Treasured tins

My grandmother's sewing kit tin

A fun story that came to my attention recently was from the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association (MPMA) who had launched a nationwide hunt to discover the UK’s most treasured tins.   

A few weeks later, the winning treasured tin – chosen from around 100 entries –  was a 1935 George V Silver Jubilee tin (pictured right), originally believed to have contained sweets, and once belonged to the owner’s grandmother who used it to store her sewing kit.  

Within the sewing kit was even more treasure, a rare needle tin made by Serpent Brand, measuring just under six centimetres, and one of the smallest tins featured in the competition. It reads English Made Needles and features different size needles which are accessed by twisting the lid.  

The winner was picked by a panel of judges – chaired by Robert Fell, MPMA director and CEO – who considered the age and story behind each tin submitted

The oldest entry was sent in by a collector and is believed to date back to 1911. Known as Three British Queens, the tin was made by Cadbury Bourneville to commemorate the company’s royal appointment. The back of the tin reads: Cadbury has been honoured with the appointment as Cocoa and Chocolate Manufacturers to Her Majesty Queen Mary. They were similarly honoured by Her Majesty Queen Alexandra and her late Majesty Queen Victoria.

The MPMA recently conducted new research showing that over half the population has been given or bought a speciality tin. Of those respondents who did have speciality tins in their home, they kept them for over seven years and many go on to have at least two different uses.  Common uses once empty included food storage 53%; household items 46%; DIY items 35%; grocery items 26%; toiletries 15% and jewellery 13%. 

Robert Fell said: “Historically speciality tins have been welcome gifts filled with sweets or biscuits or produced to commemorate special occasions such as a royal wedding or anniversary – just like our winner’s tin. They have even been used for a wider range of products such as teas, wines and spirits, pastas and even non-food and drink items such as DIY tools.   

One thing they all have in common though is that they are highly decorated and imaginative tins with clever finishes such as unique shaped embossing or spot varnishing. And they are all designed to be reused indefinitely, with many remaining treasured heirlooms.  

On a recent visit home, I discovered a tin (pictured as the lead image above and also below) that had been used by my grandmother following its original use, to store her sewing kit. On it says Vanity Fair – A Delightful Assortment of Toffees & Chocolates, and it was made by Dunn & Co (Sunderland) Ltd, Burn Park, Sunderland. It’s a beautifully decorated tin and definitely a treasured possession.

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