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Iron chest

  • Object:

    Biscuit tin

  • Place of origin:

    Reading (made)

  • Date:

    1907 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tinplate with offset lithography printing

  • Credit Line:

    Given by M. J. Franklin

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ironwork, Room 114c, case 21, shelf 1

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

'Iron chest' biscuit tin made of tinplate in the form of an antique coffer with offset lithography printing. Is marked with the inscription 'Regd. No. 460206'.

Place of Origin

Reading (made)


1907 (made)


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

Materials and Techniques

Tinplate with offset lithography printing

Marks and inscriptions

Regd. No. 460206


Height: 9.2 cm, Width: 19 cm, Depth: 10.9 cm

Descriptive line

'Iron chest' biscuit tin, tinplate with offset lithography printing, M.J. Franklin Collection of British Biscuit Tins, made by Huntley, Boorne & Stevens, Reading, 1907

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

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

Labels and date

'IRON CHEST', 1907
Marked: Regd. No. 460206. Made by Huntley, Boorne & Stevens for Huntley & Palmers.
Museum No. M.320-1983 [07/1994]




Offset lithography


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


Metalwork Collection

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