ware and after it ended in 1945, the custom never really revived.

Physical description

Biscuit tin made of tinplate, off set litho printed, made to simulate eight books with simulated tooled leather bindings and marbled end papers, bound by an imitation leather strap.

Place of Origin

Reading (probably, made)

Date

1901 (made)

Artist/maker

Huntley & Palmers (made for)
Huntley, Boorne & Stevens (made by)

Materials and Techniques

Tinplate, offset litho printed

Dimensions

Height: 16 cm, Width: 16 cm, Depth: 12 cm

Historical context note

The British biscuit tin came about when the Licensed Grocer's Act of 1861 allowed groceries to be individually packaged and sold. Coinciding with the removal of the duty on paper for printed labels. It was only a short step to the idea of printing directly on to tinplate. This development is first credited to Owen Jones who was a consultant designer to the stationary printers, Thomas de la Rue. He designed the first biscuit tin, transfer-printed and issued in 1868 for the firm of Huntley & Palmers. Other firms were quick to respond and a whole new industry was born. The new process of offset lithography, patented in 1877 allowed multicoloured designs to be printed on to exotically shaped tins.

The most exotic designs were produced in the early years of this century, just prior to the First World War. In the 1920s and 1930s, costs had risen substantially and the design of biscuit tins tended to be more conservative, with the exception of the tins targeted at the Christmas market and intended to appeal primarily to children. The designs, generally speaking are a barometer of popular interests.

The advent of the Second World War stopped all production of decorative tin ware and after it ended in 1945, the custom never really revived.
[Eric Turner, 'British Design at Home', p.126]

Descriptive line

Offset litho printed, made for Huntley & Palmers, Reading, 1901

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Michael Franklin, British Biscuit Tins, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1984, ISBN. 0905209621

Labels and date

'LITERATURE', 1901
Made for Huntley & Palmers.
Museum No. M.290-1983

[07/1994]

Materials

Tinplate

Techniques

Offset lithography

Subjects depicted

Books

Categories

Containers; Metalwork; Portraits; Children & Childhood; Eating; Food vessels & Tableware

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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