Parrot Cage

Biscuit Tin
ca. 1898 (made)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ironwork, Room 114c
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Biscuit Tin
  • Lid for a Biscuit Tin
Additional TitleM.J. Franklin Collection of British Biscuit Tins (named collection)
Materials and Techniques
Offset litho printed tinplate
Brief Description
Biscuit tin, `Parrot Cage', offset litho printed tinplate, England, made for Joseph Walker Ltd., ca.1898.
Physical Description
Biscuit tin, offset litho printed tinplate
Dimensions
  • Height: 12.5cm (excluding handle)
  • Diameter: 9.2cm
Production typeMass produced
Gallery Label
'PARROT CAGE', c. 1896 Made for John Walker Ltd. Museum No. M.748-1983(07/1994)
Credit line
Given by M. J. Franklin
Object history
M.J. Franklin Collection of British Biscuit Tins
Summary
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.
Bibliographic References
  • Michael Franklin, British Biscuit Tins, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1984, ISBN. 0905209621
Collection
Accession Number
M.748-1983

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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